In-Depth

Marching Orders: Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference 2012

Microsoft's annual Worldwide Partner Conference is a rewarding experience, but it can also become overwhelming if attendees aren't prepared. Here are some tips for how to survive (and enjoy) this year's WPC in Toronto from five industry consultants.

  • Catch up on all WPC 2012 news from RCPmag.com here.

It's a big investment going to the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), and we're not just talking about the event fee, hotel, travel and libations. The biggest investment is your valuable time and energy.

The Alliance for Channel Success (AFCS) and the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) held a webinar on April 23 called "Maximizing Your ROI on WPC" to help Microsoft partners learn from their experiences and get the most value and maximize their return on investment at WPC 2012. (The webinar will be repeated at 1 p.m. ET on May 10; registration is here.)

We've asked the consultants who make up the AFCS to write up some of the best tips they developed for their presentations as a set of marching orders for WPC 2012. Read on for best practices for making the most of the July 8-12 event in Toronto.


Register Early and Leverage IAMCP for Networking

Cohen
Howard M. Cohen
HMC Corporate Copywriting & Consulting

There are some basic things partners should be doing right now to prepare for WPC, including:

  • Registering on DigitalWPC.com.
  • Applying for, renewing or finding your passport.
  • Booking hotel and airfare because the longer you take, the further from the actual event you'll be staying.

U.S. partners represent almost half the attendees, and partners holding silver or gold levels of literally every Microsoft competency will be there, so finding partners for whatever you may be seeking will be easy. Also on hand will be guest speaker Deepak Chopra, and the final night's entertainment will be the band Train.

To help make those connections at WPC, consider joining the IAMCP beforehand, or at least plan to meet up with IAMCP representatives at WPC. The IAMCP is an organization specifically for Microsoft partners that focuses on the value of networking, serving two primary functions of benefit to partners:

  • IAMCP helps Microsoft partners to find and learn how to best partner with other partners to create broader, higher-value solutions for customers. This creates a win-win-win situation -- the customer wins by enjoying more value for their investment, the partners win by being able to create engagements they couldn't handle on their own, and Microsoft wins with new license sales and a new customer.

  • IAMCP helps partners learn how to better navigate the ocean that is Microsoft. It's huge, powerful and ever-changing, and if you aren't careful it can drag you under. Proper navigation means learning who to go to for what, and how to approach them when you need them to help you. Our members become very efficient Microsoft partners, which directly increases their bottom line.

IAMCP creates an easy path for members to build their network of IT friends, and WPC is the best opportunity to meet and greet those friends in person. Remember that the more good you do for more people, the more good finds its way back around to you. You'll meet a lot of people you can do good for in Toronto this July.


Treat WPC Like a Job

Thoreson
Ken Thoreson
Acumen Management Group

There are plenty of reasons to believe that attending WPC is fun and exciting, because it is. However, to maximize your investment and opportunities, you need to "work" WPC. Here are a few action items to help prepare for, work and follow up on WPC:

  1. Identify and know your top four business challenges and use WPC to look for answers.

  2. Plot your program strategy for your entire week, not on a day-to-day basis.

  3. Plan to attend four breakout sessions a day to avoid burnout.

  4. Understand your transportation from the hotel to the convention center. Use WPC shuttles between the convention center and hotels and pack your daily bags accordingly.

  5. At the end of each day, do a daily  recap of notes, thoughts and action lists.

  6. After WPC, create a priority list of actions. Then, share it with your team and assign tasks and due dates to manage them.

  7. Within two weeks, review all the breakout presentation PowerPoints that you missed as well as all the breakout materials from the sessions that you attended. Contact the presenters for additional information.


Use 'MPN Connect'

Frantzen
Erik Frantzen
B2B Contact, a Microsoft Authorized Marketing Provider

The MPN Connect (formerly WPC Connect) tool can help you accomplish what would ordinarily take months of traveling around the country and thousands of dollars in expenses. With the help of MPN Connect, in just a few days you can meet national partners, strategic vendors, Microsoft contacts and ISVs. You'll want to start today by prioritizing which "categories" of attendee mean the most to you.

The most important areas of the tool to learn about include:

  • your profile,
  • the search tool,
  • setting WPC Connect meetings, and
  • the calendar or schedule.

Your MPN Connect profile is a unique marketing tool, allowing others to find you in a self-contained community with those who have similar needs and are attending WPC to grow their businesses. Communicate to this audience in the same manner you would want to be communicated with and let them know what's in it for them if they connect with you. In fact, you should create a few messages based on the type of contact you are reaching out to and have them ready to cut and paste.

Once you have set up your profile, place a recurring calendar reminder to search for targeted partners each week and get your major appointments set by May or June. Also, be sure to block off in your MPN Connect calendar those weekly calls and other items you can't miss when at WPC. This will save time rejecting meetings that may be requested when you are otherwise occupied.

The MPN Connect tool is great for your post-WPC review. You will have a record of who:

  • met with you,
  • accepted and did not show,
  • declined, and
  • never responded.

You can then drive your follow-up and determine which meetings were worth your time and how you can do better at WPC 2013.


Hit the Show Floor

Hilton
Jeff Hilton
KnowledgeCircles

Microsoft WPC offers the best opportunity of the year to meet and engage with Microsoft employees, and to network with other partners and vendors. The vendor expo, called the Solution Innovation Center (SIC), is one of the best places to do this at WPC. This massive exhibit hall has over 200 partners showing products and solutions from around the world.

Microsoft employees representing each geography, vertical industry, product family and partner program will be on hand to meet with partners. At the SIC you can seek solutions for current challenges, identify opportunities to grow, and enhance your business and build relationships.

Get started by attending the SIC Welcome Reception on Monday, July 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. This is a great opportunity to socialize, make initial contacts and to plan your visit.

Allocate time and come prepared with a plan to help you accomplish your goals.


Get Planning Help

Rabinowitz
Eric Rabinowitz
Nurture Marketing

To wrap this all together, visit AllianceforChannelSuccess.com/IAMCP for a copy of "It's Showtime," a complete guide to the 2012 WPC in Toronto. This free guide contains pre-conference "must do" planning activities, how to get the most out of your WPC experience, and post-conference action items. It also provides helpful hints and a handy checklist so nothing is forgotten.

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