20 January 2017

"And what do you do?"

This Wednesday (18th), I attended the SME Cambridgeshire Communications & Awards Masterclass networking event in Cambourne, to learn more about effective business communication and do some networking. It was definitely worthwhile attending, but I also learned something very interesting that wasn't part of the presentations.

I didn't have a really nice, clear, interesting answer to "And what do you do?"

I'd usually end up rambling:

"I'm a freelance web systems developer. I'm mainly experienced in Java, but I'm also making good progress learning Ruby on Rails..."
Yawn. I could almost see the words bouncing off most people. I've lost them by this point. The phrase "web systems developer" also raised a few eyebrows.

When I got home, I realised I had to work on my response. My elevator pitch, if you will. In fact, it also helped me refine what exactly I offer, what excites me, and what distinguishes myself.

Firstly, technologies are irrelevant to most people. They're interested in the sorts of things I can do for them, not how I do it. If tech matters to them, they'll ask.

Secondly, I've worked on some cool projects, particularly while at Jagex, so I should enthuse about them! Use those as examples of what I can do.

So, now I'd probably end up replying to that question with something like this:

"I'm a freelance web systems developer. While I can develop simple websites from scratch, I specialise in implementing more complex data-driven applications, integrations with other websites and services, that sort of thing."
If they give the impression of being interested, I'd continue:

"I have nearly a decade of experience in the games industry. I've implemented things like dynamic high score tables, a very flexible custom accounts system, and third party integrations like sending automated event-driven emails, dynamically importing data managed in external services. Those sorts of things. I've also run Agile development teams, so I've got lots of good experience with various Agile methodologies.

Those are the kind of things I have experience with, and what excites me."
It still needs a bit of refinement, and I have no intention of reciting it verbatim, but it's definitely more interesting and descriptive!

Based upon my discoveries doing this exercise, and some additional things I learned at the event, I've slightly restructured the homepage. As you may've noticed! I've raised the priority of the testimonials, to hopefully grab the visitor's attention first (yes, I'm a real person!), and then they can browse my Technologies and Practices list if it takes their fancy.

There may be more changes coming up later, as I work on my branding :).

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