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By Kelly Ricker

One of the best things about the IT channel is the industry community. With a few exceptions, the IT channel is made up essentially of small-business owners seeking to support the technology needs of other small businesses. That environment invites peer collaboration to ensure one is running a healthy business while providing customers with the best solutions and support.

It can take years of channel experience and a fair amount of relationship building to create the right environment. Partners come and go, as do staff members. All solution providers have to find their proper niches and develop the relationships, internal and external, to support the needs of their specific clients.

That isn’t easy to do. While most IT business owners are truly technological gurus, able to navigate and design the most complex networks and security apps, they often struggle with balance sheets, partner negotiations and HR matters. Recruiting employees and developing long-term organizational plans is not in their comfort zone.

The good news is that most providers can overcome all those challenges. Whether they pick up best practices from peers or other industry professionals, or attend business-oriented training classes that help them master new skills, our industry offers a host of resources that can help.

CompTIA has been developing channel resources (for vendors and distributors, too) for decades. What started with our certifications programs–which continue to enable and drive the tech side of the industry–has extended into channel business training, peer communities, practice development programs and many other educational resources for IT professionals.

CompTIA’s ChannelCon 2016, running from Aug. 1 to 3 in Hollywood, Fla., includes an agenda packed with training sessions and face-to-face peer community meetings.

One of the main attractions at the conference will be a keynote speech by Super Bowl champion and future NFL Hall of Famer Peyton Manning on game planning. Expect some insight on teamwork and skills development, as well as a few great stories from his memorable career.

Customers Are More than Xs and Os

Building a game-winning strategy for your IT business may not seem as glamorous as standing in the huddle during Super Bowl 50, but it’s extremely important to those who depend on your support. Your clients and their customers, as well as your employees and their family members, all depend on your strategy’s success.

Here’s what’s on tap at ChannelCon this year:

  • Executive Certificate Courses: These classroom-style interactive sessions are structured around proven industry best practices and information gleaned from some of the top channel experts. If you’re interested in acquiring valued business acumen that can be implemented right away, consider signing up for the intermediate-level Executive Certificate in Cloud. For our vendor members, there’s the Executive Certificate in Channel Management track.
  • Specialty tracks: Struggling with talent recruitment? Check out the Behavioral Interviewing session at ChannelCon. Another session will show you how to sell security without the fear factor. Or you can sit in on a number of other channel-business enablement classes.
  • Community sessions: Who better to learn from that your peers? Our member communities and councils work year-round to drive positive change in the IT channel, and these interactive sessions get everyone involved. All channel professionals are welcome to attend, collaborate and discuss common industry issues. Just check out the schedules listed on the individual Community Web pages.
  • Tack4Techs: For the technical support team, these courses cover IT-specific education in sales and customer service, plus many of the soft skills they need to succeed in today’s workplace. The professional trainers at ChannelCon will help your staff develop new skills and, if they hold certain CompTIA certifications, they can earn continuing education unit, or CEU, credit as well.

Kelly Ricker is ‎senior vice president of events and education at CompTIA.