How to Maximize Your Networking Opportunities at a Conference

How to Maximize Your Networking Opportunities at a Conference

When you’re working, you want to see an ROI in everything you do. That’s why conferences are sometimes ignored by some people. That’s because these conferences take precious time away from their work, and even from their family. It’s tiring to travel, and there are the costs of the transportation and the hotel to consider. Is it really worth going?

But conferences are great opportunities to network, and you can maximize your networking benefits with the following tips:

Use the Conference App

A lot of conferences these days offer a free app. These offer schedules and other convenient features and data, and often there’s a chat or a messaging platform included. Download this app and use it extensively. Use the conference hashtags to boost your visibility with other people going to the event.

Sit in Front

Many of us subconsciously regard front row sitters the way we did when we were first in school. The front row folks seem somehow “nerdy”. They seem to be too serious and ambitious.

But these are actually the sort of people you want to network with. They’re the ones who take things seriously, so you can pick their brains regarding various topics. What’s more, you can connect with them and you gain a new contact.

Optimize Your Break Time

You’ve listened to one speaker, and now there’s a short break before a new speaker comes on. What do you do? Maybe you visit the restroom, but after that you may end up just playing with your phone and talking to the folks back home.

Instead, use this time to connect to people. The break time may be too short to really connect with people, but you may want to consider leaving early for some session so you can go to the restroom and then sue the next whole break time for networking.

In fact, you may want to sit out a few sessions altogether and spend that time instead with the common areas with other conference attendees. If you find others going to the same conference as you, then you certainly should have plenty of topics to talk about.

Don’t Skip the Receptions

Yes, after a day listening to various speakers you may want to rest in your hotel room and just order room service to wind down. But this is a mistake. Receptions are there because they offer excellent networking opportunities. If there’s one, be sure to attend it.

What if there’s no reception? That doesn’t mean room service for you. Sit at the hotel bar and order a few snacks or a meal. Sooner or later, you’ll find other people from the conference drifting in. The setting will be much more casual with a few drinks, so networking can be much more effective.

Email

Send emails to the speakers and remark on what you enjoyed or learned from their talks. Such emails can make you stand out. You can also follow them on Twitter or connect with them through LinkedIn.

Send emails to the people you’ve met as well. Now that you’ve started a connection, it’s time to cultivate it.

So you see, going to a conference can be worth it. You learn something from the talks, and you also widen your network. That’s a great ROI for your time and effort.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

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5 Best Ways to Motivate Your Employees in 2019

5 Effective Ways to Motivate Your Employees in 2019

Every entrepreneur should know just how crucial motivation is in the success of their business. This inner drive can easily push your business to reach new heights as it’s the very key to productivity.

While you might have all the reasons in the world to work hard for your business, your team members might not be in the same boat as you. Your employees can be motivated by lots of things to do well in their jobs but there are instances that they lose sight of what drives them. This can then cause some lagging in your venture’s progress.

Effective Techniques to Motivate Your Employees

What can you do when you hit a snag like this? The first thing would be to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Try to determine whether you’re providing an ideal work environment for your workers.

It is said that it’s all about balance if you want to stay motivated.

Just think about it: lots of leaders and entrepreneurs get to enjoy a good balance between work and rest because they have already achieved a certain amount of success. The relative freedom that comes with success is pretty much a reward for the hard work required for the achievement.

As a result, you’re freed to focus on other things and even relax a bit since you don’t have to do everything anymore. This gives you ample free time to balance work and play to help you stay leveled and in good shape to focus with work the next day.

Not all workplaces offer the same thing to all of its employees and it can kill their motivation and hurt their productivity. So how do you remedy such an issue? Here are five ways that you can try:

1. Offer a salary increase

If your employee has consistently worked hard to provide great results for your company, then, rewarding them with an increase in salary would be the best way to keep them motivated. This is the most popular form of expressing your appreciation for their efforts.

By providing a slight increase in their salary, they’ll know that their hard work is not in vain. They’ll feel fully acknowledged for persevering to achieve and exceed company goals.

As a lot of experts say, your best investment is your people, so you should look at this technique as another solid investment for your business. With a group of highly motivated and highly productive people, you can be sure that your business will move forward.

2. Incentivize regularly

Can’t afford to increase your team’s salary just yet? Then incentivizing achievements could be a great alternative. This doesn’t have to come in monetary form all the time, though. Sometimes you can just host a fun activity or a celebration instead. It can also come in the form of vacation days and even small gifts.

