Managed services professionals should consider conferences, roadshows, and webinars as cross-business unit investments. Like any time-consuming activity, companies deserve a positive return, whether attending a distributor, vendor or association event or an online education session.
The commitments are considerable, whether traveling down the street or flying across the country, if not the world, to participate in training sessions or network and collaborate with peers and vendors. Between the lost opportunity costs and hotel, travel and meal expenses, the expenditures tend to rack up quickly. The hard part is finding events that will enrich your life, aid professional development, or help attain business goals without breaking the budget.
From keynotes and engaging demos to networking with peers, vendors and other channel professionals, the options are plentiful every year, and the experience can be exhausting. However, with a little planning, that time can also be quite rewarding.
Construct an Annual Events Strategy
Whether you own an MSP business or support the operation in some other capacity, attending industry events and engaging in professional training sessions should deliver a positive outcome for the organization. While it’s not easy (or even possible in some cases) to accurately calculate an ROI, a simple checklist of objectives can help travelers validate the value of the trip. With the events season just underway for 2023, there’s no better time to create an event strategy for your business. Need a few ideas for constructing a workable plan with measurable objectives? Here are several events best practices from successful MSPs:
- Map out an annual (at least quarterly) event plan.
Begin by ranking each conference or show based on its importance to your business and professional goals. Personal interests (such as family or friends living close by the event venue) may play a part in how some select the conferences and training sessions they’ll attend, but organizational goals should be top-of-mind. Researching the options is a much easier process today with hosts promoting their agendas and list of speakers online and on social media months in advance. Validating the content and training opportunities before completing the registration and booking travel is a recommended best practice.
- Create a priorities list for each event.
With so many activities at events, a good rule of thumb is to keep it simple by selecting three to five goals for longer conferences and one to two for roadshows and shows that run one day or less. Training sessions that could benefit professional development or the business should be at the top of that list. Many MSPs prioritize vendor partner events to optimize their technology utilization and deepen and broaden relationships with channel support and product teams. When prospecting for new suppliers, be sure to note booth numbers to save time (and steps) at the event.
- Build a personal schedule.
The vast majority of conference organizers post their program details two if not three months before the show. Prospective attendees can review the session information and highlight the presentations that best match their own priorities. Larger events have their own apps for scheduling and communicating with attendees, though many MSPs add important sessions and meetings to their personal calendars. Experienced show-goers leave time for networking and one-on-one meetings with suppliers, peers, and others—conversations that tend to generate ideas and create new business opportunities.
- Follow schedule discipline.
A good event plan can get off track quickly, especially when you meet old friends or get distracted or delayed in other sessions. Of course, altering the schedule to accommodate other business objectives isn’t bad for an MSP, as long as they don’t overlook key event objectives.
This is the most critical step for achieving a solid event ROI. It may require several follow-up conversations to answer critical questions, work out key details of a new vendor program, or solidify plans for a unique new partnership opportunity. Success requires both sides to keep up the momentum and follow through on critical next steps.
Put Those Plans into Motion
Now is the perfect time to map out a 2023 channel events schedule and strategy. Begin with a list of industry conferences, roadshows and workshops, including locations, dates and a few short notes on why to attend. Many MSPs set an annual travel budget and then frame out and prioritize the relevant events each quarter. That list should be dynamic since vendors and associations frequently add local roadshows and lunch-and-learns that could be hard to pass up to their travel schedules, especially those that take place in your neighborhood.
Before booking flights or hitting the road, be sure to do a last-minute check of event agendas. Hosting organizations occasionally add practice-development workshops and channel business educational sessions. Many vendors and distributors invite partners to join in collaborative lunch discussions or after-hours entertainment. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun while out networking.
One final reminder, don’t forget to register. Signing up will open the doors to all the great sessions and discussions and ensure your place at the table. That’s the best way to get the most out of industry events.
Don’t miss your chance to visit with ConnectBooster and network and learn alongside thousands of MSPs at ConnectIT Global in Las Vegas on April 24-27, 2023. Find more information and register here. Best wishes and safe travels in 2023!