Saturday, February 11, 2006

Redhot Future Of IT Part I :Marketing yourself as IT professional



I had promised about the "RedHot IT Future Series" and so we discuss here how you should market yourself EFFECTIVELY as an IT professional in this new (and dangerous) web age! Web is the place where you're a hero today and villain tomorrow. While there are lots of professionals who are active on the web, not all are enjoying a good reputation as they got "personal" with others and got into a cockfight. The passive IT professional has nothing to lose but nothing to gain at all!

I know "marketing" might seem as a greasy term but the idea is to have the truth about you out there. You know you're a good person and your family knows that you're really smart person but the rest of the world doesn't!

So the question is how do I market myself on the web as a true "nouveau IT professional". A guy who companies will be tempted to pick up the phone as say "Hey, we wanna talk with you. Can you fly over to Palo Alto (or Guatemala or Johannesburg for that matter) , like tonight?"

I'm sure lots of you will dream of it but it will NEVER come true if you don't go out there on the web and tell that you have a specific knowledge, that you have the personality, that you are a very eager learner and that you want to kick some ass! Never, I guarantee you that. And sinking back to your desk and hoping that the axe won't fall on your head won't help either. How on earth will you keep up with your skills if you just keep doing the same thing over and over again? For all you know, your own boss might be planning to change the whole scenario and might be wanting to restructure the whole department and don't be surprised if you also might be getting laid off.

Alright I've scared you enough, there is certainly lots of things that you can do to get yourself an "extreme makeover". I've made a simple list of what you might want to do to market yourself.

You might think : I don't need to market myself, I'll call the recruiter/headhunter instead.

Well its time that you told the world who you really are and might even have someone understand fully what you really deserve. You're not some cattle and we're not living in the nineties really. Employers go on the web these days and they just need to search on Google on your profile. What is better: Put it up your CV OR have a blog somewhere where you talk (extensively) about the technologies that you're passionate about? Answer is "both"!

  • Be the grand collaborator on the web

Try to get people together. Be it through discussion forums, your own blog, listservs, groups etc. Build your reputation around talking things that really matter and things that people should try to do together as a community and not as alone. Don't fake it , do it in all honesty. Show to yourself and others that a good healthy collaboration of ideas and thoughts help achieve results faster and effectively. This is crucial to your reputation. Its not you but the people around you who start seeing you as the guy who gets folks together.

  • Playing the role of a motivator

A small example. I receive emails on my Oracle RAC articles all the times. And despite all the problems that the folks can't get past some problems. I continue to support and encourage them to keep trying. So why? I'm not Mahatma Gandhi but I know that it took me the same amount of patience and determination to get past my hurdles. I have had experience with this problem and I got past it. So would the others. I was pleased when I saw that it really paid back. So I got personal satisfaction that I helped someone through the trouble/problems. Those things are appreciated by others.

  • Contribute to the community

It really is alarming to see that many developers/ administrators/IT enthusiasts play a rather flaccid role of a passive user. Everyone can Google on the net these days to query the ever growing data to get answers to your problem. But you don't give anything back to the community. Not even a question or feedback! That is rather lame. With the demands in the job market growing stronger by the day. You should not forget that your passive role has left you miles behind the others.

Go ahead and start contributing. Reply frequently. Talk about new things. Discuss. Just say something. There will be someone who will help you get out of your closet.

  • Start professional blogging today!

If you are following anything on the web at all. You would have certainly not missed the blogorama! Everyone is talking on the web. But not everyone talks intelligently. Start by topics of your interest. Talk about some cool thing you did.

I was talking to a friend of mine and he said "I'm afraid that people will pick my ideas on the web". I asked him "And what do you do then, come up with those ideas yourself?" Talking about cool stuff doesn't mean that you start displaying your source code to the world. Heck don't if you don't want to. But talking abut ideas , they've always been there. I don't go on the web looking for an idea, I go there to discuss it further with others.

