Month Four on the Job: Spokesperson

Today marks the four-month mark of my job change at Microsoft.  My focus over the last month has been on establishing myself as a spokesperson for the products I look after: ASP.NET, ASP.NET codename “Atlas” and Visual Web Developer.

My ramp-up as a spokesperson started just before the MIX conference, on March 16, 2006, with Spokesperson Training courtesy of Microsoft’s public relations firm, Waggener Edstrom.  The day following my training I did a series of press pre-briefings via telephone to convey the messages and announcements journalists could expect regarding “Atlas” on the coming Monday, the first day of MIX.  Those pre-briefings resulted in the series of articles which I wrote about here and here.

Since MIX, I have started traveling the countryside talking about our products with our developer community.  This has included presenting breakout sessions at the ASP.NET Connections conference in Orlando and presenting technology overviews to the Orlando .NET User Group and the Inland Empire .NET User Group (in San Bernardino).

I also participated in my first podcast at MIX and it was recently posted on the ASP.NET Podcast site.  (You can spend an hour of your life listening to a colleague and me talk about tools for web developers…yay!)

One last but hugely important aspect of being a product spokesperson is the Executive Briefing presentations I get asked to do about once per month for key Microsoft customers and partners.  These customers/partners (which include corporations, academic institutions and government/military entities) and their Microsoft-assigned field representatives, come to Microsoft’s corporate campus for 2-4 days to get briefed on how our current and planned product portfolio can help their business operations.  It is very different discussing our products with developers than discussing them with business decision makers (e.g., CIO, CTO, VP of Engineering, VP of Operations, etc.)  Coming from a developer background, I have to be mindful of how low-level I get and resist the urge to spend most my time with these high-ranking representatives writing code. :nerd:

The press/analyst briefings, conferences, user groups, podcasts and executive briefing presentations have each allowed me to build and hone a different set of skills while leveraging my experiences from the engineering side of the product development process.  After all I have been exposed to these past four months, I am curious to see what new activities and opportunities come my way in the coming months.