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.)
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.
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.
HTG Peer Groupswww.htgpeergroups.com
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.
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.
Robin Robins’ Producers Clubwww.robinrobins.com
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.
Taylor Business Groupwww.taylorbusinessgroup.com
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.
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.
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?”