When was the last time you attended an MSP conference? After you returned from your last conference, you probably felt a sense of excitement, and you were filled with ideas that you could not wait to turn into realities. If you were planning to attend an MSP conference in 2020, those plans would probably be changed by the time Spring 2020 rolled around. The pandemic forced leaders in the MSP industry to rethink in-person conferences.
Plenty of in-person conferences were moved to an online platform, and became virtual conferences—or were canceled altogether. Supporters of virtual conferences pointed to various factors, including reduced carbon emissions and increased accessibility, as they made their case for virtual conferences. Many of the changes that were made during the COVID-19 pandemic became permanent. It remains to be seen whether online connections will have the same impact as the connections that were made in person, but leaders are still trying to implement strategies that will continue to make online connections a success.
Why Do MSP Leaders Attend Industry Conferences?
Attending industry conferences has always been a great way for MSP leaders to grow. When attending industry conferences in the past, MSP leaders had opportunities to learn from speakers who know their way around the MSP industry. In-person MSP industry conferences allowed MSP leaders to interact with fellow MSPs who were on the same journey. Attending in-person conferences gave MSP leaders the ability to take some time away from the workplace.
Attending MSP conferences provided a time for leaders to think, plan, and strategize. Many MSP leaders discovered that after attending MSP conferences, they would return to work feeling refreshed, full of inspiration, and ideas that are waiting to be implemented. In-person conferences in any industry have always been a great way to develop individually and as an organization. In-person conferences exposed leaders to new ideas and concepts and provided them with a roadmap to develop a solid strategy to grow the MSP. Leadership means sharing ideas and concepts and watching them grow.
With all the benefits that industry conferences can offer, can we expect to see more MSP industry conferences soon? What impact will recent changes have on in-person MSP conferences in the future?
Will MSPs Attend In-Person Conferences Again?
Surveys and research show that many are eager to return to in-person conferences and meetings, but there is also an expectation that virtual conferences are here to stay. There is also an eagerness to resume in-person conference participation to increase awareness of products and service offerings. Since some MSP events are starting to open up, we wanted to find out from leaders in the industry if they have plans to attend future industry conferences and what they hope to get out of attending the conferences. Do MSP leaders want to attend the talks? Do they want to network with their peers or do they just want to check out new vendors?
We gathered some insight from an online forum, and here is a glimpse into what we uncovered:
”I would look at attending or sponsoring events where your clients attend. MSP events are great…but I believe attending the events your clients attend will allow you to get the real pulse of what is happening in the industries your clients are. Just my 2 cents. Did that in my MSP and it was huge. We became the biggest name in the Calgary oil and gas industry from 2002 to 2008 (sold out in 2008).” – Online Forum User
”MSP conferences are all the same…they are like Caribbean countries…been to one, been to them all. They all have the same speakers and dialog. Really, you can get all this noise from a night in watching YouTube videos. Yes, you miss the hallway talks, you can get that from a peer group.” – Online Forum User
”I don’t have any set plans to attend this year but I’ve been to a few and the one thing that was most valuable to me was networking. I have not only made contacts that have helped me out from an on-site hands perspective with remote clients, but have also gotten ideas and pointers from others who have already done what I’m trying to do. We’re still pretty small, but getting to talk to the people that have grown much larger and picking their brains is the most valuable part in my book. The lessons and training are good but you can get that anywhere and any time.” – Online Forum User
The Future of Conferences
The success of virtual conferences during the COVID-19 pandemic likely took many by surprise. There has been a great appreciation amongst the community in various industries for the affordable and sustainable experience that virtual conferences have offered. Talks, Q&As, one-on-one sessions, and networking events were successfully turned into virtual formats.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some leaders and experts were working on strategies and ideas that could make meetings better. Recently, leaders have been discussing ways to reduce the climate impact of in-person conferences across the world. Before the pandemic, people were interested in online meetings and conferences, and many were initially skeptical of that because they believed the point of industry conferences was not just to participate in the talks or lead the talks, it was about meeting new people and reconnecting with old friends.
While some have shown appreciation, others would quickly say they do miss the personal connections, engaging conversations, and welcoming networking sessions at in-person conferences. Conference organizers and funders soon put their heads together to create a way to combine virtual and in-person conferences. Should conferences return to their in-person format after we are finally able to move past the COVID-19 pandemic? Could more virtual conferences take place? Could conferences be created that will allow participants to choose the format they want to attend?
If in-person MSP conferences make a return, will you make plans to attend? How do you think attending MSP events, online or virtual, will have an impact on your MSP? Regardless of what type of conferences you plan to attend, Ulistic LP encourages you to evaluate each option from an ROI perspective and make your choice work for you.
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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