This article is by Heather Harris and originally appeared on the Alteryx Nation Blog here: https://community.alteryx.com/t5/Alter-Nation-Blog/Use-Your-Alteryx-Badassery-to-Grow-Your-Career-and-Brand/ba-p/505382
When we searched for job postings worldwide that mention “Alteryx” in the job posting. LinkedIn quickly returned 5,564 job postings! And, only 158 of those postings were for jobs with Alteryx itself. One large financial consulting company had over 900 jobs posted alone—and all had been posted in the last month. Next, I searched LinkedIn for profiles that have the word “Alteryx.” That search yielded over 47,000 professionals on LinkedIn—not working for Alteryx—who know that it’s valuable to mention their Alteryx experience and skills on their LinkedIn profiles.
If you haven’t noticed, being an Alteryx badass can bring tangible value to you as a professional and have positive implications for your career. So, you might ask, “How do I use my Alteryx badassery to actually help build my career and grow my professional brand?” As you’ll read in this post, the answer is as simple as building an Alteryx workflow. I will walk you through a set of tools you can drag and drop into your life to create the career path and brand you aspire to.
Begin with the End in Mind
Before we dive into the tools you will use to Alteryx your career and brand, it’s important to first have an idea of what your goals are and what kind of brand you want to build. For example, do you want to move from an analyst role to management? Or, do you want to grow from an analyst into a citizen data scientist? Or, perhaps you already manage Alteryx analysts, and you want to become a director. To ensure that you focus on the right activities and create the right message for your brand, it’s important to have a sense of the direction you want to go in.
Figuring this out can be challenging, so here’s a thought experiment to help you. Imagine yourself at a job interview for that “perfect next job.” First of all, what is that “perfect next job” for you? And second, what would you want to be able to say about your skills and experience in that interview? What would you imagine to be valuable to say that you’ve accomplished? How would you want to say you’ve contributed in your current role that demonstrates you’re ready for this desired next role?
Be sure to spend some time thinking about where you want to go before coming up with your plan. This will be your guide and compass to ensure that you spend time doing the right things to grow the career and brand to take you to your next level of badassery.
How to Use Career- and Brand-Building Tools
In this post, I am going to present you with a wide assortment of opportunities and ideas that are available to you today through the Alteryx Community that you can readily use to build your career and your brand. Some data professionals will find that all of the tools will be useful to help them meet their goals, while others may only need to tap into a few to take their careers to the next level. Like a workflow, you don’t need every tool to get good results. And, similarly, there is no one “right way” to achieve your goals. I encourage you to trust yourself and believe that you know what’s best for you.
So, let’s get started and accelerate your career growth. I just ask one thing in return. If you find a particular tool that helps you, please tell us about it here in a comment so others can learn from your success. Or, better yet, as you will see below, you can build your personal analytics brand by blogging about it here in the Alteryx Community.
Tool #1: Get a New Identity
Words matter. How you describe yourself and what you do matters. Be thoughtful and selective about how you talk about who you are professionally and what you do. This is how you are telling other professionals what you want them to know about you. One way to create your brand on Alteryx Community is through your Community handle (or username). For example, one of my fellow Alteryx ACEs, Mark Frisch, uses the Community handle “MarqueeCrew,” which illuminates the powerful and popular set of macros, called “CReW macros” that Mark maintains and generously shares with the Alteryx Community. Like many Alteryx rock stars, Mark is a great example of using the Alteryx Community to build his brand. In fact, you can hear Mark share some terrific advice in the Public Sector Alteryx User Group meeting that’s entirely focused on Alteryxing your career and brand.
Let’s look at an example. Jaxon is a Communications Specialist for his company who started to work with employee satisfaction survey data in his organization. Jaxon is new to working with data, but once he started using Alteryx, he realized he had a passion for data and was actually quite good at it. Jaxon became the “go-to guy” for statistics and insights in his company. Now, he wants to build his career and brand as a data professional who can interpret survey data and connect with other professionals doing the same. Jaxon decided to create his Alteryx Community handle as “SurveyDataJaxon.” As soon as you see posts from Jaxon on the Alteryx Community, you immediately know that this is someone whose expertise is survey data. His handle communicates something about his professional life. It’s part of his brand.
Take action: If you are reading this, there is a strong possibility you’ve already created your Alteryx Community account and already have a handle. So, if you decide that your Community handle is a tool that you want to use to build your brand, you will need help to change your current handle. You can put your change request into the Alteryx Community managers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tool #2: Join the Discussion
With roughly 200,000 posts in the Alteryx Community, there is always something interesting happening. One way I have seen many Alteryx ACEs build and accelerate their career growth is through their active involvement in the Alteryx Community. When you go to the Alteryx Community landing page, you will automatically see the latest posts. I encourage you to peruse the challenges that other users post they are having and submit a solution to help out a fellow user. Helping to solve challenges in the community not only helps out your fellow Alteryx users, but it allows you to begin to build a brand as someone who is knowledgeable and has a strong competency in Alteryx. Several top Alteryx Community posters have gone on to compete in the Alteryx Grand Prix or become Alteryx ACEs.
