Since receiving my exceptional talent endorsement by Tech nation and UK Global Talent visa in digital and technology #TechNationVisa, I have been asked how I started my journey and how I gathered enough evidence to prove to Tech Nation Assessors that I was “exceptionally talented”. While it is difficult to see myself as exceptionally talented, I’d like to share the things I did and now advise applicants on how to show impact to their tech community, leadership in their expert field and recognition outside of their immediate occupation.
1. Write engaging content
Write engaging content in your field of expertise and publish them on reputable tech publications online, tech community network websites and online tech start up publications. This needs to be distinguished between what you are paid to do vs what you volunteer to do.
While publishing on Linkedin is a way to show your expertise as well as your website or on medium, Tech Nation guidelines on the Stage 1 Global Talent Visa endorsement application have provided that:
“evidence of media recognition should include details about the publication and target audience. LinkedIn is not considered sufficient as a trade publication. Evidence of recognition provided by a colleague, friend or manager is not sufficient for meeting these criteria”.
The reason is because you have control over what is published on your website, Linkedin and medium. However, if you go through other media publications, it goes through a third party who in effect, considers you to be a leader and expert in your field. They will determine whether or not your content is suitable for their audience.
2. Host and Organise tech events
While attending tech events regularly shows that you are engaging in the tech community, how about hosting or organising one yourself either in person or online that showcases your expertise in bringing your network together, sharing your expertise and that your area of expertise is highly valued by the tech community? If you can’t host or organise one, find the community that best aligns with your values and ask the organiser if you can be part of the organising committee. Hackathons, meetups, university events are a great way to engage with the community.
3. Speak at tech events
Speaking in person or online at community, national or international tech events about your your field of expertise is a great way to show your expertise. Community tech events are a great way to start your public speaking journey. Ask someone to take photos of you speaking to an audience, share it across social media, write a blog about your experience at the event and share key points, images of slides post event and publish your blog on the organiser’s website. There is a difference between speaking at an event that is part of your job vs speaking at an event that shows your expertise beyond your day to day job. Here are some of my speaking engagements that I was invited to and I also hosted and organised some of these events! While these are physical events, there is nothing to say you can’t host online events or webinars to share your knowledge and expertise.
4. Obtain written testimonials
Obtaining written testimonials for any public facing work or community tech events you organise or are a part of is also a great way to show how you impact the tech sector. Seeking them through Linkedin is the easiest way to obtain recommendations or asking the organiser or delegates to write a letter of support about the impact you made shows your value, expertise and contribution to the tech sector. Testimonials shows that you are credible, trustworthy and knowledgeable in the field that the testimony is about.
5. Be active on social media.
Linkedin and Twitter are very powerful tools of engaging with your audience. Post images and provide any comments, relevant pieces of advice, key messages or engaging content for your audience. Tag people, use hashtags and use hyperlinks!
6. Become a STEM Ambassador
STEM Ambassadors are volunteers from a wide range of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related jobs and disciplines across the UK. They offer their time and enthusiasm to help bring STEM subjects to life and demonstrate the value of them in life and careers. Here is a list of STEM based activities and workshops that I conducted within my community.
7. Seek a mentor
My best advice is to seek a mentor or many mentors in your relevant field who can provide guidance on your journey to becoming a digital and tech influencer. Use your networks, your work colleagues or your senior managers, ask friends who you think you could ask to become your mentor. Be clear about who and what your mentor’s role should be and be mindful of their time. You should also think about what you can provide to your mentor also because mentoring can be a 2 way relationship.
8. Share your knowledge
It’s important to share your knowledge with your peers, the tech community and those on the same journey as you. Sharing knowledge can also be in the form of online community forums where you can show your activity and engagement. This is why Tech Nation have accepted GitHub accounts that contains lines of code clearly showing your continuing contribution.
9. Community tech events vs corporate tech events
There are two very different types of tech events which you can be involved with. Community start up events are often free events in the evening through meetup or eventbrite so this is a way to come out of the corporate environment and into the start up environment. I encourage everyone to attend at least 3 start up community tech events because the amount of networking and fantastic ideas come from the grassroots tech community. Pizza is almost always served too. Online events are just as useful to attend and counts towards learning and meeting people – depending on the organiser and whether they arrange online break out rooms, there are numerous opportunities to be creative in the online world.
10. Just start.
It doesn’t matter that you aren’t an expert yet. This is the whole point of becoming an expert, making an impact and documenting your journey as you learn. Teaching and sharing your knowledge is the most rewarding part of being an exceptionally talented person in digital and tech. And it’s all about the impact you are making to the UK tech sector or your own tech sector that will set you aside from the rest of the applicants who are also applying for the golden ticket to live and work in the UK.