keep-calm-and-love-mondayHappy Monday, it is about to be another crazy week in the MSP world. As I, and a couple hundred others, prepare to leave for Las Vegas to attend the Datto Partner Conference, I am thinking to myself how crazy it is for MSPs to attend all these conferences. Do MSPs really learn anything or is it a bunch of hype?

Back when I was running my MSP firm, I attended a number of conferences. As an industry consultant I still attend a lot of conferences, usually because I am speaking or taking part on a panel. I need to ask the MSPs reading this post if you go to conferences with an agenda to accomplish or do you go just to get away from the office?

Back in the day, CompTIA would “host” MSPs and VARs. Meaning they would cover airfare and hotel to get us to the conferences. The vendors would spend a lot of money to have a captive audience of “potential” clients. I believe this form of “hosting” still happens with conferences like XChange. Thinking back, I’m not sure I got a lot out of the agendas that I was forced into attending because they paid for me to attend. However, I got a lot out of networking with my peers and the vendors whose products and services I was interested in utilizing for my company.

As an MSP, how do you choose which conferences to attend? Typically at the beginning of each year, I will sit down with the partners I am working with to ask them which vendor conferences they thinking about attending. The first 2 conferences are always either IT Nation or Autotask Community Live, depending on whether they are a Connectwise or Autotask partner. Then we discuss the ASCII Group Success Summits, Robin Robins, Parallels, Channel Partners, Ingram, CompTIA, our partner meetings and some of their other vendors who put on conferences. How many conferences does an MSP have to attend to learn the same thing over and over? Or are they even learning anything new? More importantly, how much money should an MSP invest to attend these conferences? Is it all really worth it?

When a partner of mine attends a conference I assign them a task. The task I assign is to come back from that conference with 1 major takeaway and a plan to implement that into their business over the next 3 months. Folks, it is all about a return on investment (ROI). If you are not investing in yourself when you attend these conferences, then you are spending money and time you will never get back.

I started off by saying that I am attending the Datto Partner Conference. I am not speaking or exhibiting at this conference, so why am I going? Industry friend, Rob Rae asked me to attend. We are going to discuss end user marketing and how together, Datto and Stuart Selbst Consulting can collaborate to help more MSPs succeed. For me, the conversation I plan to have with Rob and his team is worth the investment of attending. It fits into our mantra, “collaboration for mutual, long term success.” On a personal note, I get to see one of my best partners, Jeff Jewell from Jewell Computing Solutions. Seeing my partners at conferences is always rewarding for me.

I look forward to being in Las Vegas this week. I hope to meet some new people and catch up with industry friends that I haven’t seen in a long time. If you are attending the conference and would like to meet up and talk about your business, feel free to either email me at stuart@stuartselbst.com or tweet me at @MSPCoach. If you are at the conference, don’t forget to use #DattoConf14 when on twitter. See you in Vegas.

All the best in success,

Stu

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