I had the privilege of attending HTG Peer Group’s first quarter meeting for 2016. During the meeting, I had a chance to meet with all the “important” people, including the CEO and Owner, the head of vendor sponsorships, and the President. Throughout my tour, the HTG group stood out as a family, a close-knit community of MSP partners (including the vendor reps). If it truly does “take a village to raise a child,” then why wouldn’t the same apply to a MSP, VAR, or any business? There are many peer groups, networking organizations, and associations for professionals in the IT channel. Here are a few reasons why you should consider joining one to help you reach your goals and objectives:
- A sense of belonging. Who doesn’t want to feel loved? You may find new friends or employees for your next venture, but it’s even more than that. You are in a roomful of like-minded business owners who understand what keeps you up at night and the fears associated with change. They are responsible to put food on tables (not just their own, but their employees’) and may be worried about the performance of their staff, unsure how to expand a business, or uninformed on how to hire and properly compensate someone.
But the members may also have a growth mindset: how do I achieve double digit growth next year? How do I hire a sales manager or sales rep? How do I add new vendors or cloud products to my offering? Maybe there’s a personal aspect as well, like work/life balance, goal setting, career development, or mentorship. While this list certainly isn’t all inclusive, you see the point: if you are seeking one or several of these objectives, there is an organization to support you.
- Peer Pressure (the good kind). This is like having a gym buddy—you will let them down if you bail at the last minute because you’d rather sit home and watch TV. Depending on the organization, you may set goals, objectives and expectations with the group and express plans to implement within your business. What if they held you accountable to them? The group may help you hit these milestones and empathize with you when you fall short. If goals aren’t met on time, the group feels as if they’ve let you down. It’s a tribe mentality.
- Sounding Board. Use this to your advantage! Most likely there is a business owner in the room who stumbled over the same issue you are facing today. You will have the opportunity to meet new people in the same industry with a different spin on go-to-market strategies and niches. Perhaps your new acquaintance found the silver bullet to sales compensation plans for SaaS products—something you’ve been struggling with for a year. Collaborate and open up. Keep in mind there may be competitors in the room, so find someone in an area that you don’t service (and vice versa) and talk to them!
- Strengthen Relationships. In addition to establishing new connections, you can strengthen relationships with vendors you currently work with. Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Symantec, and others are typically invested in these communities. You will likely meet vendor representatives that you can network with—and you’ll have an “in” to help solve the support issue, product defect, or challenging return that is currently on your list of to-dos. These contacts alone could make the investment of time worth it!
It may seem like a chore to get involved, especially with so many other things to worry about. But building relationships is important and having a network that understands your business is pivotal to success. Maybe you think you know it all—but what if you don’t? I’ve listed below four organizations to jump start your search in finding the group that best fits your needs. These are not one-size-fits-all, so do your research!
- HTG Peer Groups. If you are an MSP and looking for an organization of individuals to help you grow, build, and expand your MSP business you may consider HTG Peer Groups. Learn more at htgpeergroups.com.
- CompTIA membership is a two-way street. It’s not just about consuming, but also contributing—not just to the association, but to other members and the IT industry as a whole. To learn more, visit www.comptia.org.
- International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP). The IAMCP is not just for resellers, but any businesses in the Microsoft Partner community. There are local chapters across the globe that meets on various topics. The IAMCP even has a “Women in Technology” group as well. To learn more, visit IAMCP-US.org . (Note: Tech Data customers who are IAMCP members may earn better pricing. Call our Microsoft team to find out if you’re eligible).
- ASCii. Founded in 1984, ASCii is an organization dedicated to MSPs, VARs and IT solution providers with Success Summits across the US. ASCii offers a savings program, marketing help, and other benefits. To find more information, visit www.ascii.com.
This list of organizations isn’t exhaustive. Did I miss one that partners need to know about? Please share in the comment section below.
Laura Vanassche is currently a Marketing Strategist for Tech Data, where she helps cloud and software partners in the IT channel access vendor and distribution resources. | @lvanassc