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Events like Microsoft Inspire are an incredible opportunity to meet new partners and make the connections that will help deliver on your business goals for years to come. But it’s difficult to create the relationships that matter if you’re not already skilled in the art of networking. Here is a little insight into how you can grow your network and make connections at Microsoft’s biggest partner event.

A Singular Experience

Microsoft Inspire is truly unlike any other partner event on the market today. The learnings and the opportunities planned simply cannot be found anywhere else. Past events have seen attendance exceeding 16,000 partners, Microsoft employees, and industry experts from 139 different countries. I am not exaggerating when I say there is no other event like it. Here’s a look at what the networking experience at Microsoft Inspire is really like:

Networking Tips to Help You Connect

If networking at big events like this doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t let that stop you from making the most of your many opportunities at Microsoft Inspire. Here are a few of the most impactful tips I’ve come across in the hopes that they will help you make the most of the event.

1. Lead with a smile

Networking is serious business, to be sure. But not leaving your counterpart with a positive feeling from the interaction is a failure on your part. Always begin a new connection with a smile, good eye contact, a strong handshake, and a pleasant and respectful demeanor. Those first impressions do matter.

2. Tell a story

Storytelling is one of the most memorable and impactful forms of communication. If you want your connections to remember who you are and what you stand for, use a story to tell them.

3. Leave with more than a business card

At big events like Microsoft Inspire, you can be sure that anyone you talk to has picked up dozens of business cards just like yours. A card is hardly enough to remember you by, so make sure you leave them with more than that. Consider scheduling a follow-up conversation post-event to help solidify the relationship and really start exploring how you can partner together in the future.

Make the Most of Your Networking Opportunities

At Microsoft Inspire, organic networking opportunities are literally around every corner, or at every session you attend. But there are several designed networking opportunities on-site that we expect will be particularly powerful for attendees. Those opportunities include:

The Commons

The Commons is all about making connections. Be sure to add these stops to your check list in order to make the most of your networking experience:

  • Microsoft Central, the place to experience all the latest products, solutions, services and devices directly from Microsoft experts in one-on-one demos, theaters, and hands-on experiences.
  • The Microsoft Partner Experience booth, where interactive conversations, presentations, customer stories, and partner opportunities take center stage. Here you’ll be able to connect directly with Microsoft engineers and support personnel who can answer any questions you have about the Microsoft Partner Network.
  • The Community Hub, a casual setting for partner to partner networking and shared learning. Connect with the IAMCP and WIT communities or dive into theatre sessions on partner identified hot topics such as digital marketing, IoT, AI, security, and much more.
  • Regional Lounges, the next best thing to jet-setting around the globe. Connect with partners in new locations and learn how you can break into new markets in a casual setting open to all.
  • The Expo Hall, where you can connect with sponsors and exhibitors showcasing the most exciting solutions and products on the market today.

Partner Celebration

This year’s Partner Celebration event will offer a wealth of networking activities and interactions at Nationals Park. You won’t want to miss the great music, food, and fun!

Social Media

Use #MSInspire and #New2MSInspire to connect with fellow partners and grow your social network. Additionally, check out the Microsoft Inspire discussion on the Microsoft Partner Community to chat with fellow partners and get any and all of your questions related to Microsoft Inspire answered.

Get Ready with MyInspire

MyInspire is your key to networking success at Microsoft Inspire. With it, you don’t even have to wait to get to Washington, D.C. to start networking. Start using MyInspire today to set up Connect meetings with fellow partners and Microsoft employees. Then use the session scheduler to add your must-see sessions to your calendar. To learn more about using MyInspire, check out the guide for all the details.

Refer a Colleague Today

From June 7th to the 14th, partners who are already registered for Microsoft Inspire can earn US$100 for each person (up to 10) that they refer to register for the event. Better yet, referred partners receive $100 off their All Access pass too. For more details, read the full terms and conditions.

Hopefully, this blog has provided you with several tools and tips to help you make the most out of next month’s big event. I look forward to connecting with you at Microsoft Inspire this July!

What are your most impactful networking tips? Share your thoughts with partners in the comments below.