When you’re a small business – especially a “micro-business” like I am – you’re probably stretched as far as you can go. Money, time, expertise: I pretty much exhaust all my resources on a daily basis, so I’m constantly scouting for ways to make those resources go farther. One of the best ways I’ve found to do more is to leverage my partnership with Microsoft.
 
 
When I first started my business, I was overwhelmed. A partner brought me to a meeting of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP), and when I realized how much knowledge and experience there was to tap into, I started asking questions. Specifically, how do I get my name out there? I got some terrific information that helped me build my business. If you’re looking for ways to build and grow your small business, what I learned may help you as well:
 
Show off your knowledge with demos
 
A partner suggested I share my technical knowledge by conducting webinars and doing demonstrations in Microsoft Stores. He pointed me to Microsoft Community Connections (MCC) website, where I found presentations I could give, already tested and ready to go. I didn’t have to build them from scratch, just add my own flair and contact information! I was able to select a local Microsoft store and choose presentation dates via MCC, and Microsoft even provided free products to give away as prizes. That first demo of Office 365 went really well, and now I conduct demos of SharePoint and Office 365 once a month. I’ve been able to expand into doing webinars as well, and the scheduling flexibility of online presentations is really valuable for my customers and for me.
 
Keep learning
 
There are a lot of training resources available to partners, and that’s really valuable for us micro-businesses. Here are some resources I’ve found and loved:
  • Your local territory manager – This person is there to alert you to events and announcements, so make sure you’re on her radar. Subscribe to the newsletter, ask questions, request demos, and don’t be shy.
  • Local trainings – I’ve participated in multi-day Office 365 trainings and a day-long training on Microsoft Azure. I found these workshops really highlight my strengths and weaknesses and give me tools to leverage one and improve the other. Your territory manager should be able to alert you when these are upcoming.
  • IAMCP and the partner community – I didn’t come from a business background; I’m a developer-turned-business-person. When I first started my business, I didn’t know about operations, human resources, all those things you don’t think about until you run smack into them. But my local IAMCP chapter partners and partners I’ve met networking at events like the Worldwide Partner Conference have been great for helping me learn.
  • Learning Pathways – I’m busy trying to run my business – I don’t have time to spend on training that isn’t going help me. I like Learning Pathways because I can get the basic information on what things are, how the network works, and what’s expected of me. It points me to the next and the next, and I can just click down the row until I finish all of them. Really, all you have to do is pay attention to the videos.
  • Internal Use Rights (IURs) – especially cloud-based. With my action-pack subscription, I can cover five employees, and for some small businesses, that might be everybody! When they use it, they learn it, so use the tools you’re given.
The thing to remember is Microsoft wants all its partners – big and small – to succeed, so if you have a question, chances are the answer is out there and not that hard to find. Familiarize yourself with the available resources like the product portals and the MPN site. And don’t be afraid to tap the huge knowledge pool that is the partner network; just be ready to be tapped back!
 
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