Bring the influencers to the vendor
This idea of a blogpost “thanking Stephen Foskett” has been wandering in my mind for a while but let me save that for later. But to Stephen’s concept, he has found a way to bring a dozen influencers, from around the world and in a specific technology – networking, wireless, virtualization, storage, … – around a table and giving the vendors some tech time with them. The live streaming is off course the big bonus for both the people at home as the vendor! The conversation is live wth 12 people but you always have a tech audience of 100+ live. No noise (except maybe for Howard) and all the rest is content.
What is the actual result for a vendor? I’ll use myself as an example: from the 9 vendors that were included in Storage Field Day 1, there are 6 that regularly get mentioned in my blogposts or about who I wrote an entire technical article. Actually ALL of the storage vendors got their share as the other 3 were Brocade, Quest and Dell. The first two had no real storage value for me and I already did a lot on Dell which makes it not really a result of #TFD. Let me use my first article as an example: I wrote a blogpost on Kaminario less than 1 week after the TechFieldDay event and it included 3 parts: background, architecture, takeaways. In the last part lies one of the added values of bringing in the influencers!
One of the key differences between a blogger and a journalist (oh God, we are going to generalize here) is that journalists copy your press release without a real added value. Maybe your local PR company helped you with a briefing over the phone but that still won’t bring it any further than copying your message. The true difference with bloggers is that they share their own insights in your message. There is your added value. That alone makes it worth bringing these guys in. You should hear sometimes what happens in the HP Coffeetalks at Discover 😀
Bring the vendors to the influencer
Here comes the “thank you Stephen” part but I will generalise it to others out there. I have for example previously been invited to DELL Storage Forum and HP Discover. In all these occasions our travel, lodging and parts of our food and beverages are “taken care off“. Now some of you might call that bribery, I can assure you that in none of all these occasions anyone ever asked me literally to write something. But by bringing them to me they at least got my attention and some day I’ll probably want to share my thoughts.
What is important now is that without these efforts from the vendors I would never have been there and by extension not being where I am today either. I don’t have that money and I never had a boss that would have paid for it. Even worse; a lot of us tech bloggers, have to take (unpaid) PTO to get to these events. I know I did. But all these events together helped me to become an influencer. If it wasn’t for these events, I would never have had this close team of smartest and brightest in the community together for 5 days full time. Spending a few hours a day in taxi’s or limo’s with people like Howard Marks, Ray Lucchesi, Robin Harris, Chris Evans, Nigel Poulton, … is irreplaceable. We call, we tweet, we DM, we mail, … news on the market gets shared and provoking thoughts on new product releases get our shared attention.
So thank you HP, thank you DELL and thank you to all TechFieldDay sponsors as all of you together are partially paying for my experience out there and helping me grow in this industry! The more influencers we can grow, the better the feedback on products we will get in the future. I hope I can add many more companies in this list going forward. For that matter I should actually thank also Cisco and VMware that were so kind to give me a conference pass for Cisco Live and VMworld US as I suddenly had no company support.
Why am I writing this? Well, I get to go to Interop New York in three weeks courtesy to the TechFieldDay roundtable sponsors who I will disclose later when we are closer to the event. Interop is an event I otherwise would never have been able to do as an EMEA guy if it wasn’t for this support.