This website, and the associated book, are dedicated to every woman who’s ever broken through a barrier, violated a taboo, or overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to achieve what seemed impossible, but was merely difficult . . . without even breaking a nail, or whining about it if she did.
For 6 years I ran the largest physical conference for women in computing in the world called the Grace Hopper Celebration in the US and I was the conference founder for the Grace Hopper conference in India. I was often asked by thousands of technical women all over the world – places like Raleigh, Pune, and Kaula Lumpur – what I could do for them – how could I give them access to this conference and the community if they could not attend this annual event. I never had a good answer for them unless they could fly to the conference, take the time off of work, and pay the expensive travel and conference fees. It was very frustrating. About 4000 women attend Grace Hopper each year but many more thousands can’t get there.
Now there is a means to provide access, visibility and connection no matter where a technical woman lives on this planet.
Last year a new organization was launched, Global Tech Women, whose mission is to create a global network of connected, inspired and self-actualized technical women. My friend and former colleague, Jerri Barrett has joined Global Tech Women as our CMO and together we are reaching out to women around the world to create a global network of technical women, partners and organizations who share this vision.
We are holding a global virtual conference on International Women’s Day – March 8 2013 called Voices. We are starting in New Zealand at 10am and working our way around the world holding sessions from women in every region to talk about technology, topics of interest to the technical women’s community and to offer ideas and best practices on a regional, national and international level on how we can encourage more women in technology and inspire the women in this community.
Since this is a new conference we are all working together with friends, partners and sponsors to find regional, national and international representatives who can discuss the latest technologies, articulate the challenges of being a technical woman, what has been done to resolve barriers, and who is involved in these conversations. We are asking women around the world to attend and to add their voice to the conversation making us all accessible and visible.
I am asking for your support, to help build a conference and a community for all of us, anywhere. How can you help? Register for the conference, invite your friends, post Voices on social media, celebrate International Women’s Day with us and be part of the direction for this organization. Make it your own.
This is an opportunity for every woman in technology, with your support, to have access to relevant information, which in many parts of the world is difficult, providing community, inspiration and to create possibilities for connection and collaboration.
This is just the beginning of something entirely new.
I am excited about the possibilities and I hope you are too. Will you help?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts,
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Deanna Kosaraju started Global Tech Women because she believes no matter what corner of the globe you live, you deserve access to the latest technical information, inspiration and local and global support to help you achieve your definition of success both personally and professionally. Prior to starting this new initiative Deanna was the Vice President of Programs at the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology (ABI). Deanna ran ABIs flagship program, the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing North America from 2006 through November 2011 and took the Anita Borg Institute internationally as founder of a technical women’s community and Grace Hopper Celebration Conference for Women in Computing in India.
I am currently trying to take a client to small claims court. This is much more complicated than I envisioned. And the outcome is uncertain. But let me begin at the start, so you can avoid my mistakes.
The Honeymoon Phase
Like probably most new business owners, I entered into my marketing consulting practice with trust and naiveté.
There are a lot of administrative things to figure out: how much to charge a client, legal contracts, templates, billing etc. And then there is also the part where you define your mission and, in my case, place much faith in the human race, because you believe in integrity and honesty.
I was very lucky with my first few clients who I all knew personally before I started working with them. They all paid on time.
Then a client came as a referral from an old colleague. The rule of thumb is that referrals from people you know are good referrals. But my gut feeling was to turn the project down, as I had little rapport with the client, but I told myself that I had to build my business and could not afford to say no.
What they did not tell you at St. Mary’s Business School….
I don’t want to disclose any details of my work with this client other than that I got positive feedback along the way and we both considered the project outcome a success. The final words were “the check is in the mail”.
After the check did not arrive, an agonizing period started where the client admitted to be unable to pay, asking me to put him on a payment plan. It was very upsetting.
My wake up call came after talking to my accountant and self-employed friends: it turned out that almost everybody I knew had lost money to non-paying clients (this was a very long trail on Facebook). Trying to collect the money can take so much time, effort, and money – and there are no guarantees for success- that many people just write the owed money off. Ouch!
After receiving this feedback, I accepted the client’s payment plan and received the first payment; already a few days late. That was the last payment I received.
Unfortunately, after reminding the delinquent client one more time, I see no other avenue but to go to small claims court:
- If I can figure out where to file the claim (if I get it wrong, case is dismissed)
- If I can serve the defendant the court notice (somebody else but me has to do this in person and I have to pay; it means one has to track down the person)
- If I win the case
- If I can actually collect my money (after I win)
The lesson I have learned is to always ask for enough money up front to cover myself until “pay day”.
What I mean by that is, cover yourself (at a minimum) up to the time your first payment is due. Example: you bill every 30 days and your client has 30 days to pay you. Ask for enough money in advance to cover you for 60 days of work. If the check does not arrive on day 60, you can stop the project but haven’t made a loss. Of course, they could not pay you in the future but at this point, you have at least established some trust.
Having said that, it seems common to ask for anything from a minimum of 20% to 40% (sometimes even more) up front, especially if you charge on a project basis.
If the client refuses: walk way!
To be continued…
ABOUT the AUTHOR: Natascha Thomson is the Owner & Founder of MarketingXLerator – a B2B Social Media Marketing Consultancy – with a focus on using social media to connect people for business impact. She is also a co-author of the book 42 Rules for B2B Social Media Marketing.