I wear my 10 Year Gold pin with pride! I was pleasantly surprised to see a special pin to recognize partners who have attended over 10 WPC’s (this was my 12th).   When I first pinned it on, I didn’t realize what an impression it was going to have. But several people commented when they noticed and it became a spark, driving so many terrific conversations. We reminisced around past WPC’s, the exceptional growth the partner eco-system has experienced and how WPC has evolved into the largest business networking event in the Microsoft ecosystem.  It was amazing to learn that sixteen thousand attended this year!

Why attend? ~Because networking works!!

Here is my quick recap of this year:

Sessions, keynotes, breakouts and roundtables were motivating and educational. I had the privilege to present with Gail Mercer-MacKay Creating a Buzz on Shoestring Budget mercermackay.com. The room was packed and the audience was engaged. We begin with some facilitated networking at the start to make sure that people got to connect with each other. We only had one person leave and he returned at the end to apologize for needing to step out for a call, asking us for a copy of our slides. In survey results we ranked #1 in the interactive sessions for the Leadership and Sales Track but there were so many others whose ratings were almost identical to ours. What this tells me is that the time that Microsoft invests in qualifying, coaching and reviewing the speakers and their content (yes, we went through a long process before our session was stamped with an approval seal) is working. The content presented is what partners want to hear.

Want to Grow Your Channel?

In addition to getting tips for marketing, another must attend session was Corrine Sharpe’s Building Partnerships to Scale your Business sharp-perspective.ca. She had a lot of interaction and the attendees provided excellent insights. My only disappointment was that so many great sessions overlapped – there simply wasn’t enough time to get to everything I wanted to attend. Plus a not to miss is the Women in Technology (WIT) Luncheon and Panel discussion womenintechnology.org.

Networking, the Connector tool is getting better, and I found the 30 minute meetings to work surprisingly well.  There were plenty of empty tables when I frequented the Connector area, however when setting up the original meeting appointment I often found no tables were available, so this surprised me.  TIP FOR NEXT YEAR – If you are setting up a meeting and no table is available, use the “other location option” and plan to meet at the entrance to WPC Connect. That way you can simply grab a free table or sit in one of the networking lounges that are scattered throughout the floor. Networking with the IAMCP iamcp.org chapters in the Regional Lounges was terrific.  I met folks I worked with only on the phone, now in person it was terrific.

Business ROI, for some partners WPC is the largest investment for their fiscal year MS partnership budget, and that is certainly true for TKG. This has always been a high return on investment. I have never walked away from WPC without more business than my investment – and this has also been true for the partners I represent at WPC. New revenues generated, pipeline and branding awareness but as well, the intangible ROI cannot be ignored. It delivers a renewed energy in Microsoft partner eco-system, the evidence of partner to partner success, and seeing so many of TKG clients in thriving business and partner relationships. And most of all my beloved and new personal relationships.

Parties, too many to attend, but I do try and encourage you to find a few, because that is really where the relationships begin, and you have no idea who you can meet over a cocktail.  Even the lobby of your hotel at the end of the day can be a great place to see old friends and meet new ones.

For any partner in the Microsoft ecosystem, WPC is YOUR business networking event for the year.

Planning for next year already—see you in Orlando