Thursday, April 14, 2011

5 Atlanta Learning-Industry Events You Shouldn't Miss - April 2011

Wow, this post is late this month. But there are still five great options for learning professionals in the Atlanta area. Here are are a few events you shouldn't miss this month (or at least should strongly consider). Hope to see you there.

Measuring Informal Learning at Equifax

April 19

Measurement and informal learning are both hot trending topics. During this ASTD Atlanta Chapter meeting, Alan Brewer of Equifax and Rick Graves of KnowledgeAdvisors will seek to define informal learning and then discuss when (and hopefully some 'how') it should be measured.

I really enjoyed ISPI Atlanta's event on Informal Learning Measurement last month. That was led by KnowledgeAdvisor's John Maddox. We might see some of the same themes here.

Register for the ASTD Atlanta Chapter meeting.

Using Interactive Workshops/Games to Improve Sales Training (from DrawSuccess)

April 20

During this ASTD Atlanta Sales Performance Improvement SIG event, Brownell Landrum of DrawSuccess will lead participants through an interactive process that will help us come up with ideas for improving our own sales training effectiveness. I've never heard Brownell speak, but have heard good things. Plus, the Sales Performance Improvement SIG has quickly become one of my favorites.

Register for the Sales Performance Improvement SIG.

Going Undercover & How It Adds to Corporate Strategy and HR Excellence

April 21

I love the CBS show Undercover Boss. And this SHRM Atlanta chapter meeting will feature two Atlanta CEOs who were on the program, Coby Brooks of Hooters and Joel Manby of Herschend Family Entertainment Corporation. They'll talk about how their experiences on the show have given them a better understanding of the challenges within the organization. Cool stuff.

Register for the SHRM Atlanta Chapter meeting.

How Does Personality Help or Hurt Leaders Facing Daunting Challenges?

April 25

Mark Scullard, co-author of The 8 Dimensions of Leadership, will discuss with the ASTD Atlanta NE SIG his DisC model research and what part personality plays in helping leaders meet the challenges of leading in a global economy.

Register for the ASTD Atlanta Northeast SIG.

What does mobile learning mean to you?

April 28

And here's the other hot topic -- mobile learning. This Technology Association of Georgia Workplace Learning Society meeting promises to demonstrate a wide variety of mLearning examples and give ideas that we all can implement in our own learning strategies. Presenters are from ElementK, Merlin Mobility, and Silly Monkey. I'm really excited about this one.

Register for TAG Workplace Learning.

Be sure to start prepping your calendars for May; there are some great events coming on topics such as Predictive Evaluation (ISPI Atlanta), Building a Culture of Accountability (ASTD Atlanta Organizational Development), and Best Practices for eLearning Simulations (ASTD Atlanta Technology-Based Learning).

What They Didn't Teach You in School

TAG's Young Professionals society met Wednesday, April 13th at The Ivy in Buckhead to discuss the do's and don't of professional networking.

A host of TAG board members led a panel discussion centered on networking etiquette at 'Bizology 101: What They Didn't Teach You in School' to a packed crowd of about 50, well, young professionals.

"Networking doesn't have to be a high-stress environment," said Josh Lewis, TAG's Young Professionals Staff Liason and co-organizer of the event. "It doesn't have to be a scary thing. It's a beneficial thing."

The advice amounted to a hodge podge of personal experiences and general advice. Many of the speakers agree with, reiterated, or added to their fellow presenters recommendations.

The underlying theme reiterated the importance of networking. Every panelest had a business success story derived from a networking experience.

"If it wasn't for networking the vast majority of the important people in my life I wouldn't have met," said Marcus Bearden, VP of Technology at Caceron and panelest at the event. By his own account he met his two biggest clients, his best friend, and his current roommate through professional networking.

At the event, judging by a show of hands, the majority of the young professionals in attendance made a contact that night they planned to follow-up on (myself included).

On the Panel:
  • Sarah DeVries - moderator
    Account Manager, Blinq Media
  • Bowden Brown
    Technical Product Manager, Wolters Kluwer
  • Adam Fisher
    Senior Account Executive, Canvas Systems
  • Marcus Bearden
    VP of Technology, Carceron
  • Meg Lyon
    Account Manager, Hewlett-Packard Company

The Does and Don'ts:
  • Why is networking important? How do you begin?
    - Everyone on the panel had landed a job or gained clients from networking.
    - Don't be scared to break the ice. EVERYONE is there to network, not just you.
    - Don't be scared to interrupt a circle. It shows you can be direct and get things done.

