Do you see yourself speaking in front 100 people? It sounds scary, right? I agree that leaving your comfort zone is not easy and specially in IT where we love to be a kind of evolved couch potatoes that instead of watching TV, we are watching a monitor for hours and hours, coding, eating pizza with coke, watching videos on Netflix or reading the next trend in Reddit, lovely, isn't it? The perfect life!
However, if you like it or not sales are part of our daily lives or aren't they? Maybe you will be thinking: "But I hate salespeople!" or "I hate those annoying cold calls offering me combs when I'm bald!"
But let's be serious, don't you sell all the time? If you need to ask a girl for a date you're selling yourself as a potential candidate or if you want to trade a shiny Pokémon with your friends; let's say a shiny Heracross because he travelled to Peru for his holidays and you don't have it, you need persuading him about your wish, etc. We can move to professional services anytime you have had an interview with your future employer or partner you need to sell your services as the best one in the field or the most affordable. Selling is just part of nature and we cannot avoid it, we are constantly trading since the beginning of times.
I can give you an example that recently I experience in my company. Currently, I'm a Technology Analyst and besides programming I need to provide solutions when any client approaches me; not so long ago, one of our clients asked me to advice a solution of CI/CD and there were a couple of alternatives.
- Team City.
- Azure DevOps.
Typically, as a good IT guys we would go to the most technical details as possible with a so high vocabulary to impress the managers with our smartness, but somehow I am sure you have experienced that more than once when you start speaking about this things with non-IT people they feel lost and you become frustrated, right?
I can tell you that if I had gone in so many details the managers of the project would have stopped me and told me: "Go straight to the point, how can we integrate for tomorrow?" They care little about those technical details that we love so much, they care about the ROI (Return of Investment, the cheapest solution) and how long is going to take (the fastest solution). My proposal of Azure DevOps was approved because I explained with little details that we have access to Azure and mostly our projects are based on Microsoft technologies.
My experience of going to hackathons and talking to managers and operations have showed me that is crucial to be able to sell my ideas to get the results that I negotiate and if I am not able to sell, I'd be stack in certain position of my company and I will complain how other people progress in the career ladder.
You need to take every opportunity that you have at work to try explaining your ideas even if they are small to get feedback and improve your opportunities if not one day you would be frustrated (if you're not already) and you would feel that nothing that you do helps you to farther. Think carefully for a moment in someone that you know who have gone to the next position, does this person know how to speak? If you think in leaders in any field, Barack Obama, Santya Nadela, Emma Watson, etc. They are there not always the very best in their fields, but they are able to sell their skills and knowledge to the right people, we miss a lot these skills in IT because we want to have as little interactions as possible with anyone.
I didn't learn the value of these skills in the nicest way, perhaps, most of people would have never tried again, I lost a lot of money almost monthly for 2 years in several contests where I presented my ideas in front of bankers to get some funds. Do I recommend the harsh way of going to hackathons and being the seller of your team? Of course I do, but it's not for everyone and you need to have a lot of will power, patience and tolerance to lose and feel your dreams become ashes in front of your eyes and try getting something from that moment, what did I learn? What did I do wrong?, etc.
Not so long ago, I found an alternative that you can try: Toastmaters. In this place, I found a location where you can get positive feedback and support when you need to present your ideas and learn from your mistakes without being criticized, they are almost everywhere and you can give them a try.
From my experience, I can advice that everyone should start leaving their comfort zone and becoming a salesman or saleswoman since if you are always behind the screen, sooner or later, you will discover that is not enough and it might be too late.