As I look at the schedule of upcoming channel industry events I am suddenly taken back to the late 70s and my favorite band The Clash, belting out “Should I Stay or Should I Go” from their classic album, Combat Rock. (If I have to explain what an album is you may not get the reference immediately, therefore I’ve included links.)
Either way, it is a serious question. There is nothing more valuable than our time and often prioritizing is a challenge. Whether you are looking at (in alphabetical order) Channel Focus, Channel Visionaries, Women of the Channel, or others, they can all be incredibly valuable…or an incredibly poor use of time. Which is why my thoughts turn to quantifying your personal ROI of attending any of these events.
So let’s just say you are in the mood for travel and are going to attend at least one channel event. You can Google the traveler’s guide to the universe/high-tech industry events, or do as a well-organized friend of mine has done and sit down and strategically map out the pre- event, event, and post-event activities.
Her first thought was “keep it real” – she obviously did spend some time in the 70s. What she meant was, do not waste your time planning an agenda that you are not going to follow through on. While stretching is encouraged, understand that the agenda is there to lead you, not change your personality.
Have a goal and objective. Her goal was to develop more of a network of individuals who were experiencing issues similar to hers. In her case, how to successfully migrate partners from accrual to proposal-based MDF, with the caveat of not having utilization go from 90% to 30%. To do that she knew she had to go a little out of her comfort zone and not sit at the tables with all of her co-workers at every meal and event.
Her objective was to take some well-prepared thoughts and engage with at least five different people each day. Basically, engage with people she did not know at everything from the workshops to the lunches and evening events. Perhaps even a supplier or two. She theorized that if she failed 80% of the time she would still leave with three good contacts. A detailed person indeed, but not so much of an optimist.
And most importantly, her commitment was to follow up with those she came into contact with. And that does not mean simply emailing her new friends with questions, but thinking about how she could give as well as get by first sharing her own experience and insights.
She met one individual who she thought would be a good long-term fit and reached out to this person with some contacts for the challenge he was experiencing. Several months later, when she really needed some advice, she felt really good about asking for a return favor. She took the long-term approach and formed a mutually beneficial relationship with measurable ROI.
Everyone is going to have their own objective depending on current professional challenges and the direction of their individual organization. The keys for success are pretty simple – plan well, keep it simple, take some chances, follow through on your game plan, and measure your results. Sounds a lot like a channel incentive program. And if you attend an event, go on the entertainment boat rides, even if you don’t like boats or sales people, you never know who you’ll meet!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Kellam, SVP of Sales and Marketing at CCI
As a growth specialist, Steven is responsible for CCI’s sales and marketing strategy and vision for today’s goals and objectives as well as positioning the organization for continued, long-term success. Steven has experience in both the VAR space, having run a successful Managed Services IT business, and a background in Manufacturing where he built a channel of over 2,000 partners.