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Microsoft Partner Taps Multiple Communities To Build Business

Every startup faces the challenges of having too much to do and too little time to do it. Balancing customer-service delivery with business development in the early stages is especially tough.

But Nikkia Carter, CEO and owner of Carter-McGowan Services LLC, makes the time to not only build the business but to advocate for others, as well.

Partnering Connections Through IAMCP
Carter serves on the board of directors for the Washington, D.C., chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) as the advocacy chair. She recently launched the D.C. Women in Technology (WIT) community, a subgroup of the IAMCP.

"One of the best ways to grow your business is through networking. The IAMCP meetings expose you to a lot of people in your partner community," Carter said. "As those people get to know you, they are more likely to remember you when they need help. When those partners get flooded with work, they will call you to help out."

Through her connections at the IAMCP, Carter has built several working relationships with partners in the Mid-Atlantic region. With each of those partners, Carter has found a complementary service relationship. She provides SharePoint, InfoPath and Office 365 development and training expertise to augment their services and then enlists their help when her clients need their specialties.

"I fill in gaps for them and vice versa. We complement each other's businesses," Carter explained.

Becoming involved locally leads to larger circles of relationships, according to Carter. While attending her first Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in 2013, IAMCP associates helped Carter expand her connections both inside and outside of Microsoft. This year at WPC, Carter was able to pay it forward by introducing new members to her connections.

Multiple Channels To Stay Informed and Build Community Ties
In addition to the IAMCP, Carter is active on social media, following the #msuspartner, #mspartner and #WPC14 Twitter tags, among others, to stay current and support the greater partner community. Participating in U.S. Partner Yammer Community and virtual communities helps catch opportunities in the information overload of Microsoft.

"Microsoft is so vast that it's easy to miss important announcements," Carter said. "The Yammer groups share information that, when you catch it early, can be gold."

A recent example was finding out about a special "Office Hours" event focused on Microsoft's FastTrack. The session included a presentation, followed by a Q&A segment that gave partners a unique opportunity to get specific questions answered.

Carter actively participates in the real-world SharePoint community, her technical specialty. Through SharePoint Saturday speaking engagements and sponsoring SharePoint Users Groups, Carter keeps those connections fresh and growing. She's currently working with Microsoft employees to create a Mobile First, Cloud First user group in D.C. 

Carter also extends her community involvement into her passion for teaching technology to children, especially girls and the disadvantaged. She works with Microsoft and other partners to participate in community tech advocacy whenever time will allow.

Through all of this involvement, Carter admits that the balance is challenging. Downtime is important to family and for personal well-being. But the time investment has paid off, as Carter is looking to hire a first employee to help her handle the rising volume of work. While there is no doubt that getting started as a Microsoft partner is overwhelming, Carter is proof that immersing yourself in the community can build the foundation for growth.

How are you taking on the challenge of building your business? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge.

Posted by Barb Levisay on September 24, 2014