​So we are now just two months away from WPC 2012. This will be my tenth WPC, and over the years I have learned that there are some specific ways to maximise one’s time at the event, and some strategies that make the whole experience more worthwhile.

IAMCP members have long had the benefit of webinars and chapter meetings where we discuss planning and how to make the most of WPC. Even at WPC itself, partners can find help with navigating the event. However, my advice is to take advantage of becoming a member of IAMCP as early as possible so you can tap into this valuable resource. In many cases, joining IAMCP for this reason alone makes the annual membership worthwhile.

That said, I wanted to share with the community some of the key things that make the week so much more productive and efficient and provide some insights on how to maximise your time.

  1. Plan ahead. Make time in the weeks prior to WPC to plan your schedule and, in particular, your networking activity. Log on to digitalwpc.com at least once a week to check your schedule. Also plan time after WPC to follow up with the wealth of information and contacts you’ll collect.
  2. Prepare template emails and follow-ups before you get to WPC. If you need to send emails during WPC week, a template will help save time. However, remember that WPC is an exceptionally busy week for everyone. They are likely to be bombarded with email during that week. In many cases a follow-up the week after WPC may get more visibility and gain you more traction. For that reason I only send email to prospects or contacts that week if it’s extremely important to do so or if it was agreed that you would.

  3. Make good use of your phone. Scan/photograph business cards as you get them. Cards get lost, so having a record on your phone—along with date/timestamps to help you recall when and where you spoke to that person—can be a lifesaver. Link your album or contacts to a shared SkyDrive folder to share contacts with people back at the office.

  4. If you plan to do a lot of networking and use WPC Connect for meetings, I highly recommend that you invest in a Livescribe Echo pen (see http://www.livescribe.com/en-gb/smartpen/echo/)—and no, I am NOT on commission! These pens are around $140 from Amazon and are well worth it. They allow you to record a conversation/meeting and just take bullet points. Then you can replay the conversations from that point in the discussion just by pointing to the bullet point. That way, you can focus your attention on the discussion with your colleague or prospect instead of taking reams of notes. “Appearing” focused on the conversation will be more impressive to the person you are speaking to, and make you more memorable (especially when days are filled with more than a dozen 15-minute meetings). I now use this in ALL my meetings and wouldn’t be without it. I recommend the 4 GB version—the battery lasts all day (and night) before needing to be charged via USB port. Plus, all text/conversations can be transferred automatically when you dock to your laptop/PC.

  5. Arrive early. Arrive on the Friday or Saturday so you have time to familiarise yourself with the area around your hotel, the location of the Air Canada Center, and downtown Toronto. Pin the key locations to the map on your mobile phone.

  6. Prioritise. You can’t attend every event. Many tracks and sessions run simultaneously. Look for sessions that might be repeated (some are) or recorded and made available for later viewing. Usually, business leadership sessions are not recorded (due to copyright or other contractual reasons). If it’s important for you to get technical feedback or ask questions or meet a certain speaker, you should of course make those sessions a priority.

  7. Don’t try to attend EVERY evening event. Some will be specific to your region or competency, or you may have invites to vendor-specific activities. Choose those likely to have the most people that you want to meet. Focused events may be smaller but more productive. Try not to “party hop”—you’ll spend more time getting to and from events than you do engaged in productive discussion. Have fun, of course, but remember this is primarily a business event.

  8. Attend the WPC Reception on Sunday evening—this is a chance to meet with peers and engage in conversations with other partners. Talk to people. WPC is not the place to be shy! Remember, everyone is in the same boat—some of the most surprising (and profitable) outcomes came from impromptu conversations that I started with someone I did not know before. Also, the IAMCP Welcome reception (Room 718AB in the Convention Center) on Monday evening is a great event to mix with people from your own and other regions and meet some of the key Microsoft people. It’s a great place to find out more about the IAMCP by talking to other members. Lastly, involve yourself in the Day of Giving activities—they are so much fun and a great way to meet new people while doing something worthwhile for the community. IAMCP will again be a sponsor for Day of Giving this year.

  9. Pace Yourself. Mornings are early and the nights are late. Be prepared. This is the busiest week by far for all the Microsoft partners I speak to. Get lots of rest the week before and drink plenty of water during the daytime. Avoid dehydration.

  10. Decide why you’re going to WPC. Is it for networking, technical education, to raise your profile with Microsoft staff, gain more knowledge of MPN, build a partner sales channel, or something else? Whatever the reason, good planning will help your investment in WPC pay for itself many times over. 
There is so much more I could tell you about WPC—maybe I’ll do that in a future blog post. For now, please note these resources that may help you:
  1. Monitor the #WPC12 and #IAMCP Twitter hashtags. Also follow @WPC, @mspartner, and @IAMCPOrg.

  2. Review the digitalwpc.com and iamcp.org websites for more information.

  3. Watch for events and webinars about WPC planning and attendance. There is one on Thursday, May 10​ (12:00 – 1:00 PM Central Time). 
There will be several others at intervals in the run-up to WPC. Many of these will be at local IAMCP chapter meetings. Check IAMCP.org for your local chapter information and for events. For any queries, send email to info@iamcp.org.

Have a great time at WPC. This year’s event will be the biggest and best ever. I am privileged to be part of the greatest partner ecosystem and to be able to meet with and work with some of the best and most innovative companies in the world at this event. I can’t wait for July!

On a final note, I am always interested to hear from partners about their experiences with Microsoft, success stories, and aspirations for their businesses. Of course I will be there in my capacity of representing my own partner companies, and also IAMCP. Please feel free to touch base with me prior to WPC—my LinkedIn profile is http://uk.linkedin.com/in/kelvinkirby.

Thanks,

Kelvin Kirby

CEO Technology Associates International, UK

(a Microsoft partner with Gold competencies in PPM, ISV, and Application Integration, and eight Silver competencies)

For more information about IAMCP’s activities, send email to info@iamcp.org. To join IAMCP, go to www.iamcp.org.​