Making The Connection | VARBusiness

By Jennifer Shine

From the December 18, 2006 VARBusiness

The tech market is tough–it’s competitive and getting tighter and tighter. With news of mature markets and an approaching time of attrition in our industry, many VARs are being driven to isolationist policies. We build walls around our strategies; we keep tight-lipped about our business practices. The problem with closing ourselves off is that in times like these, mistakes are more costly.

With an industrywide shift toward new strategies like managed services and outsourcing, most firms are in the throes of a paradigm shift, and the ones who are doing it successfully are not reinventing the wheel. They’re using peer networking to make decisions about how they will do business in the future.

This is a concept that’s not only being embraced by VARs, but also exalted by our vendors. Whether grabbing a beer after work, sending off an e-mail across time zones or making a monthly phone call, peer networking is vital for plotting the direction of our businesses. The best practices we develop from sharing and interacting with each other create a better, more consistent experience for our clients.

Taking advantage of this opportunity has its complications though. Before you take the plunge, here are five ways to productively work with other VARs:

1. Get involved. Professional association meetings, vendor networking groups and channel events are a great opportunity to meet firms that deal with the same issues you do, in a forum that’s conducive to open conversation. Be sure to participate fully.

2. Seek out the like-minded. Network with firms that complement your skillsets. The more alike the partner, the more likely your combined experiences will benefit each other. You’ll more readily relate to business pains.

3. Develop the relationship over time. Build trust by starting out slowly and maintaining an even balance of contribution to the relationship. Keep the conversations going by scheduling regular meetings or conference calls.

4. Play by the rules you create. It’s important to define the boundaries of your relationship, especially if your service areas overlap. So don’t lose sight of the value of that relationship if conflict arises.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask where they went wrong. You can learn from each other’s mistakes. Our failures often become our greatest successes.

Jennifer Shine is president of Hoboken, N.J.-based eMazzanti Technologies.



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