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Confessions of a Lotusphere Speaker

So you want to speak at IBM Connect, but you don’t know how to get from here to there.  There is, of course, no guaranteed set of steps that will get you there.  However, I can tell you some steps that I think might help you.  Well, who is she to tell me, you ask.  I went from attending my first Lotusphere in 2008, where I didn’t know a single person, I didn’t know about Planet Lotus or Bleedyellow or the community, to speaking at Lotusphere three years in a row (and sitting here hoping for my fourth).

Side note, while none of this guarantees you’ll speak at IBM Connect, you will get to meet new people, you will learn new stuff, you may even possibly be considered an expert at something, all of which will help you and your career.

How did I do it?  I got involved.  Below are my suggestions for getting involved.  Again, this by no means guarantees that you will speak at IBM Connect, but it won’t hurt. Getting involved in the community and getting known by the community will make you a safer choice for speaker selection than being a complete unknown.  So here we go -

Twitter – if you don’t have an account, create one, now.  Start following people “in the community”. Leave your account open.  People won’t be as likely to follow you or RT you if your account is protected.  Start tweeting.  It doesn’t all have to be technical, but it helps if at least some of it is.  Tweet a quick tip or a question.  Retweet a useful tweet from someone else.  Tweet a link to a useful article or blog post.  Include a hashtag where applicable (but don’t over do it).  Start replying occasionally to the people you follow.  Both personally and technically.  It’s like a really big cocktail party.  Start making friends.  :)

Stack Overflow – create an account.  Stack Overflow is becoming “the place to be” for XPages knowledge. Start asking and answering questions.  I am actually behind on this one.  I’ve got an account, but haven’t asked or answered any questions!  Shame on me!

Blog – create a blog.  WordPress, blogspot.  Lots of free and easy ways to do this.  Blog posts don’t have to be long.  Quick tips, tricks, cool stuff you’ve done.  Or stuff you’ve read about.  You can ask questions, too.  Link to other people’s articles.  Once you’ve got some content, get on Planet Lotus.  Go read Marky Roden’s post about community blogs.

Notes in 9 – create a video of how to do something.  Keep it short, simple, and sweet.  Contact David Leedy.  He’d love to have your video.

Do an internal training where you work.  Create an abstract, title, slide deck, demo app, etc.  Practice it before you present it.  Present it.  This will help you see how much work goes into presenting a session and give you feedback on what to do better next time.

Local user group meetings (the one day at lunch kind, versus the multi-day conference kind).  Attend them. Meet people.  Speak at one.

LUG – submit abstracts to LUGs.  Sure, everyone wants to go to IBM Connect.  But IBM Connect charges attendees a lot of money to attend, they are going to try hard to have the best speakers.  Gambling on someone who is completely unknown is a gamble for them.  It is way easier for them to say yes if they saw you speak at a LUG, or heard about your awesome presentation at a LUG.

If you do get a chance to speak, read Confessions of a Public Speaker.

Put all of these things together.  Write a blog post, tweet it.  Speak at a LUG, tweet/blog it.  Mention your blog on your Notes in 9 video.  Don’t be annoying, but it’s totally acceptable to promote yourself.

For all of the above social networks/blogs/etc, make a profile.  Don’t leave it with the default avatar.  If possible, make it the same avatar across networks and preferably a picture of you.  Try to create the same name everywhere.  I try to use “RunningKathy” everywhere.  I try to use the same picture, which is a professional headshot of me.  This all creates a “brand”, which is you, which is helpful when a track manager sees your name with an abstract.  They will think, “oh!  so and so, I know them!”.

Also for all of what was suggested, ALWAYS GIVE CREDIT.  Two reasons, a) so you aren’t a jerk who steals people’s content. and b) the creator will see that you’ve posted their stuff and maybe start following you and your work.

Once you’re ready to write an abstract, go read the following:

Gab Davis on writing an abstract

Paul Mooney on writing an abstract

My article on writing an abstract

Lastly, what you can do if your abstract wasn’t accepted


  • Pingback: Great post by Kathy Brown on how to be a Lotusphere/Connect speaker | The Pridelands()

  • http://twitter.com/ajbarickman Andrew Barickman

    Nice job Kathy. I am inspired… maybe I will start a blog after all. : )

  • http://beyondthedefaults.com/ Abby Butts

    Stack Overflow is one I keep forgetting about as well.  Like you I have an account but often forget to search it for what I need.  And the LUGs are great for meeting new people at a smaller, more intimate event and still hear the same quality material.  Great post!

  • Pingback: Speak at a LUG | Running Notes()