Networking — the person-to-person kind, not the computer kind — is critical to running a successful business.

For starters, getting together with your peers is a great way to share knowledge, identify best practices and assess vendors. You get to hear real-life stories of what works and what doesn’t from companies just like yours.

Another big benefit of networking is helping you reach more customers by connecting you to other service providers that offer complementary services. Maybe you don’t take on a lot of mobile support but your referral partner loves that kind of business. In exchange, he might send you business that aligns to your strengths—say, security.

Together, you can provide your customers with a fuller range of service options, helping you both retain business you might otherwise lose to a competitor.

The connections you make with peers can also give you new ideas, encourage you to reach for big goals, serve as a sounding board, give you a kick in the butt when you need one, and just generally keep you sane.

Here are eight great MSP peer groups and the major events they hold. (Listed in alphabetical order.)

 

ASCII Groupwww.ascii.com

Alan Weinberger, founder and CEO of ASCII
Run by: Alan Weinberger, founder and CEO
Focus on: All things MSP and VAR-related, with a special emphasis on marketing

The ASCII Group’s history stretches all the way back to 1984, which makes it the oldest professional community that focuses specifically on MSPs and VARs. It’s also one of the largest and most active MSP peer groups in North America. In addition to its eight annual conferences, the organization hosts an online knowledge-exchange forum, providing a way to network without leaving home.

  • Main events: IT SMB Success Summits
  • When: 8 events in 2016 starting in February
  • Where: Each event is in a different US location, from Texas to Wisconsin
  • More info

 

CompTIAwww.comptia.org

Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO of CompTIA
Run by: Todd Thibodeaux, president and CEO
Focus on: Broad range of IT areas, from networking and security to cloud and Linux

CompTIA also has a long history, tracing its origins to 1982. It has one of the biggest names among professional groups for the IT industry in general. In addition to its major event, ChannelCon, it organizes a range of smaller events–both physical and virtual–devoted to various topics. This gives you the chance to participate in the ones that are most relevant to your areas of technical focus.

  • Main event: ChannelCon
  • When: Aug 1 – 3, 2016
  • Where: Hollywood, Florida
  • More info

 

HTG Peer Groupswww.htgpeergroups.com

Arlin Sorensen, founder and CEO of HTG Peer Groups
Run by: Arlin Sorensen, founder and CEO
Focus on: Business development and management

HTG peer groups are small—only 10 to 12 people per group—so you have a chance to really learn from each other. All members are executives or owners at IT companies. In addition to regular meetings with your peer group, the quarterly events bring together all the groups from across the country.

  • Main events: Quarterly Business Reviews
  • When: Feb 1 – 5, May 2 – 6, Aug 1 – 5, Oct 31 – Nov 4, 2016
  • Where: Locations across the US, as well as events in Europe and Australia
  • More info

 

MSPAlliancewww.mspalliance.com

Charles Weaver, co-founder and CEO of MSPAlliance
Run by: Charles Weaver, co-founder and CEO
Focus on: Managed services and cloud computing

MSPAlliance bills itself as the “largest and oldest vendor neutral organization” for independent cloud providers and MSPs. Its focus on the MSP world makes its events a great opportunity for MSPs to connect with one another—as well as with security professionals and investors who also attend. MSPAlliance’s MSPWorld event promises to deliver practical, educational sessions with real-world applicability.

  • Main events: MSPWorld
  • When: Spring and fall. Next one is Apr 3 – 5, 2016
  • Where: Orlando, Florida
  • More info

 

Robin Robins’ Producers Clubwww.robinrobins.com

Robin Robins, founder and CEO of Technology Marketing Toolkit
Run by: Robin Robins, founder and CEO
Focus on: Marketing, sales, business growth

Robin Robins events are personal, focused events with an exclusive air. (There’s an application process to attend and the organizers say only those applicants who are the “right fit” can participate.) Through an approach that emphasizes the development of personal skills and accountability, the events offer MSPs and other business leaders an opportunity to learn and discuss strategies for growing their sales and revenues. Essentially, it’s life coaching for MSPs.

  • Main event: Producers Club, Boot Camps, & Roadshow
  • When: Next event (Marketing Boot Camp) is May 11 – 14, 2016
  • Where: Nashville, TN
  • More info

 

Taylor Business Groupwww.taylorbusinessgroup.com

John Christophersen, president of Taylor Business Group
Run by: John Christophersen, president
Focus on: Financials, profitability, business management, sales

Auvik attended the BIG Big event in 2015 and we can tell you from first-hand experience, the people who attend are focused. You’ll meet MSP owners and leaders who work together to share best practices and meet aggressive sales and performance goals.

  • Main events: BIG Big Conference
  • When: TBA
  • Where: TBA
  • More info

 

The 20www.the20.com

Tim Conkle, founder of The 20
Run by: Tim Conkle, founder
Focus on: Marketing, sales, business development

As its name implies, this organization’s promise is to help MSPs place their company in the top 20% of businesses that thrive, rather than the other 80% that fail or struggle to gain momentum. Its founder and leader, Tim Conkle, was an MSP himself before founding the group. The 20 emphasizes strategies for making managed services more efficient and unified, and priming them for growth.

  • Main event: Meeting information is for members only

 

TruMethodswww.trumethods.com

Gary Pica, founder and president of TruMethods
Run by: Gary Pica, founder and president
Focus on: Business growth, profitability

TruMethods pitches itself as a trainer for MSPs. It promises to save them from the “reactive spiral of death” that arises when running the business day-to-day interferes with planning for and investing in the future. Its annual event, Schnizzfest, is attended only by MSPs, making it a great opportunity for networking as well as sharing business strategies. While the ideas exchanged are serious, the event—as its name implies—offers a lighthearted and relaxed atmosphere. Tagline: “It’s Schnizzfest… how could we not have fun?”

  • Main events: Schnizzfest
  • When: Jun 9 – 11, 2016
  • Where: Philadelphia, PA
  • More info