Last Saturday more than 300 women gathered to learn, discuss and support one another in their technology industry related pursuits at the 2015 Philly Women In Technology Summit. The keynote speech and workshops all pertained to the needs of technology entrepreneurs and professionals inside and outside of the office.
Rule #1: Never forget people make dreams possible
“An idea without a network is just an idea” — Kelly Hoey, @jkhoey
Despite having to rise early on a Saturday morning, the room where opening keynote speaker, Kelly Hoey, serial entrepreneur and investor, would deliver her speech was buzzing. It didn’t take long for Hoey to captivate the women and men in the audience. Hoey’s speech addressed a topic often neglected in the startup scene.
Most entrepreneurs have a deep love for their technical area of expertise. The topics of discussion at tech industry events, naturally, tend to focus on technical skills and techniques entrepreneurs should consider acquiring. The importance of developing a strong reputation within one’s community and building relationships with investors and other experienced community members is oft neglected. As entrepreneurs, we are doing ourselves a great disservice if we fail to build a reputation as being a trusted advisor within our specialty area with our greater community. Entrepreneurs who fail to build relationships with a network of people who can become the first or tenth to try, buy and invest in their product or service put themselves at great risk of stunting their business idea’s growth potential.
— Ellen King (@ellenking) April 18, 2015
— Evelaser (@fricknlaserbeam) April 18, 2015
Rule #2: You can achieve anything you commit to learning
As a marketing content writer, I write pieces that touch on subjects like big data and cybersecurity for tech startups. The workshop sessions I chose, as a result, reflected my need to deepen my understanding in this area. The majority of the women speaking who worked in big data and IT security, taught themselves how to use technical programs and software outside of the classroom setting.
Professional skill enrichment is necessary in order to progress one’s career, whether working for a large corporation or in a scrappy startup. Long after founding my company, I still spend immense amounts of time reading reports and articles released by marketing technology companies, research think tanks, and marketing leaders from a variety of industries. I’m forever learning. To succeed running or leading within a business, you also must always be learning.
Rule #3: Regardless of the industry, those who are able to make sense of data will win big. My business needs data to win.
By 2020 the world will have 40 zetabytes of data. 50% of that data will have been created in the last 10 years. Businesses need smart people to think up innovative ways to tell stories that communicate potential businesses opportunities and risks through data. Across every industry, increased access to data is forcing businesses large and small to completely reconfigure their business models. Monsanto, for instance, is using sensors to gather large amounts of data and predict farmers’ outputs. Anyone passionate about data can find big datasets and potentially save large sums for their business. One of the big data workshop leaders, Mercy Beckham, uses public data sets from the White House to sharper her data analysis and visualization skills. Startup leaders must encourage members of their team to do the same.
How can data be used to better inform your business decisions or the decisions your target customers make? For many tech startups like RJ Metrics, marketing content based on large data sets helped their startup develop a reputation as being expert knowledge holders. What insights could your employees gather to help your business operate more smoothly or enhance your value to customers?
Rule #4: No is a hurdle, not a roadblock.
The workers of today must be more dynamic than ever. As new technologies continue to throw our economy spinning, many people are being challenged to evolve and apply their professional knowledge to foreign industries or job functions. Most people are forced to let go of their fears and make unconventional career jumps at certain moments of their career. Women and men as successful as Renee Chenault-Fattah and Steve Jobs were no exception. When facing situations where you and the company you work for or own is no longer working out, the worst thing you can do is prolong the inevitable break that needs to occur. What’s your exit strategy? How will you pivot and break into something new? Always be one step ahead of your next step. As long as you’re sowing seeds for your future, the inevitable “no’s” that face you will be hurdles that can easily be jumped or knocked over.
— PHILLY I.T. DIVA (@Daises2008) April 18, 2015
— Kristen Maynes (@kristenhayduk) April 18, 2015
All in all, I daresay the 2015 Philly Women In Technology Summit achieved its goal of providing both inspirational and practical support to women working in the technology field. The tweets shared by attendees throughout the day echo my sentiments.
I realized today that I'm building a friggin' awesome network of potential new hires. #phlwits
— Adelaide Braddock (@adibraddock) April 18, 2015
What lessons did you takeaway from the 2015 Philly Women In Technology Summit? Did you find yourself defining new goals for yourself?