When we made the decision to restart the Seattle chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), it took a couple of months to convince some folks within Microsoft that we were serious, that we were committed. Others had come forward with interest in organizing and supporting the group, but for one reason or another they had gone silent. This is understandable—workloads shift, and where you once thought you had time to dedicate to building the chapter and membership, you suddenly find yourself with other priorities. It’s a lot of work and it requires consistency and effort; but most of all it takes a team.

We started by putting together the formal organization, with the essential roles to build the chapter: president, treasurer, and secretary. We also began to reach out to others within the community to help with the dozen or so areas that needed attention. With the minimal number of board members in place, Microsoft was convinced we were serious and began to throw us their support. With Microsoft on board, we began gaining traction with other community members, quickly getting help from various IAMCP leaders to help us in our initial efforts with membership, structure, and sponsorship.

One great thing about IAMCP leadership is the depth of the pool of resources. With questions on best practices for building a board of directors, I turned to Justin Slagle, Western Regional Chair of IAMCP, the former president and still very active member of the Southern California chapter. He’s also business development director at QuickStart Intelligence, a partner with Gold competencies in Learning, Server Platform, and Business Intelligence. Justin’s advice was simple: invite everyone to participate, and build out the board broadly so that the workload is spread out.

This was great advice, which we are now putting into practice. Each board meeting begins with a status on action items and reporting from each board member and focus area. Each focus area has a committee chair and various committee members (committee size depends on the needs of a particular focus area) who are responsible for reporting each month. At each meeting we outline focus areas where we do not yet have a chairperson and champion, giving those who have recently joined the chapter an opportunity to participate.

Right away we were able to fill chairs for Communications (Owen Allen, Pingar, also the board’s secretary), Website (Carsten Winsnes, ProperSync), Membership (Michelle Cmorey Sense, Robert Half), and Events (Lillian Taylor-Blackmon, Metalogix), with myself as president, Stephane Bennour (Neos-SDI) as vice president, and Jeff Shuey (Kodak) as treasurer. The board is doing its best to fill in the gaps until people take on the areas of need, including Permanent Sponsorships, Monthly Meeting Sponsorships, Awards, Philanthropy, Raffle Items/Giveaways, Logistics, and Marketing.

Due to our proximity to Microsoft headquarters we have two roles that are somewhat unique: committees for Microsoft Advocacy and IAMCP Advocacy. While neither committee has a defined charter at this stage, Microsoft Advocacy aims to help corporate and regional sales and partner-facing Microsoft employees understand what is happening with partners within the Seattle region, and at a grassroots level worldwide. Similarly, IAMCP Advocacy presents an opportunity to play a larger role in helping disseminate information back out to the other IAMCP chapters.

We’re not likely to fill out these committees right away. And that’s just fine. The board is doing what we can to keep all of these areas of focus moving forward, drawing from current membership as people have the time. We’d rather have someone helping address one of the focus areas for two months, if that’s all of the time they can donate, than have nobody address the area at all. Progress is progress, and the idea is to allow people to bring the skills and time that they have, for as long as they can.

Our best practice for other chapters, whether newly formed or well-established, is to follow the same model we did: Provide a framework around the needs of the chapter, invite partners to get involved, and let the skills and interests of the local partner community shape the size and focus of your chapter’s board of directors.

Soon you’ll have momentum—and memberships. And of course, if you’re a partner located in the Seattle area, we welcome you to come and get involved!​