Additionally, by staying abreast of what your fellow Alteryx Users are doing with Alteryx, you stay relevant in the latest data practices. You will be able to see the ways that your work can benefit others by posting solutions or ideas.
Take action: Set aside some time each day or week to review new posts in the Alteryx Community. Watch how others respond to the questions that are posted and how they share their expertise. Take a stab at solving a few problems and sharing your response. The Alteryx Community is very friendly, and it is an easy place to try out your skills. If you’re really nervous, you could even preface your post with “I’m still new here and getting started in the Alteryx Community, and I wanted to try to help solve this user’s problem. Here’s what I came up with. I’m still learning, and I’m looking forward to seeing how others approach it.” I bet you’ll get support and encouragement from your fellow Alteryx Community. And, you can take comfort in knowing that there are many, many ways to solve the same problem in Alteryx. I encourage you to give it a try. Let us know how it goes!
Tool #3: Share What You Do
Sharing a use case with the Alteryx Community is a way to let others know exactly how you are using your data skills in a particular industry or for a particular capability area, such as finance. When you solve problems in Alteryx, sometimes it can feel like the work you did was “super simple” because of the power that Alteryx brings. But, remember, often your work would have been challenging to do programming code or been very tedious to solve in Excel. Because of this power, it can be tempting to think that your use case isn’t valuable for sharing, but nothing could be further from the truth. Alteryx users come to the Alteryx Community to see if they can find other users doing the same things that they need to do. There is tremendous value in seeing even basic tools being put together to solve basic industry or department-focused problems.
Before dismissing your work and thinking that you don’t have a use case, think about your last workflow or several workflows. What did you do that your organization or team needed? That’s the business challenge or business problem that you solved. Take your thinking a step further. How did what you do bring success and results to your business? Many analysts are tempted to stop here, and say, “Well, I only created bar charts to show month-over-month numbers or showed how many of each item were in a category.” This is where I like to challenge analysts who are tempted to devalue their work. Reporting on even the most basic summary statistics is something a business stakeholder likely didn’t have before you did your work. You are giving them visibility into the business in a way they haven’t had access to—visibility that is going to help them make better decisions. That’s not trivial.
Now, think about who needed that workflow to be done? What is their role? Why did they need your data work to help them with their job? What part of their job did your work help them with? These people can be called your “stakeholders” who are interacting with your Alteryx processes. Your stakeholders may have defined the requirements. They may be using your outcomes. They are an important part of your use case story, as well. Some stakeholders have direct interactions, such as running an Alteryx app on the Alteryx Server, while others rely on the information from your manager, such as the Director of Revenue using your results to inform the CFO. Think about that for a minute. Are your results being used to inform C-levels or other leaders in your organization? If so, that’s powerful, and you can use that to build your brand.
Take action: To begin, it can be helpful to check out the Use Cases already published in the Alteryx Community. This will give a sense of the format and what’s already been published. While there, you will see that there is a handy form to help you get started. In fact, if you have an idea but you’re too busy to write, the Alteryx Customer Advocacy Team is happy to help you. You can use the online form or contact them directly at email@example.com.
When you submit a use case to the Alteryx Community team, you will have a team of professionals ready to help you finesse your story for online publication. Getting your use case published online is powerful! Then, once your use case is published, you can take it your brand-building a step further by sharing your Alteryx Use Case through social media such as LinkedIn or Twitter.
And, finally, you can add your Alteryx Use Case to your LinkedIn profile under Publications, Projects and/or Honors and Awards – after all it is an honor to have your Alteryx use case published!
Tool #4 Level Up
Alteryx offers some incredible training—for free!—through the Alteryx Academy. What a lot of Alteryx users don’t realize is that the skills that you gain through Alteryx training aren’t just about how to jockey the Alteryx Platform. When you complete these trainings, you gain deep insight into data types, data structures, data blending and preparation, descriptive statics, data formulas and expressions, spatial analysis and problem-solving skills – just to name a few. Alteryx Academy training arms you with resume-worthy skills and hands-on experience that you can use to elevate your career.
Take action: The Alteryx team recognizes that there are many different learning styles so they provide learning opportunities in a variety of formats, including dozens of interactive lessons, training videos, weekly challenges, and certification curriculum guides and prep sessions. There is even the new Alteryx Designer Learning Path with a prescriptive curriculum that culminates in a brag-worthy capstone project.
Tool #5 Get Together
When I last checked, there are over 40 Alteryx User Groups in cities across the Americas, another 15 in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, another seven in Asia-Pacific and five virtual industry- or department-related Alteryx User Groups that meet online. Additionally, many companies also have internal Alteryx User Groups. And, this number is growing rapidly as the Alteryx global community continues to expand. Alteryx User Groups are extremely popular because of the opportunities they provide to share ideas, learn new things and find like-minded data geeks who are passionate about the power of data. And, they are just plain fun!