The best time to incentivize your crew is when they successfully achieved something as a team. If it’s not exactly a major feat, hosting a celebration of sorts would be a good way to express your appreciation for their hard work. You can take the whole team out for dinner, drinks, or even an actual vacation. You can decide depending on what their accomplishments are.

Small incentives can also be great motivators. Some companies like to give out gifts to their top performers from time to time so you can also do that if your business requires individual work.

Giving your team ample time off can also be a good way to keep them in high spirits. This will help them achieve a healthy work-life balance, so you should also look closely into this kind of incentive.

3. Be expressive in your appreciation

Commending your team members when they did a good job is possibly the simplest way to keep your people motivated. It’s also one of the most overlooked techniques, so as a team leader, you should keep this trick in mind.

The most effective way to execute this trick is by having one-on-ones with your team members after they performed well. Doing this can easily validate their hard work which can work wonders on their mood and how they look at their job. These talks can also help you establish a better connection with your employees and improve your professional relationship so it’s a win for everyone.

4. Offer free food

If your operations allow it, why not offer free food as well? It’s proven that free food can lighten the mood in any setting, so it would be a great idea to add it to your workplace.

Being well-fed while taking on important challenges can really help boost a person’s mood. It can make your team feel like they’re being cared for. It can also provide some financial ease since they don’t have to spend money to fill their stomachs.

5. Create learning opportunities

Aside from accomplishing tasks and getting recognized for it, it’s also important to make your team realize that they’re not headed towards a dead-end. They shouldn’t feel like they’re stuck or that their careers are headed nowhere. This will make them lose all of their motivation and it will be tough to gain them back again.

Countering this shouldn’t be a tricky thing to do. You can always find ways to show them the bigger picture that they’re a part of. Your employees can surely see how the business is progressing thanks to their hard work.

Aside from this, you should also create opportunities for their growth. This is the very reason why companies send their top people to seminars and training. These can better hone their skills and teach them new skills that can be beneficial for the business.

Promotions are also essential. Even in smaller businesses, it could help if you can increase the responsibilities tasked on your top performers. This will not just make them feel rewarded for their hard work but it can also help them move ahead in their professional life.

Motivating your employees may be tricky but it’s highly necessary if you want your business to succeed. All of your efforts will prove to be well worth it in the end if you do manage to motivate your employees as it can lead to productivity and low turnover numbers.

Here are a few other ideas

Author Details
Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com
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Editor-In-Chief
A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, and Raytheon. A mentor at LMU Entrepreneur School. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; also invested in some.

john@lastartups.com

How is Coworking Great For The Los Angeles Tech Scene

100 Shared Office And Desk Space to Work in Los Angeles

Check out these 100 coworking spaces in LA.

Co-working spaces have started to take off recently, and it’s all thanks to the need of business locations. A city like Los Angeles tends to have very high rent and purchase prices for real estate, and that means you need to find a great way to acquire new business locations. But if you’re a business or a freelancer that needs a business presence yet which lacks the necessary amount of money, it’s super hard for you to get the job done properly and not worry about possible problems.

And that’s where the need for co-working places comes into play. These locations are very different when compared to a regular office for example. And that’s because there are multiple businesses all residing in a single place.

How is co-working great for the Los Angeles Tech Scene?

Tons of startups want to grow and evolve. And they can totally do that with the right amount of help and support. Even freelancers need a proper business location as they want to avoid working from home. Juice bars and coffee shops are ok for them, but they can end up being problematic as time goes by. You are much better off going for a shared workspace. You do have plenty of space to share with others, yet at the same time, you can fulfill your tasks and just enjoy your time without that much of a problem too.

The Los Angeles co-working spaces are designed with affordability in mind. They are quite affordable, way more affordable than a rental. That’s why most freelancers and startup owners gravitate towards such a place. They also encourage networking, which is why a lot of people enjoy co-working in the first place. It just offers you a way to connect with business professionals in the same industry.

And since the tech industry is booming in Los Angeles, it’s easy to see that the co-working spaces are amazing networking places, to begin with. On top of that, they do offer flexibility. You are free to come and work at any given hour during the day or night. And you also have amenities like coffee machines, fully equipped kitchens and so on. The only difference is that you don’t have to worry about the leasing formalities anymore. And the costs are way lower, which is what makes this entire process very convenient and amazing in its own right.

Who uses co-working spaces in Los Angeles?

