It is a few days to the start of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), and partners are getting ready to descend on my home town of Toronto. As a cloud service provider who drives their business through and with partners – this conference provides Concerto with the opportunity to take four days to focus on just that – the art of partnership.
A conference such as WPC is certainly what YOU make of it. The perfectly profiled partner just doesn’t gracefully fly into your booth with an immediate requirement to do business together. This is a ‘roll up your sleeves’ kind of experience – where satisfaction only prevails if you’ve used blood, sweat and tears to identify a ‘meeting of the minds’ with a few partners out there.
After attending and exhibiting at the conference for over 14 years, I thought I’d outline the four elements of a successful WPC from a partnership perspective:
1) Don’t underestimate the pre-work: Microsoft has a great ‘Connections’ site with an opportunity to profile your company and yourself, and actually create official meeting times to connect with prospects. Leverage this interface! You will show up and see hundreds of table conversations happening. Make sure you get yourself the set of conversations you want during those days. By connecting prior and setting up official meeting times, you are avoiding the randomness of such a large conference. How many times have we said, ‘let’s meet for a coffee at the conference’ – and it has never happened. Be PLANFUL! It will reward you.
2) Don’t ignore the Expo theatre sessions: Let’s be clear- the keynotes each morning are the time that you’ll get your fill of Microsoft product road maps, partner program updates, innovative demos, and insight into the future. However, lots of sponsors will be presenting theatre sessions with some very practical and specific topics. For example, our Chief Cloud Officer is spending 20 minutes, 3pm on the Tuesday of WPC, talking about cloud service level agreements and how they are in no way created equal. His presentation is chocked full of tidbits of information that you can get to incorporate into your own cloud strategy. Look across the theatre schedule and try and get to a few that make sense for you. Here you’ll find some great thought leadership that you can leverage.
3) Look for more than tchotchkes at the Expo: As a gold sponsor at WPC this year, along with many other partners – we have spent months making sure that our booth space reflects our brand and our core value proposition. Sure we have some unique giveaways and experiences, but intention for all partners first and foremost is to connect at a business level. Create some carved out time for yourself to explore the Expo and spend some time at companies that align to your current business strategy. Often the senior leadership of the organization are right there in the booth space – and it represents a safe place to ask any questions that you have. Not just about their value proposition but about market and industry. Yes it may mean you will get a follow up email thanking you for your visit and if you’d like more details from us – but that’s where the beauty of ‘unsubscribe’ comes to play. At the end of the day, it’s in your and our best interest to make connections that can help you do business.
Have some fun! Some of the best business discussions that I’ve personally had at WPC have been in the middle of a party. Talking over the music and people – but making a connection that evolves to a follow up email and phone call to talk business. And after all – after 12 hours of ‘business’, blowing off some steam in a great city sounds pretty good to me! And for those US attendees – an extra thirty cents on your dollar can go a little further over those four days!
For more information on Concerto’s participation at WPC 2016, click here.