Since joining Caerusnet Ann Arbor back in 2010, Patrick Collins has become known as a kind of Swiss army knife for IT.  He is eager to help with something as simple as replacing a cracked computer laptop screen.  Yet, he also often enters the space of the very sophisticated … like designing, installing and maintaining a company’s sophisticated computer networks.   Mostly, Patrick wants to help people eliminate the frustration they often face in technology and in working with the usual computer geeks who lack “humanness”.  As Patrick often likes to say when he finishes his Member Minute, “I want to take the SH away from your IT.”

We think of Patrick     as an “IT Hero”, as the Washtenaw County residence’s attendance at his Caerusnet Ann Arbor Tuesday 1PM team is Iron-Man like.  Participation is a key to Member success and Patrick is close to 100% attendance every year, set aside the once in a blue moon common cold or his annual pilgrimage to Atlanta for the Dragon Con (just because he doesn’t speak geek, doesn’t mean he isn’t one).

We embraced the opportunity to spend time learning from Patrick in this interview:

How long have you been in your profession?  I’ve been in the Tech industry since 2005, first in wireless and telecom sales and then worked my way onto the IT side of the business. I started Ypsilanti Tech Works in 2010.

How did you get into this field?  I’ve always been a computer geek, all the way back to the mid-eighties when I used to write programs in “Basic” language on our family’s Texas Instruments computer. Along the way, I picked up a degree in computer science and always enjoyed figuring out how and why things worked in a computer or network.

What is the best thing about your business/career? I love that IT is so broad of a field and changing all the time. There will always be something new I can learn, but what really gets me out of bed in the morning is knowing what I do allows my clients to serve their customers and meet their goals.

What is your strategy with your member minute and your spotlight presentation? Being in a technical field, for my Member Minute, I am always trying to make sure I speak in terms of what benefits my services provide to my clients, not the features where my description might go beyond the technical knowledge for members of the group. Early on I learned to recognize the eyes glazed over look of someone whom I’ve lost because they were not as fluent in “techie” as needed to understand what I was talking about, so now if I start seeing that look I know I went too geeky and adjust my Member Minute on the fly or remember to change it up the next meeting. I think about it this way, nobody goes to a baker and cares about the cake’s recipe, they just care about the flavor of the cake and what that cake will bring to the event they are buying it for.  For Spotlight presentations, I either go into more depth about one of my offerings, or educate the group about why a business would need my services. I have a little more time to explain concepts that Members would not understand but just like with my Member Minute, I try to not go over the heads of my audience I try to stick to anecdotes and stories about the benefits of doing business with me (and especially with data security the risks of not implementing the services I am talking about).

Tips on how to be successful in Caerusnet?  I think the most important thing to remember about being successful in Caerusnet is that you have to play the long game (think “relationship farming”). It takes time for the other Members to get to know, like and trust you.  And with each new member that clock starts again. There have been times where the group makeup was not ideal for someone selling B2B IT services, and I would not see many referrals. However, after a few months there would be some turnover and we would add a few Members that passed very good referrals to me.

Could you share an unexpected way in how your Caerusnet members have positively influenced you or your business besides passing referrals?  I have to give thanks to Kevin Suboski and his “Growing a Brilliant Business” program. Not only did his guidance help me better define my business and how to share it with the world, some of the other topics we have discussed since then have really helped me grow as a professional.

Want to connect with Patrick Collins from Ypsilanti Tech Works? Click here to go to his Member listing.