It might sound a bit cliché, but every business that wants to grow and save money tends to focus on this type of spaces. And the benefit is that they can easily make quite a lot of money while also avoiding lots of expenses. Every tiny expense matters if you plan on saving money, so it certainly makes a lot of sense to use such co-working spaces.

But the interesting thing is that even some of the large organizations are coming onboard with this. It makes a lot of sense to use co-working spaces especially when they want to transition to a new building. Plus, they can cut the expenses if they want to downsize and use a smaller team, then outsource some of the other tasks.

The great thing is that tons of companies in Los Angeles see co-working spaces as an opportunity, and that’s great for them. Even companies like Merck, KPMG and many others are actively involved in using co-working spaces. So it’s safe to say that there’s a lot of interesting in using such working spaces, and it’s something that you will enjoy and appreciate quite a bit due to that.

How does this affect the rental prices?

Since we are talking about Los Angeles, the rental prices are still very high and they are not going to be lower anytime soon. There’s a huge demand for office spaces in the town, so companies that create co-working spaces are the right solution especially for smaller businesses that want to grow and which need to establish their own presence in the city.

An interesting thing about co-working spaces is that they also provide virtual addresses. That means customers or business partners can easily send inquiries or packages to the company and they will be received at the co-working space. It’s a great way to acquire a Los Angeles office address, and the best part is it costs way less than regular rent prices.

Do these co-working spaces replicate a traditional office?

In some ways they do, because you do have amenities and immediate access to features that are a part of any office. These include printers, scanners and any utilities needed by various companies. Some co-working spaces in Los Angeles have 3D printers too, not to mention they have small conference rooms too. So you can actually create or attend a conference in there without any problems.

You do have to wonder, who is the target for these co-working spaces? As we mentioned earlier, small companies and freelancers are extremely important for those persons that create co-working spaces. However, if we talk about the age range, most of the time the interested persons will be millennials. They are the ones that have lots of great ideas and which lack the funds to create a large business.

The co-working spaces in Los Angeles provide them with enough space to work on their projects, all while still being able to connect with other business professionals. However, you will also find older and more experienced business professionals and freelancers that work from the co-working spaces. They decided to opt for these co-working spaces because they offer more efficiency and a great way to generate leads and new business partners or attracting new clients.

As you can see, more and more co-working spaces are used in Los Angeles, and it’s a great thing to hear. Small and medium-sized businesses are actively focused on innovation, and they want to use all their income to grow and evolve. The last thing they want is to spend most of their money on rent, so the co-working spaces are very convenient for them!

Check out these 100 coworking spaces in LA.

Author Details
Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.
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Santa Monica, Culver City, Venice, Hollywood, and beyond
LAStartups.com is a digital lifestyle publication that covers the culture of startups and technology companies in Los Angeles. It is the go-to site for people who want to keep up with what matters in Los Angeles’ tech and startups from those who know the city best.

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

Can You Measure Software Developer Productivity?

The cost of software development kills innovation by limiting resources available to solve problems

THE PRODUCTIVITY DILEMMA

Let’s face it – software development is expensive.  Really expensive.  It’s not hard to understand why – software development is a complicated and still-maturing industry, and as the sector grows, it actually gets more complicated, not less, because of the acceleration of changes in technologies, programming languages, and toolsets.

As a technology consultant, one who is paid to help build expensive, complex systems, I should be happier than a fanboy on a Fortnite bender about this trend, right?  Wrong – it frustrates me a great deal.  My job is to solve problems and build things that people need, and that gets harder when funding becomes a challenge for our clients.

So here’s the question I’ve been grappling with – how can we make software development more productive to reduce costs?

There are lots of things our industry has done over the preceding decades to tackle this problem:

  • Developed working methodologies to build repeatable practices – Waterfall, Unified Process, Agile, XP, etc.
  • Created design patterns to solve common problems – MVC, SOLID, GoF, and many others
  • Leveraged lower cost resources through offshoring

None of these have been a panacea.  Look at any enterprise and you’ll find competing for SDLC methodologies, loose adherence to design practices, and the common efficiency roadblocks due to offshoring.  While these efforts have been helpful in managing cost, it is very difficult to measure the effect they have really had.

MEASURING PRODUCTIVITY

What to do, then?  More than anything, the focus of productivity has to start with the most human element of all – the individual developer herself.  The focus has to be on how to increase the speed that a developer can turn a designed solution into working code with as few errors as possible.

