Learnings from an cancelled joint webinar with an Ex-colleague
Few weeks back, I was excited when I came across the video of Amazon Astro. Though it is not production ready, it triggered my imagination and product designer avatar. I was thinking of possible challenges they would have experienced and possible ways to solve it. I needed a product designer who has expertise in IoT and possibly robotics to discuss about the same.
I was in good touch with my ex-colleague. At the time of writing, he is still with the old employer. We decided to host a small webinar about the engineering challenges and we had discussed the agenda, discussion points etc. The reason why we decided to the webinar is for two reasons
a. Discuss our thought process, tell to other interested folks and get their viewpoints in webinar as well. So more like a learning exercise and teaching and learning at same time.
b. Personal brand building and content creation. An example to showcase our thought leadership and approach in IoT and hardware product development.
4 days before the webinar, my friend told that he could not participate in the webinar and give a talk as the employer cited conflict of interest and raised concerns(indirectly threatened him). It came as a shock as I knew that the company was not working on any products similar to Astro or working with them as a vendor or sub-contractor. This was nothing but a bullying tactic or an attempt to stop knowledge sharing or an attempt to stop personal branding and growth of its employer and ex-employer.
As a risk mitigation strategy, I reached out to other product designers as well, but due to last minute notice many could not make them available as a primary speaker. In the hindsight, I realized few lessons which everybody organizing webinar or talks should make a note of. Though it is common for all event management and planning, beginners should be more aware of these issues and best practices
I know it is a catch 22 situation. You get connections when you deliver content and you also need connections to deliver content (you cannot be the author always). Before beginning to be a host or start organizing joint webinars or discussions, develop a niche for yourself. This way the participants and their employers know that the platform is big and they get to benefit more.
Not all session need to be advertised
The reason the issue came is because I publicized about the event in LinkedIn. I should have just had a discussion, recorded it and uploaded the video to YouTube. Later publicized the video alone. While this can also cause concerns to employer, it is much safer because their claims can be refuted with content proofs. If the video has got lot of traction, it will also help the company (provided the participant mentions about the company name where they are working while giving an intro).
Develop Contacts on Complementary skills
In my case, though I got contacts in product design areas, I have never had a conversation with them earlier. The first time I messaged them, it was a for a help (to be a participant in sessions). This obviously might not have given a good feeling.
Choose your employers wisely
My ex-employer lived in a dream world and sounded fake and un-professional on most interaction. Though I worked 4+ years with them, I realized their un-professionalism only in last 1 year when I got an opportunity to work with management team .Better not to be associated with those employers.
Rotate your contributors
When you have a lot of contacts and contributors, always give a choice to different speakers and contacts (irrespective of their public profile and personal brand). With that, you always give a chance to others, be in touch with them and can ask them for any help.