While participating in an MPN Live broadcast last month with Jon Roskill and Kat Tillman (which you can watch here), I articulated an idea on air that I thought was worth expanding online: the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) is an extension of the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC).

 
 
 
One of the goals with any event of this scale is to keep people engaged. It is a principle of marketing that the cost of retaining a customer is much lower than the cost of creating a new customer. Microsoft understands this about their partner community, and is continually looking at ways they can expand the tools, networking, and value of the Microsoft Partner Network. If the real value of WPC—to both Microsoft and the attendees—is the strength, quality and success of the event’s participants (the partner community), then having partners engaged an​d connected throughout the entire year improves the WPC value proposition.
 
 
 
What makes WPC valuable is not just what happens at the event itself and not just the activities that happen in the months leading up to WPC. What makes the conference so valuable are the conversations and connections happening year-round, with WPC acting as both a capstone to the previous year’s work and as a springboard into the new year. That’s why Microsoft has made a significant investment in building out the DigitalWPC website and continues to advance assets such as MPN Live, the partner competency framework, and other tools and events.
 
 
 
Microsoft does a great deal to support the partner community—and it all culminates with WPC, which takes place this year in beautiful Toronto. But it’s the IAMCP that presents the best ongoing opportunity to keep partners engaged and connected year-round. At the beginning of every chapter meeting of IAMCP Seattle, we give people the opportunity to share their partner wins. Of course, we highlight wins that came as a result of activity in the chapter or through other IAMCP connections. But we’re also sure to welcome partner-to-partner success stories however they came about. The meetings are a great venue for news and information sharing from other chapters around the country. In fact, members from other chapters who happen to be visiting the Seattle area are encouraged to attend our meetings. With new members and chapters being added all the time, we’re steadily increasing the potential for business opportunities.

 

 
On that MPN Live broadcast I mentioned earlier, Jon pointed out that fellow guest Kevin McMillen, CEO of Utah-based RyanTech, was the only panelist not involved in IAMCP. While on the air, we invited him to get involved (After all, peer pressure is a powerful force!). Following the broadcast, Kevin and I exchanged cards, and later, I introduced him to our IAMCP Western Regional Chair, Justin Slagle, letting him know that Kevin was interested in helping get a Utah chapter off the ground. Two weeks and multiple emails later, more and more companies are interested in participating. Pretty soon we should have another operating chapter in the western states. This is an exciting development, and it’s sure to open up new opportunities for all of us in the region. Having worked and attended school in Utah, I have a personal and professional interest in seeing the Beehive State come online with the IAMCP. Based on my experiences in Seattle, I know this new chapter will be good for business for all who participate, and by extension will provide a stronger global network.
 
 
 
People attending WPC will walk away from the event with more knowledge, new connections, and most likely one or more new partnerships. Will they all put into action the ideas and initiatives they envisioned while in Toronto? Maybe. Experience tells me that the monthly meetings of their local IAMCP chapters will reinforce those learnings, and encourage people to follow up on any action items. And for those who are unable to attend WPC, your local IAMCP chapter is a great opportunity to learn from those who did go to the conference, and leverage those best practices and connections for your own company.
 
 
 
IAMCP really should be viewed as an extension of WPC, and vice versa. My advice is to make both a part of your partner strategy this year.​