On ten previous occasions, I had the privilege and pleasure to represent my company at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference. WPC’s value, while immeasurable to any partner committed to being great with Microsoft, can be summarized in one simple statement:
“Here is how you make money in the year ahead.”
Knowing that it boggles my mind that something like a scant 2% of Microsoft’s partner community will be in attendance. You’ve therefore gained a significant differentiator just by registering.
My first WPC was Toronto in 2004. Now, as I make my final preparations to return to Toronto for my eleventh WPC, it occurred to me that I learned a few things over the years that might help you maximize the competitive advantages to be derived from your own WPC experience:
- Attend the keynotes in person. Yeah, you could stream them live from the comfort of your hotel room….but you’ll miss out on the raw energy and contagious enthusiasm.
- In-person meetings should take precedence over all else.
- Be approachable. Smile, and make sure your attendee badge is visible at all times to encourage other attendees to start potentially valuable conversations with you.
- Be bold. “What brings you to WPC?” is a perfect way to open a conversation with the person seated next to you on the shuttle, at lunch, in your regional lounge.
- Sign up for the speciality meals. The food is almost always better and there’s rarely a line, so you can get back to the action faster.
- Walk farther to save time. Everyone is eager for a beer after ten hours of meetings and sessions, so long lines tend to format the drink and food stations nearest to the entryway….but as a general rule, the lines get shorter as you venture deeper into the room.
- Visit the various Microsoft pavilions frequently. Here you have the opportunity to make important Microsoft contacts as well as to grab an ever-changing array of cool swag.
- Hang around after your sessions end. The presenters are almost certainly contacts you want to cultivate, so thank them for what you learned, ask a follow-up question, exchange business cards.
- Complete the evaluations for EVERY session you attend. Microsoft relies on our collective feedback to make next year’s WPC even more compelling and valuable.
- Follow through. WPC doesn’t end on July 14 – in fact, your work has just begun. Watch recordings of all the sessions you wanted to attend but couldn’t; send thank you messages to everyone you met along with a reason to continue your conversation; present to your company a summary of all that you learned and a plan to put what you learned into action.
WPC is an action-packed, intense event of vital importance to our shared success as Microsoft partners….but it is also a celebration of all that we and Microsoft achieved together in their FY16. So if we miss each other at our booth (#742) or during lunch, look for me at the bar at the back of the room – I’ll be the smiling guy with a beer in one hand and a stack of business cards in the other. Come on over and ask what brought me to WPC this year. 🙂