IT Nation is the Biggest Networking Opportunity of the Year. Don’t Screw It Up!
IT Nation is just around the corner – one of the best opportunities of the whole year for our industry to get together, network, and learn from each other.
Are you going to do it right?
Seriously, it is really easy to screw up a networking opportunity like IT Nation. A lot of guys I know will just head on out with a pocket full of business cards, pass them around to everyone they meet, look at the big pile of cards they built up from everyone else, and say to themselves, “Job well done!” Then they put their collected contacts into a drawer and wait for next year.
That’s not networking. That’s like trying for the “100 kills” achievement in a video game. No one but yourself is going to congratulate you for just building up a lot of new potential contacts.
What you need to do is CONNECT with those new contacts.
As always, our advice to making the most of your marketing opportunities is to do the work. I know, I know, what terrible advice, but you didn’t become the head of your company because you were lazy. And yeah, while you’ve got to do the work, we’re here to at least give you the plan of attack. Here we go!
1. Limit the number of vendors you speak with.
There are over 2,500 people heading out to IT Nation. Don’t try to talk to everyone. Instead, find the gaps in your offering and speak with those vendors first. The IT channel is very competitive, and vendors will always be trying to lure you away and into their net. Resist the temptation to just run with the crowd or speak with every vendor you come across, or that’s ALL you’ll be doing.
2. Seek out the influencers and learn from them.
There are going to be a lot of people with known influence over the IT channel attending IT Nation. Here’s the thing about all of them: they love to talk. They LOVE it. And you should be listening.
These could be big names in consulting, marketing, or strategy, or it could just be the older and bigger companies that have continued to do well year after year. Don’t just hang out with the companies smaller than you or the same size. Seek out the big fish and have a coffee or a hallway chat with them on the way to an event. Pick their brains! Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something into your iPhone if you want to maybe record a particularly good piece of advice.
3. Talk to your competition.
You’re going to run into other MSPs at events like IT Nation. Maybe even a few from your own markets. That’s good! Use this opportunity! We are not a community of isolationists. Technology connects everyone, and we should embrace that, even if it means sharing tips with the competition.
Why? Because you can’t be everything to everyone, and your peers will have skills that you can use to help your clients, and vice versa! Partner up with your competition and share what has helped you succeed. Help each other network with other people you know. It doesn’t have to be a competition. Co-operate and share, just like you learned in kindergarten.
4. Make notes!
You’re going to end up collecting a lot of business cards and flyers. Bring some pens and sharpies with you, and something flat you can write on in a pinch. When you make a contact you’re interested in, write down a note or two on the back of their card. Maybe it’s a quote or a short description of the service they provide. Whatever!
This is going to help you remember why you talked to this person in the first place. You’re going to see a LOT of people at an event like IT Nation, and it’ll be hell to try to remember them all without a bit of help. By making a few short notes after a meeting, you’ll remember them better, and you’ll be able to sort out who’s actually worth your time and who isn’t.
5. Follow up!
Okay, last point, but it’s the biggest. Don’t just sit on the contacts you make. Follow through on them! Add people on LinkedIn and actually message them. Say, “Hi, remember me?” Ask follow-up questions about their service. Send them something you think might interest them. USE THE CONTACTS YOU MADE.
I can’t stress that enough. You will get nothing out of IT Nation if you don’t talk to people after the event. Take a few days to decompress, and then start building up your network and making the most of it.
Ulistic provides marketing services to managed services providers. The Ulistic team acts as part of your team, engaging and working with your MSP each day to assist in providing the foundation for stratospheric success. Learn more at Ulistic.com.