@msPartner, @StriveForWow, #MSInspire, https://www.linkedin.com/in/dean-armintrout

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To rev up for the partner event of the year – Microsoft Inspire – we wanted to reach out to some of our top partners to hear what they find most inspiring about the conference. We know that the event brings out some of the best opportunities and interactions for partners over the entire year, which is in part why Microsoft Inspire means so much to us. Here are some insights into why it means so much to our partners as well.

What’s So Inspiring About Microsoft Inspire?

The name “Inspire” itself really encompasses everything that this event is all about. When we think about the inspiration that partners get from Microsoft’s flagship partner event, what’s top of mind is often big name keynotes and sessions that fill an auditorium with attendees. But there’s really so much more to the experience that leaves partners excited and eager to bring new ideas back to their businesses.

Microsoft Inspire brings partners together in a big way, helping them connect, interact, and build key business relationships that will help shape the coming year. It’s also about opportunities and innovations, and giving a voice to the latest technologies that are changing the world around us.

“It’s really about finding out what Microsoft’s story is in this reinvention of what cloud means to businesses now and in the future. And it’s also about meeting other inspirational people, gathering together with the best of the best, and sharing learnings and best practices.”

– Dan Scarfe, Founder, New Signature.

How Have Past Events Impacted Your Business?

Dux Raymond Sy, CTO of AvePoint, described a particular example of how his interactions with partners at Microsoft Inspire helped shape his business. Dux said, “When our journey to the cloud began 3 or 4 years ago, there was one particular partner who was quickly adapting to the new subscription model. Because of their agility and seeing how well cloud was working for them, I brought back that insight and now we are fully on board with the cloud. Things like that are extremely helpful. Having a solid role model is inspiring in that it can shape how our business will grow in years to come.

“At the end of the day, past events have helped me to see how others have done it – how they’ve scaled, how they’ve grown. I can then take those learnings back and grow my business as well.”

– Dux Raymond Sy, CTO, AvePoint

What Forums or Sessions Have Been Particularly Helpful in Past Events?

Keynotes are always planned to inspire and motivate conference attendees. There have been several notable sessions at Microsoft Inspire over the life of the event. Sir Richard Branson’s keynote speech from 2011 was particularly impactful to Dux. His message around giving back may well have inspired Avepoint’s philanthropic efforts in recent years. Gail Mercer-MacKay of Mercer-MacKay Solutions said that the panelists at the first Women in Technology session that she attended were in part the inspiration for starting her own business.

“Microsoft Inspire is truly a business knowledge event. It helps develop leadership skills, communication strategies, and so much more. By bringing in some of the top leaders, thinkers, and trainers from around the world, you can get a mini-MBD in 3 days.”

– Gail Mercer-MacKay, President, Mercer MacKay Solutions Inc.

Outside of the big keynote speeches and partner sessions, there are multiple channels for partner interaction at Microsoft Inspire. Each forum has the unique and engaging potential to help build relationships and connect with other attendees. Dux described the three channels that worked really well for him in the past as follows:

  • Practical partner or customer led sessions
  • Informal gatherings such as at the Community Hub
  • Unstructured networking opportunities and after-hour events

He said that his favorite Microsoft Inspire moments where the ones that happened organically, and even said that one of his greatest partnerships turned friendships was born from a chance meeting at a past event.

What Can Partners Expect from Microsoft Inspire 2017?

“So much great information is shared at Microsoft Inspire. I really think that partners are provided with a clear vision of how they will be inspired and motivated throughout the conference. But even more important are the connections you make, because knowing people is half the battle.”

– Christine Bongard, VP and COO, QTS

For partners who have never been to Microsoft Inspire, you can be sure that this year’s conference will leave you with the industry insights and inspiration that will change how you do business. Dan Scarfe suggested that first time attendees and experienced partners should be prepared for key takeaways in terms of new business opportunities in particular. As he puts it, “There are just so many new and different things going on in cloud technology that this is a great opportunity to focus in on the new things you can do as an organization.”
Some of the top recommendations from partners for first time attendees included:

  • Plan out your days hour by hour – Dan said “there are only a certain number of hours and a certain number of people who you want to meet with while you’re there. You should start planning it all out weeks in advance, and get those invites in to the people you want to meet with. Consider planning it all out hour by hour, because when you get there, you’ll likely be just blown away with all the stuff that’s going on.”
  • Set goals – Dux said to “sit down with key leadership to identify your goal for attending Microsoft Inspire. Is your goal to expand your sales channel, or better connect with Microsoft, or even just to learn. Then figure out what needs to happen to achieve that goal.”
  • Think about new partnerships – Christine said that “using Connect meetings to target partners that I want to find and interact with” is crucial. “I reach out to partners in other geographies to show them what we can do to help them grow their system center practice, and learn about what makes them unique in turn.” The Connect tool will be live in the Summer of 2017, but you can start connecting with partners now on the Microsoft Partner Community.
  • Be open to new ideas – Gail said “Don’t be closed minded. If you’ve got your goals down, that’s great. But be open to hearing something that you haven’t even thought of. Like when I went to that WIT session, it’s because I was open to new ideas and new ways of thinking that I am where I am today.”

Be sure to maximize your Microsoft Inspire experience and register before January 23, 2017 for access to extra benefits such as first choice of conference hotels and a discounted price ($1,695) for an All Access pass.

When you register by January 23rd, you will receive an early notification with instructions for making your early hotel selection. Plus, you’ll have the chance to purchase the Priority Hotel Offer, a special pass that guarantees you a spot at one of the closest hotels to the Convention Center and reserved Vision Keynote seating.

All Access pass prices will increase by US$300 on February 1, so register now for the double benefit of saving money and getting early hotel selection.

What are you most excited for with this year’s flagship event? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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