  • What is proper networking etiquette? How long should I talk to someone?
    - DON'T SELL YOURSELF! It looks desperate.
    - Have a short 'elevator pitch' about who you are and what you do.
    - Build rapport. Make it personal. It's not all about work.
    - Ask 3 questions: 1) Where do you work? 2) What do you do? 3) How can I help?
    - At national events consider asking question 4: Where are you from?

  • Should I eat and/or drink while networking?
    - One or the other, not both.
    - Have common sense. Do what your Mom taught you.

  • What are some of the best tactics to remember names?
    - Ask twice.
    - Repeat immediately.
    - Only go to networking events with name tags.
    - Make notes on back of their business card.

  • What's the best way to follow-up after the event?
    - If you make a really good contact the follow-up begins during the conversation.
    - Take a tiered approach depending on how important the contact is: call = highest priority, LinkedIn = lowest, e-mail = somewhere in the middle.
    - Set expectations and be consistent.
    - Build the relationship over a series of meetings and events.
    - Be prompt.

  • What are the biggest does and don'ts of networking?
    - DON'T SELL YOURSELF! "Don't be that guy."
    - Be genuine. "Don't promise the moon if you can't deliver."
    - Be consistent. Follow through.
The Technology Association of Georgia's Young Professionals meet the second Wednesday of each month. Their next event is a networking mixer and Braves game (no panel discussion this time) on March 11, 2011 at Turner Field.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Technology Sector to Lead Georgia's Economic Recovery: Technology in Georgia Report

On Thursday April 7 the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG) convened a panel discussion on the results of the 2011 State of the Industry: Technology in Georgia Report on the campus of Georgia Tech. Regrettably I was unable to attend.

Each year TAG commissions the report to assess the perception and economic impact of the technology sector in Georgia and benchmark against other states similarly strong in technology.

“We know that Georgia has a very large technology footprint, but it does not usually receive the recognition it deserves – especially when it comes to cluster where we lead the nation,” said TAG President Tino Mantella.

In post-panel interviews, panelists Mantella and Keith Herndon, President of Internet Decisions, separately agreed on the most important key finding from the report: the technology sector will lead in Georgia’s economic recovery.

“Every year, we survey top decision makers in the technology industry to determine their plans for expansion and hiring in the next year,” Mantella said. “ Of the 120 respondents to our 2010 survey, 70-percent said they have plans to increase their workforce during 2011.”

“We can really improve the standard of living in the state,” said Herndon. “Technology jobs on average pay almost twice the typical job” and account for a roughly 10 percent of employment in the state.

Herndon’s Internet Decisions completed the secondary research and analysis for the State of the Industry Report.

The report cited the critical need for companies to have access to a quality labor market with 82 percent of Georgia technology companies expected to see growth in the next five years. Even now some companies are having difficulty filling pivotal positions.

“One thing that’s important is the impact that Georgia’s research industry has in the state,” said Herndon, citing the many research universities located in the state. “If you have that kind of research and development going on it attracts entrepreneurs.”

Georgia is also known as a hotspot for entrepreneurial activity by Mantella’s account. The state averages 200 more business start-ups per month than the national average. All of the start-ups aren’t technology based, but Mantella point’s to the Obama Administration’s choice of Atlanta to host a ‘Startup America Roundtable’ event as proof of a strong community of technology entrepreneurs.

A detailed breakdown of key-findings - along with interactive maps and the complete State of the Industry Report - is available on the SOIR website.

Key findings

  1. Georgia’s technology sector will lead the state’s economic recovery.
  2. Georgia needs more venture capital.
  3. Corporate investment in Georgia’s technology sector is healthy.
  4. Georgia’s technology company growth outpaces the nation.
  5. Georgia’s research universities are key to the state’s technology status.
  6. Five out of the top ten export categories in Georgia are technology-related.
  7. Atlanta’s impressive broadband footprint is a key business attractor.
  8. Availability of quality labor is crucial to technology decision makers.
  9. Technology jobs lead Georgia’s labor market.
  10. Technology decision makers say there is room for improvement in Georgia’s business climate.