When is the last time that you made a real effort to meet new people? No, I'm not talking about creating an account on Match.com, I'm talking about bettering your business by improving your networking skills and leveraging new connections. Every day, you have the opportunity to ignite a relationship that could change your MSP business for the better. You never know who will offer you that valuable piece of advice that dramatically enhances operations.
Even if all of this guidance isn't life-altering per se, the list of benefits that comes with putting yourself and your company out there is endless.
So, what are you waiting for?
Embrace Social Media
When it comes to building up your network of peers and professionals, taking advantage of social media is a great way to make preliminary connections with others in the industry. Something as simple as tagging someone in a tweet or a Facebook post could open up a bigger conversation. Perhaps they see your message and respond. Now, you have a dialogue open with someone who previously didn't know that you existed. This is a step in the right direction and a great way to search and target people who you would like to add to your network.
Have a presence
Before you can start creating connections via social media, you need to create your accounts. You'll want to make sure that your company has an established social presence before you attempt to make connections. Remember, you want your account to represent your company or who you are as a professional. Below, are a few suggested platforms to begin with.
These aren't the only social platforms for making new connections, but they're a good launching point if your audience is active on them. Remember to continually feed your accounts so that they don't become stagnant and stale. Nobody wants to converse with a company that only tweets once a year.
Join/Create Groups and Pages
Social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn allow you to create different pages or groups. Joining or creating these groups and pages helps you to start new conversations, contribute to existing ones, and nurture key business relationships. Let's say you have a question about hiring best practices; A LinkedIn group like MSPmentor already has an ongoing conversation surrounding that topic. You can look back on the advice that has been offered and even contribute some of your own. If a specific question or topic doesn't exist, just create it yourself! Chances are, another MSP is looking for answers to the same question. Better yet, your channel expertise could get you noticed by prospects either shopping for a managed IT services solution or switching to another provider. Get a leg up on the competition and be a brand advocate on social platforms!
Attend Industry Events or Join a Peer Group
One surefire way to meet people within the industry is to attend an industry event. A simple search should give you a wide range of events happening throughout the year. For a small cost, you'll find yourself rubbing elbows and swapping advice with your peers.
Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to attend the HTG 2014 and IT Nation 2014 conferences in Orlando, Florida. Of all of the takeaways that I had from these events, the biggest was the incredible amount of peer interaction that took place. MSP business owners who had seen each other at previous conferences and events rejoined to discuss their current business trends, while also meeting new attendees and accepting new advice.
Related: HTG 2014 & IT Nation 2014 Recap
Joining a peer group might be the best way to meet new people who have shared interests. MSP peer groups will match you with similarly-sized business owners who can learn from you just as much as you can learn from them. To learn more about the benefits of joining a peer group, check out Ray Vrabel's recent blog post.
Once you've made initial connections, it's important to nurture those relationships. Make sure you don't lose contact with those peers that you've met. Staying in touch via email, phone calls, or even social media messages is a good way to continue to network and strengthen the bonds that you've formed.
If You Build It, They Will Come
If you take the necessary steps and establish yourself as a thought leader, industry peers will begin reaching out to you. Build your brand - you'll find that people will come to recognize it and will turn to you for your advice. Whether you aspire to take your business to this level of channel immersion, or you have already reached it, don't forget to share the wealth. Showcase at or host your own event. Launch a technical tips blog with content you source in your LinkedIn group. Share links touting your peers' accomplishments on Twitter. Every little bit helps! The more connections you create and develop, the more pull you'll have as an impactful leader in the IT industry.
So again, what are you waiting for? Get out there and meet new people, form new relationships, and establish yourself as a managed IT services powerhouse.
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