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How MSPs can get the most out of IT Channel Events

The tradeshow season is upon us and it’s important for MSPs and VARs to get the most out their experience at industry events. It’s a learned skill and takes some preparation and effort to capitalize effectively on these shows. I have put together a list of tips that MSPs can use to get the most out of attending IT Channel events.

1. Plan the sessions you will attend in advance, and make sure you attend. There is nothing worse than trying to get into a session and it’s already booked. Build out a schedule of sessions that you want to attend and do it! It’s important to not forget the reason that you there. It is tempting to catch up on emails or grab a cup of coffee, but you will be shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t capitalize on being at the show. If you aren’t enjoying a session, go to another. You don’t know what you don’t know, and events are a great way to learn new trends, practices and ideas.

2. Set-up time to speak with the sponsor or any speakers. Meet with your Sales rep or your technical rep, and build your relationship with them. Nothing is better and more valuable than a meeting face to face. Book some time with them advance and talk to them about your business, opportunities and see how you can better work together. 3. Talk to strangers – build your network! Meet some new people, get recommendations on where to go tomorrow, what they enjoyed at the show and what speakers you need to see.

4. Get business cards from the exhibiting vendors. It’s difficult to remember all of your conversations, jot some notes on the back of the card that will help you trigger the good/better/best conversations. 5.Use Twitter and get online. Others are tweeting about the show and their experience live from the floor of your event, you should too! You will not only see some great feedback from the show but also make connections along the way. Couldn’t attend the keynote you were interested in because it was in conflict with another? Check the Twitter event hashtag stream and discover what you missed!

6. Don’t skip out on the social events. This is a great way to meet other MSPs and vendors. It’s also an opportunity to learn something about them that you hadn’t known before, build new relationships and grow your network. It’s a win, win, win situation!

7. Take notes during all keynotes. Back to back presentations can be like drinking from a fire hose, so make sure you write down relevant and important info. Revisit later and if something doesn’t make sense, or if you have a question, talk with the speaker to get more details.

8. Bring along staff. Taking in all the info at the show yourself is a daunting task. Bring along a technical and/or sales representative from your company. Not only will you learn A LOT more, you won’t spread yourself too thin!

9. Be in the present: Have you been to a show and you see a sea of people at the cafe with headphones on and are working a way on their laptops? I am not talking about the one on a conference call, it’s the one that hasn’t left their laptop all afternoon, don’t be that person. Remember why you are at the show, don’t waste your money. There is ALWAYS something to be learned at these shows as long as you are paying attention and are aware. Believe me when I say that there is a lot more to gain from industry events than a stack of business cards.

Marlene Mullowney