Take action: The Alteryx Community has a comprehensive list of volunteer-run Alteryx User Groups. When you go to a User Group landing page, you will see a button that gives you the option to “Join the Group.” Once you join an Alteryx User Group, you can participate in the online discussion as well as attend the regular meetings. You can even go into your Alteryx Community profile under “My Settings” to adjust your “Subscription & Notifications” to receive email notifications of User Group activity.
Once you become of member of one (or several) Alteryx User Groups, you are just getting starting. Next, you can amp up your personal brand by volunteering to speak at a meeting. In fact, if you submitted an Alteryx Use Case previously to grow your brand, you can repurpose your story by presenting it at an Alteryx User Group!
And, your brand building doesn’t have to stop there. You can invite your fellow professionals through social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter to come hear you speak. After you’ve delivered your presentation, you can again use social media channels to let your fellow professionals know about the meeting recording. Using social media, you are letting your network know about your expertise, accomplishments and industry knowledge – and that you have something valuable to contribute to the greater analytics community. Not only are you building your professional brand, but you are giving back.
But, what if you don’t have a local Alteryx User Group to attend? Then, you have a different kind of opportunity to grow your career. Alteryx provides many User Group Resources, including a complete playbook for how to start a local Alteryx User Group. And, that would be a great way to expand and grow your leadership skills and network. Taking the initiative to start and help lead a local Alteryx User Group gives you incredible bragging rights about your professional maturity and abilities.
Finally, many organizations find that having an internal Alteryx User Group increases cross-department collaboration and opens up new possibilities for leveraging the organization’s data. There is a terrific article in the Alteryx Community that specifically walks you through starting an Internal Alteryx User Group.
Tool #6 Interview Someone
Once you begin to get more engaged in the Alteryx Community – following discussions, attending Alteryx User Group meetings or reading Alteryx Use Cases – you may find that you admire certain Alteryx Community members or they pique your curiosity. Perhaps you could benefit from a good old fashioned informational interview to grow your career. If you did your homework upfront, as recommended, and you have an idea of what your goals are and what kind of brand you want to build, it can be useful to talk to people who already do what you aspire to do. This is the purpose of an informational interview. An informational interview is usually a conversation where you ask 5-6 prepared and targeted questions to help you learn about your desired role. This is NOT a job interview, and you shouldn’t conduct an informational interview with the intent of trying to get a job. That’s not to say that an informational interview won’t lead to a job—because it might—but it can actually hurt your brand if you set up an informational interview with deceptive intent, and it is discovered that your motives weren’t sincere.
Take action: Once you identify someone in the Alteryx Community who models a skill or trait that you desire to grow, or who has a position that is similar to what you aspire to, you can directly message them from within the Alteryx Community. When you click on a fellow Alteryx user’s community profile, there is an option to send a direct message. In this first message, you should tell them what it is that you admire about them and ask them if they would be willing to do an information interview. You should let them know that you only need 30 minutes—because that is really all that you should ask for—and then respect that time limit.
Next, you should do your homework and be prepared for the informational interview. You should take the initiative to learn as much as you can online about their company and their position, so that you don’t waste their time asking them questions you can easily find the answers to online. You should have five or six questions prepared to ask them about the skills and experience needed for their role, what the challenges are, what is positive—and negative—about the role, and recommendations or advice that they can offer to you to develop your skills and gain experience that you might need. It is critical that you respect their time and end the interview promptly before the 30 minutes is up. While they may politely extend the time, they will appreciate it if you show courtesy and respect. It is important to leave a positive impression as this person is now part of your growing network.
Within 24 hours of the information interview, send them a thank you note to thank them for their time and to let them know how what they shared will specifically help you. It is also a good idea to tell them exactly how you plan to take action on the information and advice that you share. Again, this person is now a part of your professional network, and you want to create and maintain a positive reputation. Within 24 hours, it is also a good idea to invite them to join your professional network on LinkedIn.
Tool #7 Do Good
There are many great stories in the Alteryx Community about data rock stars using Alteryx For Good. Many analysts and data scientists find that they want to extend their Alteryx superpowers to create positive impact in the world around them. And, doing good isn’t just good for your heart and your soul, it may be good for your career too. More and more organizations are recognizing social responsibility as a core part of their fabric and identify. Using your data badassery to contribute to non-profits is a way to give back while building your brand as a data professional with a social conscience.
Take action: Check out the Alteryx For Good For Nonprofits page in the Alteryx Community. Alteryx offers five ways to power up nonprofits with data and analytics. Additionally, Alteryx has a team of Alteryx For Good Co-Lab volunteers who are at the ready to volunteer their time. You can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.