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How Partners Can Build Business with Microsoft Community Connections

Building connections with your community through presentations to business and professional groups is not a new idea, but it's still a good one. There is no better way to position yourself as an expert in the eyes of your prospects than to show them how you can improve their business. Combine that with a partnership with the sponsor organization, like the Chamber of Commerce, and you have a powerful combination.

Microsoft's Community Connections Program
The Microsoft SMB team has made some adjustments to the Microsoft Community Connections (MCC) program -- which we've written about before -- to make it easier for partners and organizations to engage. The program helps partners connect with local professional organizations and deliver educational presentations.

Program materials and guidelines are posted on the MCC Web site. Organizations can sign up to request an event and will be paired with a partner if they don't already have a connection. The MCC team will follow up with the organization and then use Microsoft Pinpoint to find partners in the area with the appropriate expertise, or they'll pull from a list of MCC alumni partners.

Cindy Bates, vice president of the U.S. SMB organization at Microsoft, highlighted MCC's value to partners, saying, "Microsoft Community Connections helps Microsoft partners reach more small and midsize business customers in their community by hosting technology-based events with local business organizations, like Chambers of Commerce. MCC enables partners to share their expertise and connect with new customers who are seeking insights and solutions to address various technology needs. This connection point, in turn, generates increased sales leads for our partners. Last year, MCC efforts helped more than 1,200 partners engage with 225,000 customers. Feedback from partners has been extremely positive; nearly half of our partners are choosing to hold even more sessions with local business organizations."

Demonstrate the Benefit for the Organization
While the MCC program will give you the tools to deliver the presentation, it still may take some work to convince an organization to invite you to present. Some organizations, especially those in small communities, are always searching for event presenters and will jump at the chance if you offer a Community Connections program.

But it won't always be so easy and you should take the proactive approach to show the benefit for the organization. There are several ways that you can demonstrate this, including:

  • Offer to promote the organization to your customers with a newsletter announcement and posting on your Web site.

  • Feature a local business as a case study in your presentation to show the real value of the solution, not just the technology.

  • Make it easy for the organization to promote by providing a description of the content for their Web site and newsletter. Focus on the value to their membership.

Above all, focus all of your communication and the presentation on the value to your audience, not yourself. The best way to maximize the value to your business is to prepare thoroughly (practice the presentation) and present with confidence.

Have you held a Community Connections event? Tell us about it in the comments section below or e-mail me and let's share the knowledge.

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Posted by Barb Levisay on December 15, 2011 at 11:57 AM


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