Agents joined in for another installation of the Peer-to-Peer Networking Mixer on Thursday, enjoying the taste and sound of Chicago and expert-led discussion centered around six topics: emerging opportunities; sales and marketing; selling hardware; contracts; growth and transformation; and open/free-form conversation.
Once again, PlanetOne Communications sponsored the 90-minute event, which is open only to independent agents and subagents. The master agency offered a Taste of Chicago spread that included a bar as well as food from Little Italy, Greek Town and Wrigley Field, all mixed with a bit of the blues.
Takeaways from the group discussions:
- "What everybody at the show has been talking about – cloud." — That from Colombo DiSalvatore, owner of C4 Communications, who moderated the emerging opportunities table. Participants also talked about suppliers, money, consulting and how to charge for it, and energy. The buzz on the last topic, DiSalvatore said, "was pretty down."
- Over at the sales and marketing table, attendees wanted to know about best practices for blogging, said moderator Angela Leavitt, chief mojo-making officer at Mojo Marketing, as well as lead-generation and how to make the most of LinkedIn.
- When it comes to contracts, agents wanted to know how the Universal Service Fund, mergers and intercarrier compensation affect their legal stance, said Andy Lipman, senior partner at Bingham McCutchen. Agents also wanted more details on how to get out of bad contracts.
- For attendees at the growth and transformation table, cloud was a dominant piece of the conversation, said Telecom Advisors President Dan Vidal. Agents further talked about how to make the most of resources, such as partnerships and alliances. As one attendee told Vidal, "Processes are great, but people are greater."
- Finally, participants at the open discussion table said they want to do a better job of working with VARs; they also addressed some of the challenges they face with carriers, said Ed Terry, director of strategic alliances for Expert Technology Associates.
On the fun side, attendees were entered into the drawing for five prizes: a Second City package, in honor of the Chicago-based comedy troupe; a Chicago Blues package with music from artists including Buddy Guy; a Chicago pizza package, including a gift certificate to Lou Malnati's Pizzeria; a Chicago Cubs package with a jersey and ball cap; and, courtesy of PlanetOne, an Apple TV.
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