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HP user group wants to Connect with 100,000 members

Non-profit independent HP association seeks more customer and partner participants

LAS VEGAS – With more than 50,000 worldwide members to date, Connect, an independent user community for Hewlett Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) customers and partners, is looking to double its membership base within the next two years.

Connect is a global independent HP technology community that was formed a couple of years ago to become a “super group” when HP user groups Encompass, ITUG and HP-Interex EMEA merged together.

Chris Koppe, president of Connect, said the association is made possible by a group of volunteers, including himself, who oversee and manage it. When he’s not busy with Connect, Koppe is the director of marketing and business development at Montreal-based Speedware, a solution provider and an HP customer and partner.

The objective of the association is to provide its members with education, networking opportunities and advocacy, he said. In total, there are 37 chapters from around the world that make up Connect, including a Canadian chapter (CTUG). Through the association, Connect members are able to build and maintain relationships with others through the online community and at local and conference events.

The program is free and open to all HP customers and partners to join, however for members who wish to enjoy additional benefits, such as discounted rates to HP conferences, such as Tech Forum, there’s an annual fee of $50 per member.

Upon sign-up, members can create their own personal profile and utilize the Connect Web site to access resources such as forums, blogs, discussion groups, a monthly newsletter and file sharing capabilities, using a social networking-type of Web site. Through the association, members can also share things like best practices and experiences involving HP products and technologies with each other.

Although the association is financially independent of HP, Connect does periodically produce Webinars with the vendor, Koppe said. On occasion, HP will also provide Connect with content and speakers whenever the association puts on one of its several conferences throughout the year.

“If you’re an existing customer or partner of (HP) technology, you may want to network with your peers and get education-oriented content,” Koppe explained. “Connect can also serve as a sort of lead generation tool for partners since it’s a global network of contacts.”

With more than 50,000 Connect members today, Koppe said he’d like to see membership levels reach 100,000 members two years from now.

His message to potential members is to “join Connect today because there’s immense value in receiving education, best practices, advocacy and network opportunities to help provide additional value to you as an IT professional.”

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