Looking back and moving forward

2013 was the first full year of existence for Pixalytics, and I’m pleased to say we’ve been kept busy. So busy in fact, that some of the things we planned to do, we didn’t manage – like our weekly blog! We started off well in the summer, but the closer the end of the year came the more infrequent become the blog. We know the key to blogging is regularity and consistency, so we intend to do better in 2014. Right here, right now, we publically commit to issuing a blog every Wednesday recording our thoughts, and the journey of the business over the coming year.

The last year has been interesting and alongside working, I’ve attended a lot of great conferences, with RSPSoc Annual Conference followed by ESA Living Symposium being particular highlights! As a scientist I recognise it’s vital to meet the community to show what you’re developing, and see the new research everyone else is working on. I used to call this networking, but after our blog discussed the usefulness of meeting people you already know; I should probably come up with a new phrase – how about continuing professional development? What do you think about attending conferences – work, research, networking, professional development or something else?
At July’s UK Space Conference in Glasgow I even managed to get Andy to come along and have the full delegate experience (First Small Step in Space and Space Can Help). I’ve found myself increasingly attended webinars this year, and ResearchGate took off as one of several research focused online networking platforms. Although, this won’t stop me attending conferences in person … particularly looking forward to Ocean Sciences in Hawaii, where I’ve offered to be a mentor, and Ocean Optics in Portland, Maine this year.

It was also a year of goodbyes and new beginnings. I finished my 3-year term of Chairman of RSPSoc (the UK’s learned society focusing on remote sensing and photogrammetry) which I thoroughly enjoyed, and found it really positive that despite everyone’s hectic schedule, people are still willing to volunteer. However, to ensure I didn’t get any free time I became Vice-Chairman of the British Association of Remote Sensing Companies (BARSC) and am looking forward to the exciting year ahead.

The new year has started positively with great publicity about the UK’s Space Industry with Chancellor George Osborne indicating he wants the sector to triple in size within 20 years. This builds on the Space Innovation and Growth Strategy 2014-30 that was previewed in July and released in September. Our challenge for 2014 is to ensure that Pixalytics plays it’s part in this growth, and we hope you’ll enjoy following our progress. Until next Wednesday … We hope ….

When is networking, not networking?

I was talking to a group of writers this week about pretending you’re writing. A pretence everyone recognised was that reading how-to-write books equated to writing. It does not! The books may be interesting, give you tips or make you think about writing techniques in a new way, but it isn’t writing. To do that, you need to write!

It got me thinking about my recent blog on Maslow for the Micro Business, where I noted the importance of networking for developing and growing your business. I know you’re thinking that attending meetings, industry events, conferences and social events are part of any business owner’s life, and it’s all networking right?

Networking is about building relationships between businesses that could benefit both parties, or simply put it’s about developing potential new clients or suppliers. So are all events networking? They are certainly all networking opportunities. However many micro businesses operate in niche markets, like us in remote sensing earth observation. You need to be honest with yourself when you attend an event, and consider who in the room is a potential new client or supplier? Is anybody?

Think about the events you attend, are they true networking opportunities? You may talk about business at these events, you may talk about your business and you may even give out the odd business card, but if no-one has the potential to be a client or supplier, then don’t pretend to yourself that you’re networking.

Professional development, scientific updates, discussion groups, learning sets or catching up with business friends are all useful and valid ways to spend time as a micro business owner. In some cases you’ll learn new skills or get new ideas, but they aren’t networking. Of course don’t turn your networking head off altogether as there is always the exception to the rule, where the person you are talking with has a next door neighbour, brother, sister–in-law or friend in your field.

However these happy occurrences are the exception to the rule. If you want to develop new clients or suppliers, you need to go to the events that they go to; not expect them to come to the events you go to.

Analyse your time outside of business delivery. Are you going to real networking opportunities? If the answer is no, then ask yourself if you are going to the right events?

Find the right events, go to them and talk to your potential clients and suppliers, get their details and follow up with them after the event. In essence, don’t pretend that you’re networking, go and network.