As the owner of a new company, I have been to a few conferences before but nothing I experienced could prepare me for the 2013 Worldwide Partner Conference. It goes without saying that it was my first time and I was overwhelmed… in a good way.

I started my company last March and became a Microsoft Partner by mistake. I literally tripped into it! As a SharePoint and InfoPath developer, I wanted to start a SharePoint and InfoPath consulting, development, and training company. I was looking into obtaining SharePoint Enterprise edition for myself. Let me tell you… as a new small business, I could not afford it but, luckily, I tripped over Office 365 and was floored by its tremendous functionality and value. I signed up as a Microsoft Partner and a Microsoft Cloud Partner, added reselling and developing in the cloud to my repertoire, and the rest is history.
I found out about the D.C. chapter of the International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP) from Steve Hall of District Computers and, after attending a few meetings, joined in January. Steve also suggested that I go to WPC. He said that the connections I would gain there and the things I would learn would be a great benefit to my young company and he was not exaggerating! The things I have learned and the connections I formed are greatly helping my business.
When I arrived and attended my first day, I was amazed and overwhelmed. It was like Disney with so many things to see and do… so many people to meet and I didn’t know where to start. And yes, I floundered my way through the entire experience, but my fellow IAMCP members were there to help me, so I was not flummoxed too badly. I learned A LOT! I got to see the Microsoft roadmap and learn about things I knew nothing about like CityNext, which was nothing short of awe-inspiring. I also met LOTS of new people from other companies as well as from Microsoft. I got to meet people like @VFIOrg, @Office 365, @JTimbre, and @WhyMicrosoft with whom I have a Twitter relationship or others who follow me which was awesome! Another thing that happened, that was least expected, was that I cemented relationships that I was already building with partners in my area—a nice little bonus. AND I had SO MUCH FUN and, although I got very little sleep, I really didn’t notice much (until I got home) because I was so jazzed on all of the energy and synergy!
So what are my lessons learned from this experience? Well, let’s see:
  • Make sure you have water. You will be thirsty with all of the walking around. Don’t worry about food. It will be everywhere!
  • Have on comfortable shoes. I was so glad I wore my teaching shoes, but my feet were still achy by the time I went to bed every night.
  • Prepare by looking over the schedule but keep an open mind. Things are in constant motion and you may find spending time with a potential partner is worth missing a session or two.
  • NETWORK for all you are worth and as if your life depends on it. As a new and/or small business, your business life may “depend” on it. The potential to make new Microsoft contacts, friends, and partners is nearly endless. Make it count.
  • Visit the booths, especially IAMCP.
  • Look into scheduling a meeting with Microsoft employees. Take advantage of the one on one time.
  • Bring a power cord or, better yet, a portable charger or two for your phone and other devices. I can’t tell you how many times I was pinned to a wall waiting for my phone to charge.
  • Bring your energy. There is a lot to do and see and lots of people to meet (and not a lot of sleep).
I must say I am excitedly looking forward to attending WPC 2014! I am sure it is going to be a blast! I hope to see you there!
Nikkia Carter, CEO/Owner, Carter-McGowan Services, LLC, King George, VA
Twitter – CarterMcGServ​