We caught up with Ian Bourne from Cloud 2020, who’s been attending the Worldwide Partner Conference consistently over the past six years, both as CEO of Cloud 2020 and in previous roles. He really knows his way around the event and has some great advice for other partners who are attending WPC this year:
Make the investment and register, you won’t regret it. Be sure to you follow the rest of these guidelines.
Plan you travel
Book your flights as early as you can. I have been to a WPC event in Toronto before, I know from experience you won’t need a car, as most of the events are all within walking distance. There is also a great shuttle from Toronto Pearson International Airport – the UP express. To stick to your budget, you could consider an apartment rental service as an alternative to the recommended hotels if you haven’t registered soon enough for the UK hotel. Download the UK Digital WPC Guide for more tips on travel, and your UK agenda.
Think about your phone and data roaming
It’s also worth considering your phone contract so you are not landed with a huge roaming bill when you get home. You may need to call new contacts from a different country, or access Maps to find the next event whilst you’re are out and about in Toronto, alternatively you could consider getting a pay-as-you-go Canadian phone.
Plan the sessions
There are hundreds of sessions, so it's great to have an idea of which tracks you want to focus on. If necessary select more than one track, even if this means you appear to be double or triple booked initially. Once you are there you can re-prioritise to fit in with what’s going on around you, the connections you make and the announcements that are made in the plenary.
You will also see that some of the sessions are duplicated, so you may be able to attend a different time if you have a clash. The key thing to remember is that you will not be able to go to all the slots you want to, but keep an open mind to make sure you get the most of the sessions you do attend. Don’t forget to add these to your diary with the connect tool.
Plan to spend time at the Expo Area
I can’t stress this enough! - Put aside some time in your diary to attend the Expo area. This is a great place to meet other suppliers face to face, understand their product or services and how they can support your business. The other great benefit of the exhibition is that you can get ideas around how you may want to develop your own products and services. Grow your own business and make connections while getting up to date with what suppliers are doing.
Make sure you attend the UK Welcome Party
The UK Welcome Party sets the tempo for the rest of the week, you can set up meetings and begin relationships with other UK partners. I have met people there who are now firm friends, as well as creating numerous business acquaintances. You will also get a perspective from the UK team on what you should be doing to make sure you don’t miss out.
Log in to Connect and plan some meetings beforehand
Connect tool is a great resource where you can plan your meetings. Here you can search for, and connect with, anyone in the Microsoft team and partners who are attending. There is a dedicated area for meetings which you can book through this tool, and identify other companies to either set up a meeting or start a conversation with, so make sure your profile is up-to-date too.
Set up a OneNote
Include a section with all of you travel documents, your flight details, your travel visa and your Business Travel Support letter (you can download this from the WPC home page when you are logged in), the map etc., create a section for people you want to meet and connect with, a section on your agenda and slides from the sessions you attend (you can use the “add meeting” tool on OneNote) and most importantly, a section on your follow up actions. This is really key to making the most of your time at WPC, as it’s so easy to forget the context in which you met someone, or announcements you want to follow up on.
Make sure you follow the Microsoft UK social media channels, the team publish any announcements are followed up through Twitter and the Blog as soon as possible. They will also be running another competition through Twitter to win a Surface Pro 4 for UK partner attendees.
Make the UK Lounge your base
If you have any down time, head back to the UK lounge, you never know who you will bump into! It's where all the Microsoft UK attendees will be in-between meetings as well as other UK partners, so a great way to have impromptu meetings over a coffee and charge your phone whilst you're there.
Attend the plenary sessions
The Plenary sessions are hosted for the first 2 hours of each morning, it's where you will see the top people giving the latest information, you will hear the new announcements first, you will see some greats demonstrations and some ground-breaking new technology. Last year I attended the plenary whilst my team were live streaming it back in the UK office, the CSP announcement was such a massive deal for our business, we decided via Skype for Business, to get working on a project around this in real time, putting us months ahead of our competition.
Carry business cards and load up Microsoft Office Lens app
Make sure you have plenty of your own business cards to hand for the new connections you make – you don’t want to miss out on a new business opportunity by simply forgetting to bring your contact details. Don’t forget to download Microsoft Office Lens to your phone to make keeping the info on the business cards easier, you can add these to your contacts as well as to the follow up tab on your WPC OneNote!
Enjoy the Partner Celebration
By the Wednesday night you will have worked really hard and will be well deserving of a time to blow off some steam, it's called a celebration and its exactly that! There’s some outstanding entertainment with Gwen Stafani playing live, plenty of food and drink – a great place to turn a new connection into a new friend.
The UK Regional Session
Don’t forget the UK Regional Session the following day, you may be a bit jaded after the night before, but this final session is the place where the UK team puts everything you have seen over the week into context for you and discuss how we can move forward, it may be the last event of the conference, but probably the most important.
When you get home – follow up!
Make sure you take time out to bring your team up to speed, share links and maximise your experience by seizing new opportunities. This should be easy to do with your follow up notes on your OneNote.