Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Contracting – Your best clients are your current clients…

and your old clients too.

Before I started my contracting business five years ago I realised the importance of selling and how it would be key to the success of my business, it’s what some of the consulting books call ‘keeping the pipeline flowing’ if you read the contracting and consulting books they will advise you to spend a portion of your time bringing in new business, making sure that you have enough paying work to keep the wolfs from your door. If you are considering starting your own contracting or consulting business this is invaluable advice as a lack of paying clients is not good for business.

I have also read some sales books too, and if you are contracting /consulting or considering it as a future option I recommend that you read some of these books to. Sales books are different from consulting books and please don’t think of these books as a magic answer, they are not, the good books will give you some good advice and tips, that after reading you will probably think is just common sense, but the advice is worth thinking about.

I have read a few of these sales orientated books, one I found quite useful was  The Sales Bible: The Ultimate Sales ResourceThis book is quite old now I think it was published in 2003 and there are others out there that no doubt will give you similar advice, if you have a Sales book that you recommend please do let me know what it is by leaving a comment

In terms of Sales for a contracting and consulting business I think the following points are key in ‘making a sale’

  • Realise that your client has problem – understand what that problem is
  • Be able to communicate to your potential client that you have the skills needed to solve the problem for them
  • It’s easier to make a sale to someone you have done business with before   compared to a brand new client.
  • Building a good network can be invaluable if you are in the selling business

So you have to understand the problem, know how to solve the problem and know a whole bunch of people who have problems that you can help solve. There is nothing awfully difficult to it on paper.

What I have got out of this is it can be easier to sell to your existing clients, or possibly clients you have worked for previously than it is to bring in brand new business. You do need enough existing clients to be able to do this. You will need to bring in new business especially when starting out and also when you have been in business  for a while, fresh new clients are always good but it can be much easier for you to make sales to clients that you have sold to previously.

I have been lucky I have had repeat business from all of my existing clients and I have been fortunate that I have been able to expand my new clients too. You just need to get the balance right.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Washington DC in the Summertime

As I mentioned in my post last week I was fortunate enough to visit Washington DC a week or so back. The main purpose of the visit was business but Mrs Ellis came with me and after the work was done we had a little time to see some of the sites before returning home.

My business commitments kept us in Reston, a suburb of DC,  for most of the week but on the weekend we travelled down to downtown DC and we got to see some of the sights

The UK summer has lived up to its reputation and when flew out of Heathrow it was raining and the temperature was around 14C. When we landed in Dulles we found glorious sunshine and temperatures of 30C plus. This was to remain all week.

We arrived in downtown DC Saturday morning we had an early check-in so we were able to drop our bags in the room and head out for the day. We stayed at the JW Marriott on Pennsylvania Avenue or America’s Main Street. This was a pretty cool location with lots of things to see close by, we stepped out of the hotel and after a short walk up 14th street you were greeted with this view

The Monument

We started out walking up the Mall toward the capitol building  with a visit to National Gallery. I must state here I’m not an art buff or indeed know don’t know much about art at all but even I recognised many of the paintings hanging in this gallery and you couldn’t fail to be impressed.

There was paints by Claude Monet

Claude MonetClaude Monet

Paul Cezanne

Paul CezannePaul Cezanne

Vincent Van Gogh’s self portrait

photo (8)

And works from other many many artists.

We took in several of the museums that you kind find on the Mall too including the Air and Space museum the Museum of Native Americans and the Natural History Museum. All were very impressive.

We also had time to check out the White House. As I was stood there taking the photo you can see below, a little lad, must have been about 9-10 years turned to his mother and said, “Mommy, he [President Obama] must be home, the lights are on.” Well it made me laugh, maybe you had to be there

We also got to visit Arlington Cemetery, what a special place that is. Pretty amazing.

 

photo (11)photo (10)

photo (12)

All in all we had a great trip. There is a decent chance I’ll be visiting Washington DC again this year, probably later in the autumn I don’t think I’ll have time to see much on that trip but we’ll see.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

@LearningTree: 2108 SQL Server 2012 Database Administration

This past week my international adventures have continued. As some of you know, for the past couple of years, I have been teaching courses in Learning Tree’s SQL Server curriculum and I have also been lucky enough to be involved in some of the SQL Server curriculum course development process. I am the course author for 2105 SQL Server 2012 DBA upgrade course and I am also author of another course that is currently in development but I’m going to keep under wraps, at least for the time being.

Learning Tree International is just that, an international training company, and its courses and classes get taught over the world. Courses are both written and delivered by Learning Tree instructors who have real world, extensive, experience working with their subject matter. I had been asked by the people at Learning Tree if I would teach a new course, 2108 SQL Server 2012 Database Administration: Hands On in July in the UK. . This is a course that has been written by Sharon Dooley. Sharon has been a Learning Tree instructor and course author for almost 20 years and had many more years’ experience working in the IT industry. Sharon is also a former SQL Server MVP and is very active in PASS and is the virtual chapter leader for the Database Administration. Sharon has been the course author for Learning Tree’s SQL Server Database Administration course since SQL Server 6.5. In order to teach the course in the UK I was asked to visit Reston, Virginia (a suburb of Washington DC) to attend Sharon’s beta delivery of the 2108 course. This ‘beta’ event is the first time the class will be delivered to a live audience and changes and revisions will be made following it. This allowed me to attend the after class meeting where the author Sharon and her technical editor Bobby Townsend along with the Learning Tree product development manager sat down and discussed the feedback received from students and decide what revisions would improve the course going forward.