Don't be scared, nobody will pick on your brain. I will dedicate a full fledged article on "How to write a professional blog" sometime later.

  • Write (professional) articles

This might be your next step after having done some real active professional blogging. You will see that you might even get slashdotted or dugg a couple of times. If you're lucky then you might be asked by a company to write/talk about some articles of their interest with your expertise. OK should that not happen, don't despair just launch a website, design it with Joomla! Which is really no trouble at all. And start writing professional articles.

I did get started that way myself. But lately I'm very active on my blogs and I try to talk about things here. But bottom line is you just need a medium to start talking about some good technology or even hot technology because people will search the web and will find you soon.

  • Follow web and market developments keenly and opine in your webspace

Doing this will help as well . You will see yourself. Everytime you say something important or even smart about a market development and put in your effort to talk about it, you'll see lots of people will notice it and read it. I have had several times that my blog posts we thumped by slashdot readers , by CNet.com readers and others. And it always happens when I put my sincere and professional opinion about that particular development.

  • Be a good hater not an evil hater!

Lets do a cartoon here

  1. Scenario 1: A good hate argument: A Webserver discussion between a Linux and a Microsoft professional



Apache has lot better security than IIS.
Yea rite, but apache has no GUI.
Apache is improving and will get a better look.
IIS7 is getting revamped too and we are working on making it really cool and secure.
Ha, you picked that *security* from us, we
Better that IIS6.
Yea but still its got a long way to go before you beat us.
Maybe but we are improving our pruduct all the time.

Scenario 2: Evil hate: Well again a Linux lady against a Microsoft bloke:

Windows sucks with blue screens.
And linux dumps kernel on your face.
There is no hope for your product.
And you will never enter the consumer market.
We rock, Yeah!
We sell!
(Virus)Worms in your face!
Gutter to you!

Clearly you can see that a hatred/prejudice with no reason makes no sense. You fight, argue and leave dissatisfied. While if you get into some *competitive* discussion you might just be able to talk some real sense because you are targeting the professional aspects of that discussion. Whoi know you might even end up learning from each other. So there is no harm being a hater as long as it leads to some "healthy heated discussion".

And not to forget, people will notice it and see how you behave and conduct yourself.

  • Wipe your webdirt off the web!

There might be some information that you might want to get it erased from the web. Best is to start blogging and hope that the information gets buried in the debri of archived information and gets effectively displaced by the "smarttalk dust" that you start sprinkling on the web.

  • Capitalize on publicity

I occasionally (lately rather often) get mentioned and even quoted in press (for instance I was quoted by a Quest Software for having written professionals article on their beta product "Spotlight on RAC") . All this publicity is good, bask in it. But also tell people about it. You have to keep talking. Nobody is sitting and doing a performance review on you. You are doing it! So keep updating it by talking about it on the web.

  • Be yourself and stay truthful

Best way to do the latter is by proving and demonstrating your skills on the web. Talking about someone else talking about a technology doesn't make you that professional. Write about it yourself and let the world judge it!

  • Work on your strengths 24x7!

You know best where you are the best and also where your weaknesses lie. Try to manage your weaknesses and continue to work on your skill sets by enhancing them, extending them and trying to improvise on it. People who are following you will not only see you grow in your skills but also that you have the capability to explore other areas. Everything is under scrutiny!

  • Participate in Beta Projects

Be an early adopter and participate in beta projects in Fields of your interest or areas where technology is hot. Talk about your experiences in forums and also in your blogs/web site.

I will dedicate another full article to this one. As you may have seen that the need to have specialists is slowly disappearing. Well companies don't have anymore funds to hire people all the time. Listen to my podcast on this or if you're a non-podcaster then read this article.


So you will need to change your lifestyle if you want to make that dream come true. And when you get started you will realize that it really isn't that bad. All that aimless wandering on the web can now be fully optimized , your spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend might also understand that you spend 2 hours a day (say) and do something really useful to enhance your professional capabilities. So its a total win-win scenario.

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