Anyone who has been in the software industry knows there are broad ranges in developers’ productivity.   It depends on the individual’s ability to understand programming theory, their educational background, years of experience, a personal situation at the time, how much Fortnite they play, etc.

Why is this important?  Quite simply, time is money.  The longer it takes a developer to code a solution, the more it costs.  In today’s environment of nearly full employment, demand for software developers has never been higher, which brings a lot of varied talent into the picture to meet the demand.  Anyone who has hired a developer knows the productivity gap I’m talking about – hiring is an expensive proposition and no matter how much interviewing you do, and you’re never sure what sort of productivity you’ll get until that person gets to work.

Why is measuring productivity so hard?  Because a good measurement involves an apples-to-apples comparison between developers, yet they will almost never complete the same task to produce the same set of code.  Since every development task is different, we cannot establish a baseline for how long it SHOULD take to perform a task versus how long it WILL take a specific developer.  Throw in each person’s differing levels of experience, education, and general abilities with the discipline, and…you get the picture.

Does that mean we’re stuck with technical interviews, coding tests, and answered prayers to create a team of highly productive software engineers?  Not quite.  Agile practices give us an opportunity to solve the biggest challenge in measuring developer productivity – creating a baseline to measure the variance between the estimated and actual time to perform a coding task.

HOW IT WORKS

Every ALM tool – Jira, or otherwise – allows a Scrum team to create story sub-tasks during their planning sessions.  Usually, a developer assigned to a sub-task has an opportunity to estimate the time it should take to complete that task, measured in hours.  During the sprint, developers can then track the actual hours spent so the team can evaluate the variance between estimated and actual hours.

This variance isn’t particularly helpful as a productivity metric because the individual developer may be much faster or slower than the average, and their estimations likely reflect this bias.

The solution to this problem is to have all the developers on the Scrum team estimate each subtask duration, creating a proxy baseline and a more reasonable expectation of the task’s duration.  Then, once a task is assigned to the individual developer, the variance calculations can start to have some meaning.

What meaning are we to glean from this variance? When looking at large sets of variances (hundreds or thousands of tasks over multiple projects), we can observe patterns in individual developers’ productivity.  If they consistently take longer to complete a task than the established baseline, we can look more deeply at the data to find root causes and potential remediations.  Is there a skills mismatch, allocation mismatch, or something else?  Does the developer need more pair programming or training in specific areas?

If a developer consistently performs tasks in less time than the estimations, we have hard metrics to reward that individual and encourage continued productivity.  We can also look at the data to see how we might have other developers emulate good behaviors from these high performers.

IMPLICATIONS

I know I know – I can hear the complaints now.  A small group of 2-4 developers on a Scrum team estimating a task cannot be used as a valid baseline, you say.  It’s a fair point, but any leftover estimation bias from a small sample size of developers would be offset by the volume of variance data we would collect.  As a manager, I care more about the variance trends and less about the exactness of anyone variance calculation.

But wait, you say.  All of this supposes a developer will be truthful in reporting their actual duration on a task.  People lie to themselves and others all the time (just read “Everybody Lies” by Seth Stephens-Davidowitz) – if a developer knows they’ll be measured on variance, they’ll manipulate their actuals to improve their perceived productivity.

Again, fair point, but there is a self-policing solution to this problem.  An employee is generally expected to work 8 hours a day.  If a developer consistently under-reports their actual durations on a task, it would appear they were consistently working less than they should be.

Say a developer is assigned two 4-hour tasks, and he takes 1 day to complete both but only reports 2 hours of actual duration for each task.  We would see a report that shows him only working 4 hours that day.  With enough data points, we could easily spot a trend of under-reporting and take corrective action.

CONCLUSION

Why is all of this important?  As individuals, not just employees, we should all strive to improve ourselves every day.  That’s how society is supposed to work – we do things, we make mistakes, we learn from them and we grow in the process.  But we can’t improve what we can’t measure.  The method I describe is very easy to implement, as long as your team is following the Scrum ceremonies.  With simple metrics and trend analysis, maybe we can finally solve a difficult problem and leave ourselves more time to knock a few more things of that ever-growing to-do list.

Chad Hahn
Author Details
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.
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Chad Hahn
Optimity Advisors, Inc.
Chad Hahn is a partner overseeing the digital & technology practice at Optimity Advisors. He is an entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in strategy, business development, operations, and technology, and has started and sold two successful service businesses. He has a strong background in software engineering and enterprise architecture, with deep expertise in both traditional and emerging technologies.