Out of your private club

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Flying for me is usually one of the best moments to write blog posts. I like flying, exactly as I like trains, because the lack of internet connection (at least on the vast majority of european flights I usually take) and those hours when I can sit down and relax and let someone else drive me to destination, are the perfect time to open up my computer, and without all the internet distractions be able to focus on writing. Being it writing a new blog post, finalizing a presentation, reviewing a white paper. I’m almost ready to fly back home after few days spent in Tel Aviv for the Veeam On Tour event organized by our local team, and I’m thinking a little bit about how these presentation activities are working for me.

It’s a small world

Usually, I attend events where I really feel like at home. The best example is VMworld, but there are many conferences that I really like. And not only because there are so many people I know and that I can finally meet again. The main reason, probably unconsciously, is because we are all in a sort of a private club, and this makes everything really easy. When I talk to anyone at VMworld, I can safely skip topics like hypervisors, VMs, snapshots, vmotion, and such. Even if the one I’m talking with doesn’t know about Veeam or me, the starting point of the conversation is already done by the common knowledge we have on the same topics.

Few months ago, I had however a totally different experience, that was really eye-opening. I attended Spiceworld in London in May. Spiceworks is an online independent community for IT professionals, not promoted or financed by any vendor, and they organize their own conferences in both US and EMEA. Veeam is really active in this community (not me personally), so we decided to co-sponsor the event.

What was really fascinating, and challenging at the same time, was the kind of people I met during those two days, and how they relate to the world I work into.

Have you ever met someone who comes to you, and asks you “what do you do?”. Except your parents and friends (to them, I say “I work with computers”, it’s hard to explain them what I do…), I’m pretty sure it doesn’t happens really often, isn’t it? We meet prospects, customers, competitors, work friends, and even with all the existing differences, we all work in the same market. but when you meet, like I did, a guy who works with wordpress, and barely knows about the servers running his websites, it a great challenge to explain him what my company does. Like in any “business” conversation, you  probably have more or less one minute to gain his attention. But none of your pillars are there: no virtualization, no hypervisor, no shared storage. You need to start from your very beginning, and tell him a convincing story nonetheless. You need to really focus on “what we do” and say it in a simple and clear way. For me, it was not “we develop data availability solutions for virtualized environments”, but the real start was “we are a software company”. You see the difference?

Go outside

That’s what I mean by “out of your private club”: we focus so much in the technology details of our own world, that we forget at times the base of our market. But if we do a step back and look at our work from a certain distance, it probably becomes more clear. Those two days were a really nice experience, and I’m happy that I was able by the end of the second day to tell in only one minute what Veeam is about, and get everyone understand it.

Oh, and thanks to this I finally found a way to tell my mom what I do at work. “No, mom, I do not fix computers. Let me tell you what I really do. Do you have one minute?” 🙂