Making a Name for Yourself

The key points of my talk “Making a Name for Yourself” at the Toronto College of Technology on March 14, 2009 were:

DEVELOP
1. Build on your strengths. Identify your passions and skills inside and outside the classroom, and figure out how to get even better at them.
2. Be flexible and create options. Look outside large IT companies, and even outside the IT industry.
3. Change the game. Create new opportunities for yourself.

CONNECT
1. Focus on others. Look for opportunities to help other people.
2. Make it easy to help you. Have a strong introduction (best-test-focus: start with a brief description of what you’re good at, a concrete example of how that benefited someone else, and a question that puts the focus back on the other person and how you can help them). Bring business cards. Carry a notebook and pen, or a PDA, or some other way to take notes. Have a web presence on social networks, or your own professional website/blog.
3. Ask. Many people enjoy helping. Ask for help and reach out. Find mentors. Ask everyone.

Here are some of the resources I mentioned:

Toronto Geek Events calendar – for finding interesting tech-related events

Love is the Killer App
By Tim Sanders

What Color is Your Parachute?
By Richard Nelson Bolles
Published by Ten Speed Press

Make Your Contacts Count
By Anne Baber, Lynne Waymon
Published by AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn, 2007

How to Talk to Anyone
By Leil Lowndes
Published by McGraw Hill Professional, 2003

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