The upcoming Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) taking place in Washington D.C. in July will be my 5th WPC, and one thing I’ve learned about attending – and taking full advantage of – this fantastic event is to start planning early. WPC is one of the most important events you’ll attend all year, and by attending to some details beforehand, you’ll be positioned to make the most of your WPC experience.
  1. Register for the event.

    Don’t wait to register. Day passes and Expo Only passes are available for those who can’t attend the entire event. Microsoft was also kind enough to provide an email template to send to your manager to help you make the business case for attending – just scroll down to “Popular Downloads.”

  2. Book your hotel.

    Space will fill up quickly, pushing you further and further away from where all of the action is. Of course, Microsoft does a great job of organizing shuttle buses for all of the official event hotels, but personally, I prefer the convenience of being close to the event venue. On the DigitalWPC website under the Register tab, there is a link to the Logistics page which provides a nice infographic on the D.C. region, a list of airlines with event discounts available, and a map of all of the WPC2014 hotels.

  3. Build out your Connect profile.

    Another link on the DigitalWPC website is to the official Connect site – your community connection not just for WPC, but to connect with other partners all year long. Whether or not you have registered for WPC, you can go in and build a profile (using your Microsoft ID) and start connecting with other partners. Microsoft has built out Connect with new social tools on top of SharePoint, allowing you to more easily search and find partners based on their profiles, and to start connecting early. Be sure to update your profile and then leave a "Hello World" post to let everyone know who you are and the kinds of partnerships you are interested in developing.

  4. Update your PinPoint company profile.

    Microsoft’s PinPoint site has been revamped, so make sure you go in and provide details of your latest certifications, apps and services, locations, and a current company overview. For many partners, Pinpoint can be a major source of net-new traffic, as customers and other partners can search on competencies and certifications, product names, and by region, so be sure to keep this site up to date as your company grows.

  5. Let your local IAMCP chapter know your plans.

    If you are not already a member of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), then take a few minutes to visit the website and learn more. Membership cost is nominal and gives you instant access to thousands of partners worldwide, all for the sole purpose of peer-to-peer networking. You can easily search for your local chapter​ – or, if there is no local chapter, you can get help from the leadership team and other chapters to launch a new chapter, which is a great way to put yourself and your company in the spotlight. You can also join the Yammer conversation with other IAMCP members.

  6. Start scheduling meetings.

    Even though WPC is a couple months away, it’s never too early to log in, connect with people, and start planning out your meeting schedule. In fact, if part of your WPC strategy is to have some face-time with Microsoft product team members and other leaders, the earlier the better to get on their calendars. Start reading through profiles, making connections through the Connect tools, starting up conversations through LinkedIn and other social networking platforms, and build your WPC strategy.

It’s never too early to start planning – and it’s certainly never too early to begin networking. I hope this information helps you get a running start. And I hope to see you in D.C. in July!