This was great for me, I got to see Sharon in action teaching her class, Sharon is a really greatLearning Tree International instructor and 2108, SQL Server 2012 Database Administration: Hands-on, is a really great class for those people who are employed as a DBA and need training in the aspects of the DBA job function. A DBA can wear many hats and 2108 SQL Server Database Administration covers many of those tasks. You will learn

  • Administer SQL Server 2012 with SQL Server Management Studio and Transact-SQL
  • Employ proven techniques to upgrade databases from earlier SQL Server versions
  • Ensure tight SQL Server security with logins, roles, users and permissions
  • Develop backup strategies, perform backups and recover from disasters
  • Leverage SQL Server Agent to automate administrative tasks and generate alerts
  • Isolate and repair fragmentation and database corruption

It was a really great week, and I thoroughly enjoyed being involved in the final stages of this course’s development. If you are a DBA or you are going to be a SQL Server DBA who needs training in the core DBA skills then this course is definitely for you. Depending on your location you can find the course schedule at the following locations

UK 

USA

Canada

Remember, no matter where you are based, you can attend most of Learning Tree’s courses using Learning Tree AnyWare which allows you to be part of the interactive classroom environment from your home or office.So why not join me for the July event in London

Friday, 8 June 2012

Twitter Handle Change

I have been thinking about this for a while now, but I have decided to change my twitter handle. I don’t think this will affect my existing followers, so I think it can be changed without too much hassle so I have changed it.

When I first signed up to twitter several years ago, I picked a name that reflected me and  what I intended to to tweet about overtime though, even though I still tweet about roughly the same topics the name didn’t necessarily give me any scope or flexibility, so I have changed it.

You can now find me @gethyn_ellis If you follow me already you don’t need to do anything and if you are intending on following along, thank you, please use the my new handle.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Ottawa In the Summer Time

I wrote a post earlier this week telling you all about my trip to Ottawa last week, during my trip i delivered Learning Tree course 2105 SQL Server 2012 DBA Skill Upgrade. I also got to spend the weekend following the course in Ottawa. Taking in some of the sites and also checking out a few patios in Byward Market

 Smile

I was staying in Lord Elgin Hotel on Elgin street which is pretty much slap bang in the middle of downtown Ottawa. I had suffered a little with jet lag and I never really got into a proper sleeping routine so at the end of class on Friday I simply had dinner and a couple of drinks and had another early night.

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning though and I had a chat with the guys on the bell counter at the Elgin about what to do and visit. I was advised that the bars didn’t open until 11am so I couldn’t get a beer yet!!! Not sure if they were trying to tell me something but there were some cool things to see. The Parliament of Canada was only a couple of blocks away and with  the Queens Diamond Jubilee weekend fast approaching I was keen to go and see what the Canadians were going to do to celebrate.

I walked up the street towards parliament passing the war memorial on my way parliament

War Memorial

Just up the street as you turn a corner you are presented with the Canadian parliament building, which is a pretty spectacular building

Parliament  of Canada

I was struck just how similar it looks to the Houses Of Parliament in the UK. Maybe the Peace tower helps make this look similar but you can actually walk right up to the front door if you want. They actually put on free tours of the Parliament building and you can go inside for a look. So I did. I had to pass the Queen on horse back to go and collect my ticket

The Queen

Inside it also looks very similar to the UK Parliament. The Canadian parliament has a House of Commons just like the UK parliament and a Senate which is similar to the House of Lords (in both colour styling and in the fact that neither senators in Canada or Lords in the UK are elected members)  but with 308 MPs and 101 Senators they are fewer in number than the UK equivalent.

The House of CommonsThe Senate

The cool thing with this building is you can actually take an elevator to the top of the Peace tower, this is Canada’s first inclined elevator, with a 9% incline. The lift has a window and you can see the wall getting closer and closer to you as you go up. From the top you can see both Quebec and Ontario

quebec Ottawa

I finished my Saturday with walk up Sussex Street I had a meal in a pub called the Heart and Crown in Byward Market. There is a lot of bars pubs and restaurants in Byward Market so many it would have been impossible for me to visit them all on the same day

 Smile

I was up early again on Sunday morning, I flew home Sunday but my flight wasn’t until late in the evening. The weekend was also Ottawa’s famous marathon race weekend. Saturday night saw the 5K and 10K events take place and Sunday was the start of the Marathon. This is the runners the start. These guys still have 26+ miles to go it was nice and earlier 6.55am local time so the heat and humidity had not yet kicked in.

Marathon

 

All in all I really enjoyed my visit to Canada’s capital city.