​The annual Microsoft World Partner Conference is the single best opportunity to connect with Microsoft employees and partners, but can be overwhelming due to its sheer scale. Over 10,000 people usually attend the conference, representing partners of all sizes from different parts of the world. There are so many interesting sessions, keynotes, and potential meetings to schedule that it can sometimes be difficult to know where to begin. Here are my Top 11 WPC tips and tricks for making the most of the conference.

  1. Decide which sessions you’d like to attend before the conference, and limit the sessions that you ‘must’ attend­—WPC is such a great networking opportunity that you will likely find most of your time is spent in meetings.
  2. Use the WPC Connect tool to schedule meetings with Microsoft employees and Partners that can drive your business forward. Don’t waste time on meetings that don’t make sense for your business, regardless of how ‘important’ the person you could meet with is. Save your time and theirs—be ruthless!
  3. When reaching out via the Connect tool, give some context—who are you, why do you want to meet, and what do you bring to the table? Know what you want to accomplish with each meeting. Meetings in the Connect hall are generally scheduled for 30 minutes. By the time all participants are there and ready, you may have only 20 minutes to tell your story and understand what the person you are meeting with can do for you. Be succinct.
  4. You are investing a lot to be at WPC, both financially and in time out of the field. Do everything you can to secure the meetings that are important to you. Leverage reaching out via the Connect tool, PAM, and other relationships and events. Search the speaker bios to see if there are speakers that can potentially help drive your business forward. Don’t be afraid to go up to speakers after a session and tell them who you are and what you are looking for. Generally if they can help you, they will. Make sure that what you are asking is relevant to them.
  5. Bring snacks, wear comfortable shoes, and bring a sweater! You may find yourself in back to back meetings from morning until late at night, and depending on where the food is set up, you may find that the time spent to walk there and back is too great—granola bars can be a great stopgap. While it can be hot outside, the conference centers are often cold, so having an extra layer can be very helpful. And rest assured, you will walk miles every day!
  6. Get social! There’s a whole other conference that takes place via Twitter at WPC—from the zingers and comments during the keynotes, to impromptu tweet-ups, sharing of information with folks not in attendance at WPC, and last year, a private lunch with new Worldwide Partner Group VP Jon Roskill to the first 10 people who responded to a Tweet, there’s an additional dimension to the conference that’s only experienced via social media.
  7. Network – While it can be great to see and catch up with your colleagues, you can see them any time. Talk to everyone else around you, and network, network, network. You never know who you may meet while walking down a corridor, at one of the numerous receptions, before a session, or waiting for a Connect table. You will find partners and Microsoft folks who can help you to drive your business forward.
  8. Bring lots of business cards and a pen. When talking to people, take notes on their business card, and separate the high priority follow-up cards as you receive them. You will collect a large number of cards during WPC, so have two places to store them.
  9. Make friends—bring a power strip! With smartphone battery life being so limited, you will find yourself looking for a place to plug in. While there are generally numerous places set up to power-up, there are never enough plugs. Adding capacity will make you popular and give you an additional opportunity to network!
  10.  The parties—there are generally receptions/meet-ups every night of WPC, with Wednesday night being the big party night when the different segments have their parties. Attend the parties! Have fun!
  11. Sleep—you won’t be doing much of this at WPC. You can anticipate early starts and late nights, and will need the weekend after WPC to recover and get ready to start following up on all the great connections you made at the conference!​