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Jackson Chapter Revitalizes and Starts New Chapters

Friday, October 29, 2004   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kenneth McCardle, Southern District Director
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By Kenneth McCardle
AITP Southern District Director and Assistant Vice President Information Systems
Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company

AITP's Jackson Chapter developed a win/win relationship with local area vendors. They discovered a natural fit between their desire to increase membership and vendors' quest to more effectively market their products. What did they do? The Jackson Chapter held an AITP after-hours party!

The AITP after-hours event is held twice a year to increase networking among IT peers and networking with IT vendors. "This event allows our members to socialize outside of work and gives non-members an opportunity to see what AITP is all about in a casual, fun atmosphere," said Cindy Todd, senior account executive of Business Communications Inc. and president of the AITP Jackson chapter. "Response from the IT community and vendors has been tremendous. We have held these events over the last two years and each time we have increased our membership."

National and local vendors were solicited to sponsor the event, which includes food, beverages and entertainment by a live band. The event was free to all IT professionals in the area, and thanks to the sponsoring vendors, was a huge success. The chapter netted several hundred dollars to add to their budget. Wow, throw a party and make money! What a concept.

"Vendors find that involvement in AITP gives them a greater understanding of present IT challenges in their area. The interaction in a non-sales setting allows vendors to talk on a more personal and intellectual level about business and events," said Justin James, a sales executive from Computer Associates.

Each of the parties has been a huge success for the vendors because of the opportunity to visit with many of their customers by making only one stop. They also realize that if their customers join AITP, they can attend the monthly meetings and keep in touch with them. The savings in travel time and expenses, on behalf of the vendors, easily justifies their sponsorship at these events.

The AITP after-hours events have sparked enormous interest with vendors statewide. Several have joined together, and are working with the Jackson chapter to help start new chapters and revitalize inactive ones. The vendors believe that through AITP they can better reach markets throughout the entire state. The state has been divided into four geographic regions: Gulf Coast, Hattiesburg-Laurel, Jackson and Tupelo. Vendors from these areas and the Jackson chapter are together establishing plans to assist in establishing AITP chapters in these areas. Vendors have committed to assist with financial support for the kickoff of these new/revitalized AITP chapters.

This increased vendor support and interest in AITP adds value for the individual member. Vendors assist by sponsoring AITP events and by encouraging their customers to join AITP to have one-stop meeting with clients, resulting in less travel and reduced marketing expenses for their company. The local AITP chapter receives the benefits of the new members and the financial sponsorship of the vendors.

It's an exciting day here in Mississippi for AITP! This partnership is truly a winning combination.


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