Already Planning for Microsoft Inspire

For anyone within the Microsoft Partner ecosystem, the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) is “the” event of the year to attend each July. There is no better place to connect with experts and practitioners in every Microsoft category, from every region on the planet. I attended my first WPC in July 2010 shortly after echoTechnology had been acquired by Axceler, and we decided to sponsor a booth and use the event to introduce our new SharePoint migration tool.

With Microsoft’s announcement that WPC has been renamed Microsoft Inspire, and following on blog posts on the topic by CVP of the Worldwide Partner Group, Gavriella Schuster (who has provided tremendous support to the IAMCP and other partner activities) and my good friend and fellow IAMCP Seattle-cofounder, Jeff Shuey, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the value of this fantastic event.

Oh, yeah, and because Microsoft was nice enough to include me (twice) in their new promo video Smile

Microsoft Inspire will take place July 9-13, 2017 in Washington DC. Why attend? It is the single greatest opportunity to find, speak to, and engage with other Microsoft partners from every corner of the world. It’s also a place to not just hear from the various Microsoft product teams and sales organizations, but to ask questions and provide feedback.

I’m looking forward to once again attending this event, and expect to see my business grow as a result. But to get real value out of the experience, you need to make the connection between planning and action. If you fail to take action on the ideas and connections you make during Inspire, you’ll lose out on any strategic value from the event.

Whether you’re new to Microsoft Inspire, or going for your 10th time, my advice is the same:

  • Have a plan. 
    Know what you want to get out of the event. That might be a list of target partners, target regions you want to expand into, or technologies you want to better understand so that you can leverage to optimize and scale your business. If you don’t go in with a clearly defined plan, you won’t see the benefits, simple as that.  
  • Keep your focus.

    Inspire is an amazing event. It’s an opportunity to drink from the Microsoft fire hose. I highly recommend that you take notes, and during the event, make sure that the information you’re taking in aligns with your plans. It’s easy to get sidetracked, as there’s a lot happening in the span of  5 days. Focus on what your company needs to adapt to any changes that are underway, and what you need to do to grow.

  • Document your next steps.

    My habit is a nightly assessment, at minimum, where I go back through my notes and the event program, and document as much as possible – the sessions I was able to attend, the partners I met with, observations of competitors and partners and technologies. Refer back to your notes often, and think about ways to expand on the connections you’ve made. I try to identify all of my specific calls to action, so that my post-event activities are crystal clear.

  • Take action.

    So much of success is about follow through. Follow up on your leads, and be specific about your next steps and theirs. Understand the calls to action, and be clear in your communication.

I’m not in sales, but I do admire the mindset many in sales have to follow through with a lead and explore the many different paths a connection at a conference, no matter how brief, can take. You never know where one of these leads could take you — which is one of the fundamentals of IAMCP (international Association of Microsoft Channel Partners). Be clear about what you need, make it known to your connections, and let your connections work for you.

I’m a list guy. I generate outlines of daily tasks, monthly tasks, and then of course my broader annual commitments that I am constantly referring back to, to keep my work streams on track.

Coming out of WPC each year, I always generate a list of contacts to follow up on by phone and email, companies to investigate, content to write, and ideas to share with my team and bring back to my local IAMCP chapter. And in the weeks follow the event, I find myself combing back through my notes, which prompts me to follow up on active and cold leads, and helps me to connect the dots between what I learned and what I am doing today.

Looking forward to the re-branded event next summer. See you in DC!

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and fractional-CMO for revealit.io, tyGraph, and Extranet User Manager.