The top thing that made all the difference in 2015 (and a few to make 2016 count)

As I look back into 2015 I think a couple of things made all the difference for me and resulted in a great year all together. But one stands above all else.

Putting myself more out there

I clearly remember walking down from my house to a place where I sometimes have breakfast. As I walked I was thinking what I could do more to grow our business. Once I entered the coffee place I saw one of the potential clients we had been discussing a project recently but which we hadn’t heard back since (talk about serendipity!).

At the time I was torn between sitting with him or just ignore the fact he was there, after all one may like to have his breakfast alone (and alone he was).

After much hesitation I walked over and asked “mind if I sit?” .

— “Sure, you’re welcome to.”

We started talking and guess what, a few days later we had closed one of our biggest projects this year.

This serves to remind me that above all business is still about people and creating personal connections.

Here are a few things we can do to put ourselves more out there:

Public speaking

It always feels a bit daunting to give a talk. What are you going to talk about? What possibly could you have to contribute? What if you make a fool of yourself? 
I’m no public speaker for sure but I have stood in a couple of occasions in front of a few people, from LAN parties and barcamps to professional academic conferences. Maybe it’s because I come from a technical background but once I start to think about something I could talk about I find myself debating some advanced technological thing where I could show off. It’s lame but it’s true.. we all search for peer recognition. 
However, if I look back at talks that had a positive impact with me, the speaker didn’t present anything new! It was all about the message he had to convey and more important, the way he opened up, told a personal story or laid out the pieces to convey a powerful message in the end. 
So if this year you want to grow personally, make new connections and quite possibly your business try volunteering to speak in one of the many events (and seek to inspire!).

Deliver on your (current) promises

It seems counter intuitive to some but one of the best ways to make yourself known is to make a good impression in the things you are already involved with, e.g. your projects, associations, business ventures or community. This year I saw myself involved in 1–2 projects that were really challenging. One of them is co-funded with support from the EU and spans across five different countries and teams (France, UK, Croatia, Portugal and Spain). You can imagine how difficult it is just to keep up with everything that is going on. The other one is still in its beginnings but is so ambitious I’ll have to shut down the doors of my company and put up a sign “now accepting work in 2017” if it moves forward. In both cases I try to separate the challenges we have on the project from the personal connections I’ve established with the team and try my best to contribute as much as I can and be of value. Especially in times of uncertainty and some despair don’t forget to keep the communication flowing and touch base with the rest of the team. Like Fred Wilson would say: “deliver on your promises”. If you do you’ll find yourself creating a positive reference with your peers and attracting more good things.

Blogging

I wish I had blogged more this past year. That way I could go back one year in my blog and see what I was doing and thinking. More than that I would probably had reached more people and maybe even inspired one or two :-)
But I haven’t. So I can’t say. It’s something I want to resume and I hope I can bring more of my writings into the web. 
I can only invite you to do the same. 
Nothing will bring more clarity to your thoughts that writing them down and the accountability that comes from sharing your thoughts with the world is science proven .

In 2016 you have a choice: either keep holding yourself back or really believe in yourself, share your passions and aspire to growth. The choice is up to you but one thing is for sure: there won’t be another 2016 a year from now.