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
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