Channel Watch

Partners Helping Partners Reach Customers

The Washington, D.C., chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP) ran an interesting experiment a few weeks ago.

A handful of partners, including D.C. IAMCP's dynamic president Mo Edjlali, pooled their resources to stage a customer-focused event at the Microsoft facility in Reston, Va., called "Maximize IT." They advertised on local radio, hit their customer lists and tapped Microsoft contacts to get CIOs from around the region to attend the event.

While the IAMCP regularly holds partner-to-partner meetings and gatherings in chapters all over the world, this was the first I'd heard of a chapter putting together an event for customers.

My office is in the Baltimore area, so I attend as many of the D.C. chapter's events as I can. I got a chance to see this event firsthand as a panelist, and it seemed to go really well.

The outreach efforts brought more than 60 registered attendees, many of them the types of customers the D.C. IAMCP partners were hoping to reach.

Having the event on Microsoft's turf, with Microsoft employees moderating panels and contributing to technical and business-oriented sessions, added credibility to the event. Bringing customers of multiple partners together generated new interactions and opportunities and interesting discussions. It created energy and a buzz that can be harder to achieve with an event sponsored by a single partner.

There was a little confusion about who the audience was owing to the newness of the approach. Some of the Microsofties and some of us on various panels weren't used to an IAMCP event's audience being customers instead of partners. It wasn't a problem, just something to be aware of if you plan an event like this yourself.

Let me know if you're interested in hearing more about it. I'd be happy to hook you up with the event's coordinators for logistics and other tips on how to make something like this work in your area.

Speaking of events and networking, I'll be at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in New Orleans later this month, soaking up news about the new Microsoft Partner Network, Wave 14 and Software plus Services. I'll also be trying to eat as much Cajun food as I possibly can without becoming immobile. It's my fourth partner conference, and of all the WPC cities I've been to (Boston, Denver and Houston), it's the one I'm most excited to visit.

If you're going to be there too, drop me an e-mail at [email protected]. It would be great to meet up and chat about the green shoots of the economy, the persistent brown weeds of the recession, promising technologies and innovative business models, all while looking at pictures of your kids or grandkids on your mobile device.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.