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Case Study: 1 Talk + 1 Article = 2 New Clients

gsto profile image Glenn Stovall Originally published at glennstovall.com on ・4 min read

Occasionally you get lucky and catch a wave in your career. Technologies come and go. If you adopt new technology before it crests, you can position yourself as someone proficient with that technology and can set yourself up for some great opportunities. Here’s how it happened in my career once.

Why I Learned AngularJS Early

I had a friend working on a client project that had an ambitious UI. It’s 2014, and browsers and JavaScript are not as powerful as they are today. I remember that Trello’s drag and drop that updated other browsers in real-time being a marvel. My friend, a designer competent with code, was looking into using this new thing called “Angular” to manage all the JavaScript. He felt over his head and drowning in billable hours, so he asked me to help.

I knew nothing about Angular but was eager to learn. At the time, jQuery was the JavaScript world. I knew that while jQuery was powerful, it became troublesome to maintain in larger projects. I joined the project, and my friend got me up to speed as best he could. From there, I read what I could find and began working on the project.

Teaching What I Know

During this time, a local meetup put out a call for talks. I had mentioned Angular to a couple of friends, and it sounded intriguing to them, so I decided to give a talk: “Getting started with AngularJS.” While writing the talk, I realized that I was not going to be able to cover everything in the allotted time. Also, I wanted to give attendees some reference material they could take with them. I took the notes from my talk and wrote a companion article: AngularJS: An Overview.

I Didn’t See Myself As an Expert Until Someone Wanted to Hire Me On The Spot

The talk went well, and to my surprise, I landed a new client that night! Someone saw the talk on Meetup and was looking for someone to help their company adopt Angular and build some more intricate parts of their new application. The article also gained some traction and led to an agency reaching out to me and bringing me on to do some work with them as well.

But I Didn’t Capitalize On The Opportunity Like I Could Have

If I knew then what I knew now, I would have doubled down on being “The Angular Guy.” I would have published more articles about Angular. I could have given that talk at meetups in neighboring cities. I could have published a book or videos. I could have offered training or workshops. Looking back, I now know that when I find something that’s working, do more of it. If you listen, one piece of work can tell you what your next piece should be.

After Every Crest Comes Comes a Trough

The other challenge came with Google’s announcement of Angular. They decided to change the framework entirely. The new version was named “Angular,” and the older one was “AngularJS.” Why Google made such an Un-Googleable decision is beyond me. Most of my Angular expertise was null for new systems, and it caused a significant hit in Angular’s popularity. I still see jobs looking for classic AngularJS coding today so that I could have pressed forward on that path. But I was frustrated and scared off at the point. I moved on to other things.

Lessons Learned

Teach Early

You don’t need years of experience to teach. Expertise is relative: an expert is someone who knows more about a subject than you. When you teach, you build your expertise and authority in the eyes of others. Plus, booking yourself for a talk you are ill-equipped for is a great way to motivate you to study and learn faster.

Make More Attempts

I don’t think you can predict waves. Catching this wave felt more like something happened to me instead of I did something. What I do know is that if you can’t predict what works, you can increase your odds by making more attempts. You aren’t going to catch any waves sitting on the shore. That’s why I encourage people to start blogging and publish more frequently.

Double Down on What Works

You have to use whatever advantage you have to make more strategic decisions. When something you do resonates, you found a hint of what direction may yield more results. When things are working, keep doing them. It sounds simple, but many people don’t do it.

Have you had any ‘wins’ lately? Is there a way you can try to build more momentum from them?

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