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The Changing Channel

Surviving WPC: The Secret's in the Planning

Navigating the Worldwide Partner Conference can be a major undertaking. Microsoft offers its WPC Connect tool as a way to manage meetings and keep track of sessions. Problem: Navigating the WPC Connect tool can also be a major undertaking.

Those of you who were at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) the last time it was in Houston are probably thinking that WPC should stand for Wild Perspiration Contest. I walked back one block from the conference center to the hotel last time and friends came running up with glasses of ice water, saying, "You look like you need it."

While there's no doubt there'll be a hot time in the old town July 8-11, you can get even hotter results from the experience if you follow a few basic best practices, and if you take advantage of the resources that have been put out there for you.

Best Practices
Making the most of the WPC is all in the planning. If you don't plan, you find yourself wandering aimlessly around the...now, what is Microsoft calling it this year? It was always the expo, but last year Microsoft renamed it the "partner information center" or something like that.

This year it's "the commons." It's broken out into areas such as Cloud, Mobility and so on. You still want to wear your Merrells there because you'll be doing a lot of walking. The conference is enormous. When you find yourself wandering around it aimlessly, stop and say to yourself, "Self, you failed to plan for the WPC." Then look for stuff your customers would love to buy and put the reps in the booths to the test. Make them impress you. Then take their T-shirt and be off to the next.

A good plan includes lining up people to meet with who can help you build your business. When you sign into digitalwpc.com, you'll be given the opportunity to log into WPC Connect -- and you should do so. This homepage is a pretty good portal into the resources of the WPC. But WPC Connect is not where you go to connect with others for meetings.

The Confusion Begins
The WPC is a huge undertaking. There were more than 16,000 attendees last year. Some things are just going to be like Windows 8: They won't work the way you expect, or the way they should, in the first iteration. Deal with it.

So you'd think that you'd go to WPC Connect to connect, but swing your eyes to the right and you'll see that the Session & Meeting Scheduler has its own tile. Why? I can't tell you because I can't figure it out, either. If you do click WPC Connect you'll see a red tile on the right asking if you're wondering why you can't see the Session & Meeting Scheduler tools. If you click on it, you'll be told that this may be happening because you're logged in with the wrong ID. You'll spend hours trying to figure out what's wrong, only to find that nothing's wrong. This, my friends, is the price you pay.

Click the Back arrow on your browser and find the Session & Meeting Scheduler tool sitting there waiting for you where you would least expect it, but should have seen it on your way in. This won't be the last confounding thing you encounter.

When you click into the Session & Meeting Scheduler you'll receive the not-surprising news that Steve Ballmer and Kevin Turner top the WPC keynote lineup.

When you enter the Session Scheduler be sure to check out sessions SM01, US29, BL07 and SM21. That's about as much shameless-plug time as I'll take up.

As of this writing, clicking Meeting Scheduler is like waiting for leads. It does nothing. Get used to this. The WPC Connect Meeting Scheduler has never been a superstar. The filtering makes it fun to find people to meet with, if you consider the challenge to be fun -- and even if you do find someone and invite them, there was talk last year of holding a contest to see who got stood up for the most WPC Connect meetings.

First-Time Attendees
Once you do click WPC Connect, at the lower-left corner is a tile for First-Time Attendees. You should absolutely click it if this is your first WPC. You should also come to the First Time Attendee (FTA) luncheons being held on the second floor of the convention center above Hall D every day of the conference. For one thing, I'll be there to answer whatever questions you may have, or discuss anything channel you might want to talk about! For another, this program was designed to provide you with resources, insight and advice from longtime WPC veterans.

See you in Houston!

More Columns by Howard Cohen:

About the Author

Howard M. Cohen is a consultant to IT vendors and channel partner companies and a board member of the U.S. chapter of the IAMCP. Reach him at hmc@hmcwritenow.com.

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