The Millennial Report: Hitting the Conference Circuit in Search of Connections
As a member of the channel community, it’s likely that you’ll attend at least two trade shows each year, where hundreds and sometimes thousands of fellow IT professionals have gathered to learn about the latest vendor news or to simply network with their colleagues.
As a member of the channel community, it’s likely that you’ll attend at least two trade shows each year, where hundreds and sometimes thousands of fellow IT professionals have gathered to learn about the latest vendor news or to simply network with their colleagues. And although taking three to four days away from the office initially might seem like an unimaginable waste of time, it’s incredibly important for those of us in IT to get outside of our comfort zones and meet in person with other industry pros. And this goes doubly for millennials, since many of us have a difficult time communicating beyond email and text messages.
I recently wrote about how much I enjoyed attending the Future Leaders Community meeting at CompTIA ChannelCon 2015, and it got me thinking about the importance of large conferences in general. Sure, finding a way to justify three days away from your desk may be enough to make you want to scream, but think of those days spent outside the office as a way to meet new customers and scope out the competition in person.
There’s no better way to get up close and personal with the rest of the channel community than at one of these events, and the chances are high that you’ll walk away with not only a better idea of your competitors’ businesses but your own as well. And if it turns out you aren’t keeping up with the Joneses as much as you thought you were, there are always plenty of training sessions and networking breaks that will help you find new content or fresh faces to bring back to the home office. Better yet, you’re likely to run into other millennials so you can establish a network of contacts with similar ideas and philosophies.
Best of all, many of these events offer evening mixers, which are helpful social situations for breaking the ice and getting different groups of people together who might normally not have the chance to interact. For instance, how many opportunities outside of a conference would you have to play life-sized Jenga with fellow attendees or attend a concert specifically for channel and IT folks? The chances are slim, to say the least.
So the next time a trade show or vendor summit or distributor event rolls into town, grab a stack of business cards, iron your khakis and convince your boss to give you some time away from the office. And if he or she still isn’t swayed by the chance to make new connections and return with fresh ideas, tell them you’d be happy to bring them back a few conference t-shirts and a doggy bag full of free food to make your time away a little more appealing.
The Millennial Report is a weekly column by associate editor Michael Cusanelli, who graduated from Stony Brook University’s School of Journalism in 2012. He is an avid gamer and movie buff who spends nearly as much time concocting the perfect mix tape as he does writing. You can find him on Twitter @MCusanelliSB.