My name is Candie Mitchell and I am Director of Communications at Bit-Wizards. Bit-Wizards is a Microsoft® Managed Gold Certified Partner and has been a Microsoft Partner for over 13 years. Last year for the very first time, I was able to attend the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC). Attending WPC was a great experience. It is an experience that I feel has had a lasting effect throughout the year for Bit-Wizards, as well as myself. As I reflected on WPC, I began to think about why we had such a great experience and why it had such far reaching effects on our business.
With any good investment there is always some work involved. And WPC is an investment, of time, money and relationships. Taking time to cultivate your partnership with Microsoft throughout the year is vitally important to your company having a fantastic WPC experience. But even more important are the benefits you derive while growing your business in the year following WPC. So to help you out a bit, I have compiled a list of some ways our team at Bit-Wizards has been able to gain the greatest ROI from our yearly WPC investment.
A Microsoft Partnership is a two-way street- you give, they give. That is the true essence of a great partnership. Microsoft wants to know that your company is a responsible and reliable partner who wants to give not just take. Give without the expectation of a return- that’s just good human relationship sense.
Network within Microsoft – WPC gives everyone great opportunities to network and get to know people within the partner network and even the Microsoft organization. Make it a point to meet people who have an interest and invested time in your company’s area of expertise. And don’t just small talk them, find out what you can do to optimize a continued relationship with them – find out how to help them achieve their goals so you can achieve yours (remember #1.)
Align Your Goals – When Microsoft goes “all in” on something – align yourself with their vision as best you can. Find ways that your company fits within their strategic plan for the future. This will keep you at the top of their mind when they are planning events and want partners to participate. Just remember if you don’t “fit” into a program or opportunity, be honest. Don’t do something that does not fit your culture or business model.
The Tax – Everyone knows when you work with large corporations there will always be a “tax.” Something you must do to fit the mold. Sometimes those are just simple routine tasks, sometimes they are arduous and even time consuming processes that are required to maintain that relationship. But it is always worth the effort invested somewhere along the line. And when asked, be willing to give helpful feedback- without griping, that goes a long way in any partnership.
Do Something – I am sure you all remember this one from your mom. Sometimes it is worth taking initiative and doing a little something without being asked. Plan events and invite your partners to participate – after you do the hard leg work. This initiative never goes unnoticed.
Never Play Both Sides – stick with your partner. Don’t pit partners against each other for your benefit. You must have loyalty. You can’t sell HyperV while also trying to sell another virtualization technology. Strategically choose your partnerships. You will not benefit from forming too many partnerships with companies that have competing interests. Rather, it will divide your loyalties and risk your reputation as a partner. In effect you will not be a very good partner to anyone. It really is about quality not quantity.
Be Remarkable – Go the extra mile to maintain relationships with the people you meet at WPC. Taking a few extra minutes to get to know someone on a personal level might give you some ideas on how you can make you and your company “stick” in their mind.
Bit-Wizards has made and maintained strong relationships with partner account managers, partner marketing managers, business development managers and many more – some of which came directly from our attendance at WPC. Each year we attend WPC, we return home with even greater opportunities than we anticipated. Additionally we are able to solidify our current relationships and we create many new ones with the team at Microsoft. Make the most of your Microsoft partnership all year round and you will see some fantastic ROI at WPC!