Attend a conference, win some stuff. Nothing brings in the masses like a promise of prizes at the end of the day. Just fill out your surveys, participate in the dialog, scarf down some free food, and then wait at the end for a possible door prize.
Except this was actually a really great conference. Highlights for me were seeing my former GM, Anna Collins (Client Service Operations under Microsoft Advertising), in what was unmistakeably her finest presentation to date, and the energetic-and-unabashedly-confident Bob Kelly (Server & Tools) share his thoughts on what it takes to get things done within Microsoft. I have to applaud the MEC team and organizers for pulling together a well-run and viscerally satisfying first annual conference.
The challenge next year will be to not just repeat, but to do something new and interesting. Maybe live feedback online, rather than insist on killing some trees and pushing forms around. Why not have people blog about things while live? During the event, I pushed out a couple status updates via Twitter, and also passed along some tidbits to my team. I think some kind of focused effort (a la Scoble techniques) would add a lot to the event. But again, some thought went into this area, with live broadcasts reaching people logged in in 17 different countries. Not sure of the final count, but I believe we had 900 managers attending, whether in person on through the web.
And at the end of the day, I stood next to fellow manager Walter Poupore, who leads the documentation team who I work with on the adCenter API, waiting for the results of the raffle. The giveaway included a couple of Zunes (I already own two, but hey, who can't use another?) and several of the brand spanking new HTC Touch Diamond phones, which apparently rival (and beat) the iPhone in most measurements. As the raffle gets underway, I share with Walter that I have no interest in a phone, as my Motorola Q is about 3 months old (my second). So....what do I win? Yep. The phone. I need to check with my provider to see if its even an option for me to switch over to. Not sure what that does to my plan. I'd need a new car charger, new belt clip, etc etc. Hmm...methinks some soul searching is required here.