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5 Pillars: No More Boring Events!

Intro: 5 Pillars Method

“I applied there, but never heard back.” How many times we have seen a promising company or exciting opportunity online. We polish our resume, send it away and cross our fingers. A day goes by, then three. The automated thank you email is all we have.


This series will show you how to build a bridge to your next big thing. You will take small, proactive steps one after the other to get yourself over the line. You will learn something from every step and evaluate opportunities more accurately. You don’t have rely on talent or luck for this success. You can invent and define your own career path with these 5 Pillars.

Why Events?

Events should unlock new relationships, fresh insights and clear next steps.

We all know we should attend events. Companies flood our inbox with ‘can’t miss’ invitations. They promise amazing insights and elite opportunities. Unfortunately, if you do not apply clear intention and a structured approach, events can waste your time.

This article proposes how to maximize career value from select events. Events should unlock new relationships, fresh insights and clear next steps. Investing here early will inform your strategy for the 5 Pillars.

Select only events where you can accomplish these three steps. Ideally this should be the annual summit for the company you want to work for, in the city you want to work in.


To Do List

1) Learn the ecosystem

2) Capture the narrative

3) Create next steps with hiring managers


Prioritize opportunities to listen to the voice of the customer and identify key frameworks.

At events, prioritize opportunities to listen to the voice of the customer and identify key frameworks. Referencing real customer stories while speaking with your target company shows empathy and critical thinking. Identifying frameworks (like agile development, DevOps, lean startup, cloud migration checklist) will inform your learning path.


Step 1: Learn the Ecosystem

Strike up a conversation that creates new opportunities at a partner or solution provider.

In the knowledge economy, we observe a proliferation of services. Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure, Platform and so on. It is difficult to make sense of these services before you understand the ecosystem: interdependent, competitive, and cooperative. Try to familiarize yourself with the dance among customers, partners, providers and professional services companies.


On the event floor, see them laid out side by side. Walk the aisles, take in the breadth and depth. Your #1 goal might be getting hired at the Big Tech hosting the event. Many roles depend on partnering inside this ecosystem. Strike up a conversation that creates new opportunities at a partner or solution provider. This also creates options in case your Plan A doesn't work out.


Step 2: Capture the Narrative

Companies spend a lot of resource to promote 2-3 key messages. You should take every opportunity to understand these. Write them down and unpack them later. Research the trend and predict why they chose this message over any other this year. Ask people at the event and review with mentors later.


By now, their employees have heard these hundreds of times at trainings and events. Reference these messages in your conversations to build rapport and signal in-group status.


I wanted to work for AWS, so I attended their annual summit in London. They placed three key messages in the keynote and every customer talk. This led me to research, reading and follow on conversations until I understood why. When I entered the interview phase, I could ask intelligent questions and spar with them on strategy. After my hire, interviewers told me this curiosity set me apart from other candidates.


Here were the three messages and why I believe they selected them.

  1. ‘You can retire legacy debt and achieve 35% cost savings with cloud’