Certified Business Coach and Corporate Exit Strategist
Last week I was speaking at a developers’ software conference in Chattanooga, TN. It was a lovely event and I met many pleasant attendees and speakers. A large percentage of attendees and speakers were from the technical and development side of things. And I was intrigued with the observation that of all the talks that I attended, I was the only one that passed around a newsletter email signup sheet or gave away a door prize.
One lunch break, I was speaking to a fellow speaker (who was a developer from Germany). He was sharing that his company will be sending him to 15 conferences this year. I was amazed and impressed at the expense his company was investing in him. “Wow! Share with me what you are bringing back to them, that makes it worth their investment to continue to fund all these trips for you?” He looked confused. “I mean, what is there ‘return on investment’. What are they getting out of these funded trips. How are your trips accomplishing their business goals?”
“Oh — I provide the audience information through my talk”.
“Yes. I see. I know it’s great information. But do you bring anything back to the company? How do you measure how successful you were at conveying the company message?”
“Oh — well, that’s very difficult. I just give my talk and hope they will contact my company if they want more information. We’re an open source foundation. We aren’t selling anything. We’re not pushing a product or anything. We just hope people will submit code or check us out if they are looking for a job. Things like that. We’re not trying to sell anything. We just want people to share their code with others.”
“Oh — I see. mmm… Let’s think about that. If your goal is to continually expose more and more people to the value of your organization and keep them updated on what you are up to …. then … if you were to collect contact information at each of your talks and continually fold that into your company database, they would be able to send newsletters and updates about your company. They could continually announce the value and success stories that Open Source has done for non-profits and start-up companies. They could send out publications about the types of “open source applications” that they are looking forward in seeing from the group. They could publish any job openings to this group. They could send them a link to update video blogs on ‘What’s new’ or personalized success stories. There’s probably some other things they could notify and share with this group — to accomplish their business goals of educating folks on the Open Source mission statement.”
At this point, I could tell he wasn’t having any of it. So I backed off… “But — You know more about your organization than I do. You know what fits and what will work. It’s just something that popped into my head when you were telling me about your company.”
In this example, simply passing around a signup-sheet for email address for people to request more information or updates would be an easy, no hassle way of adding value to his company. It would not have changed his demo or presentation in any significant way. It would not have cost him anything to give people the opportunity for more information. But that small act could be exponentially converted to other uses.
It’s not that we “don’t want to do it” or that “we don’t have time to do it” — it’s just often times is never occurs to us to take that next step.
What is your next activity on your calendar? Is there a small “next small step” that you could take that might make that exponential difference? This is just one example — but the example of collecting the names, we don’t have to do anything with the information right away. Just the fact that we have that information might give us some ideas that bounces us into the next plateau of leading-edge thinking. We don’t have to have all the answers right away. We can continue to figure it out as we go along.