Partnering with Partners to Build Your Business

The channel is there to grow your business as well as ours.

With the holidays behind you and the calendars turned to a new year, now is an ideal time to roll up your sleeves and consider the many ways you can grow your business in a way that works best for you, your employees and your customers.

And all of us with the Microsoft Partner Program are here to help.

The favorite part of my job is working with you -- members of Microsoft's network of trusted, expert business partners. And every time I meet with a partner -- regardless of the organization's size, location or specialty -- I learn something.

Today, I'd like to share some of that learning. Over the years, in our work throughout the Microsoft partner community, a key theme has emerged: Partners that work closely with other Microsoft partners enjoy tremendous benefits.

Consider this: Partners have reported that 40 percent of their new business opportunities are the direct result of their work with other Microsoft partners. The numbers that can be used to measure the potential scope of such opportunities are staggering. Take 250,000 partners, multiply that by four connections with other partners per partner, and you've got a million interactions. If each connection leads to two deals, you're now looking at 2 million new business opportunities for partners.

Interested?

How to Get Started
There are as many ways to forge profitable alliances with other Microsoft partners as there are Microsoft partners. Networking opportunities abound, from the formal sessions at events such as Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Conference to the less formal, more spontaneous interactions that take place in your community every day.

In addition to those types of collaborative opportunities, there are two avenues for partnering with other Microsoft partners that I'd like to suggest: Microsoft's Partner Channel Builder, and the International Association of Microsoft Certified Partners (IAMCP).

Partner Channel Builder is a key component of the Microsoft Partner Program. It is a Web-based networking tool that has the potential to become a significant avenue of growth for Microsoft partners. Developed in close collaboration with several Microsoft partners, the tool was designed to create and foster business relationships among partners with complementary skills and expertise. It encourages and supports partners to draw on each other's areas of expertise to extend services and new business opportunities to existing and new clients. For more information about the Partner Channel Builder, please visit www.microsoft.com/partner.

IAMCP is your avenue to global partner-to-partner networking. With chapters throughout the United States and around the world, the IAMCP is a 100 percent volunteer association, a non-profit business by and for Microsoft partners passionate about taking entrepreneurship to the next level.

By way of relationships built through the association, IAMCP members have been able to sell to and successfully service customers whose requirements call for expertise in multiple areas. Microsoft partners have worked together to provide customers with more complete technical solutions, sales and licensing competencies, as well as other services they may not offer, whether locally, regionally, nationally or globally. The growth of the association is a testament to its value.

I've spoken with several IAMCP members, including Jeff Mills, vice president of channel development and partner enrichment at Bluespring Software Inc., a Gold Certified Partner that specializes in business process management. Jeff is president of the IAMCP's Cincinnati chapter.

"The IAMCP is all about networking and growing each other's businesses through partnering," Jeff told me recently.

Jeff compared one networking exercise his IAMCP chapter does to the five-minute dating phenomenon. "It's very frank," he said. "We go around the room and everyone says what they're really good at and where their gaps are, but since the door is closed, people let their hair down and also share the areas where they could use some help."

The bottom line, according to Jeff, is that the networking made possible by the IAMCP can lead to sales. "For example, we've just signed up with a consulting firm that specializes in information worker solutions," he said. "Since we bring business process management solutions that let users participate using e-mail and Microsoft Office, we can enhance what they offer and they can do the same for what we offer."

To build your business, and to have a good time in the process, I encourage you to check out your local chapter of the IAMCP. For more information, please visit www.iamcp.org.