When I started attending conferences, community events, and so on, I always wanted to be one of the speakers.
I’m a Microsoft Certified Trainer since 2000, and I did my first “big” session in 2001, then for many years, I’ve struggled to find my way into public speaking. Yes, I’ve organized many corporate meetings, but I couldn’t be noticed and called to talk at important conferences.
Why did nobody notice me?
Easy, because I was proposing the same stuff that other people, that was already famous, were already submitting. I had to find my niche to be noticed. I had to work hard, keep publishing stuff on it, keep sending proposals, and at the end, some years later, I collected the results of my hard work.
I started speaking at big conferences in Italy, Europe, and the US, and then I was recruited by Microsoft. Then I had the chance to talk in front of thousands of people, an incredible experience.
Everybody can find their space!
One of the latest examples that come to my mind is about my friend Codrina, one of my mentees of some years ago.
She did a lovely session at the worldwide .NET Conf “Focus on Xamarin”, together with some of the best Xamarin speakers in the world. She started working on a specific topic (UI testing for Xamarin Apps), she wrote some posts, she submitted the session to some events, she did some webinars. Then she was accepted to speak at one of the most important conferences on the topic.
Was Codrina lucky? Probably, but her determination and the fact that she decided to dedicate time and efforts to a topic that received less coverage than others, and that was important for her, led her to the great result. Using her words: “Find something hidden, make it yours, and then make a lot of noise.”
Don’t stay forever inside your niche; otherwise, it could become a prison.
After being, for many years, the rockstar of my niche, thanks to my managers that believed in me, and thanks to the way Microsoft lets you grow outside your comfort zone, I started exploring other niches.
Some of these niches remained small, but I made some of those mainstream, at least for some time (Windows Phone, I still 💘 you).
Don’t you know where to start? Find a mentor!
I had a great mentor at the beginning of my speaking career, that also become one of my greatest friends; then I tried to give back helping others (like Codrina) to explore their possibilities, and improve their thinking.
We’ll talk more about mentors and mentorship in a future post.
BTW, Codrina did the same, and now she’s mentoring four people on Xamarin and other tech stuff.