Coming at you from Orlando, from the state known for its theme parks, gator-related deaths, and criminally-charged Florida man, I’m attending IT Nation 2015. IT Nation is a yearly pilgrimage for IT professionals and vendors that involves a lot of drinking.
IT Nation is hosted by ConnectWise, one of the leading PSA/CRMs for the IT industry (software that handles billing, support tickets, documentation, scheduling, etc.). These IT companies typically fall into the Managed Services Provider (MSP) bracket, which means they provide proactive computer/network support for small and mid-sized businesses as opposed to simply fixing computers when they break. At Directive, we started using ConnectWise around the time I was hired, and have since built integrations around it, as well as offer marketing services to other IT companies and vendors. We attend IT Nation as a vendor, representing ourselves under the JoomConnect moniker, the name of our marketing platform/integration with ConnectWise. This probably sounds pretty complicated if you are outside of the industry. My mom just tells people that I work on the computers.
Honestly, I’m the last person you want fixing your computer, for two reasons:
- At one point, I was listed as one of the top 250 IT professionals in the world. I’m pretty expensive.
- I have no idea what I’m doing. I just know that you’ve done something terribly wrong.
This is my 5th IT Nation. It feels like I was just here yesterday running the booth and learning about Reinvention from author and guest speaker Josh Linkner. It feels like it was only a couple weeks ago that I was getting drunk at the nerd party at the House of Blues in Downtown Disney. It also feels like I’ve spent the entire time between the last IT Nation getting ready for this one. The year has gone by fast and I’m sure my constituents share the same sentiment.
The trip started out like this:
- We got to Orlando a day early so we can hit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. I get by just fine as a muggle, but I was thinking about tagging along.
- Woke up in the middle of Tuesday night to get to Albany International Airport at 5am. I wanted to use the phrase “buttcrack of dawn” in this sentence but the buttcrack of dawn refers to a time not as early as 5am.
- Layover in Chicago for a few.
- Landed in Orlando around noon, with plenty of time to hit Universal Studios.
- Skipped Universal Studios and Harry Potter World.
- Poked around the hotel for a bit, then had dinner at Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse, which ironically has several locations within about 90 minutes of where I live, and one location in Orlando. Never been until now, but I’d recommend it.
The rest of the itinerary goes something like this:
- Scramble to get the booth set up.
- Shake hands and kiss babies.
- Spend a lot of time on the feet.
- Have a drink or two or seven.
There’s a lot of wining and dining and standing up. Since I’ve shed 40 lbs, all of those things weren’t as uncomfortable as they have been in the past.
I’m Kind of Bad at Trade Shows
I am no sales person. I don’t have that special something that allows me to mirror and tug the strings to manipulate an interest to a close. I understand the science behind it, but I can’t consistently summon the mojo for it. I catch myself using idioms or filler words and then dedicate too much processing to bring it to my own attention, and from there things just go down hill. It’s just not my element. These five years have taught me enough to get by, and I’ve learned to relax and not to internalize so much, but it might take another five to totally get to where I feel like I’m not faking it.
I also recall my first IT Nation way back in 2010. I gave a presentation about social media marketing at a breakout session.
Yikes, look at those cheeks. Ah, memories.
A lot has changed in just a few years.
Being self-aware is both a blessing and a curse, but as long as you acknowledge it and act on it, things will turn out fine.
What I Have Learned and Continue to Work On
- Slowing down at the booth. For some reason I’ve always felt like I have a limited amount of time to talk to someone before they peace out and run off. It’s not true. Plus, going over more details just sucks them in further.
- Ironically, it’s hard for me to joke around towards people I don’t know (it’s completely the opposite if we know each other well enough), but when I catch an opportunity to, I now try to capitalize on it. People tend to respond positively to that.
I don’t know when to hug verses when to handshake.Handshakes are always awkward to me unless both parties lower their pinkies. Seriously, try it. You won’t want to go back.
- While everybody reacts to everything differently, if you have trouble locking on to a person to mirror them, just show off the things you are most excited about.
- Nobody gets my Farscape references.
- By the time we’re an hour into the vendor pavilion a lot of folks are copping a pretty decent buzz. This puts me at ease.
Things Got Real at the Marcus Lemonis Keynote
I’ve not seen the CNBC reality show, The Profit, so I didn’t know who Marcus Lemonis was before this. I’m going to be adding it to my queue when I get home. Marcus put on an amazing keynote that I don’t think anybody could have expected. After revealing his tragic past and exposing his vulnerabilities, he encouraged others to stand up and do the same. Some real hard things were said, there were some real tears, and damn. Just damn. You had to be there. This keynote deserves it’s own blog entry. I can’t promise that I’ll write it, but I can say that it is giving me a revived perspective.
All in all, it was a good event, but I’m looking forward to a couple days of downtime in Daytona Beach before flying back home. Once I’ve fully recovered from IT Nation 2015, I’ll need to start getting prepared for IT Nation 2016.