What did I learn in 2006?

I just saw an interesting blog called Instigatorblog, where Ben Yoskovitz has asked readers what they learned in 2006. Although I normally consider myself more of a forward-looking person, this question grabbed my attention a little bit because it's been an eventful year for me.

In January, I was still running a development department for a Business Rules Engine company called Resolution EBS. The original meaning of "EBS" has been lost to history, but for purposes of this discussion, we can assume it meant "Energetic But Sunk", because we were rapidly taking on water.

The first thing I learned, then, was what happens to a company when it dies. I'd been through buy-outs and mergers, but I'd never seen a company just close its doors. We wound inexorably toward that end, and in May, the doors closed for the last time.

The next day, I learned how to file for unemployment. Sigh.

Then, I learned how to conduct a job search. A real job search. I attended a couple meetings of a group called 40 Plus, where the 40, by the way, is intended to be the number of hours you expend on your job search every week, but which sadly also corresponded to the ages of the members. I learned a few things there, but concluded that there were probably better places for me to spend my time.

I started to do some serious networking, which turned out to be a lot of work. I scared up a bunch of leads and started chasing them down. Quickly, it became clear that I was working a sales process, and I was doing it with post-it notes all over my desktop. So I set up SugarCRM and started using it for my job search (read more about this in SugarCRM for Job Search Management - Part 1 and Part 2).

Of course, I ended up getting a new job - I'm an Applications Architect for a local consulting firm, and things are going ok. While the sense of adventure is a bit diminished, so is the drama of seeing your employer exist month-to-month, and that's not a bad thing!

Through it all, I've also learned a bit more about social networking. I'd heard of services like LinkedIn and participated on sites like Joel on Software, but hadn't really appreciated how these services can help build communities. Today, I add sites like MyBlogLog to the list, and I also recognize the role of individuals like Ben.

Thanks to all, and here's to a prosperous 2007!