WPC 2015 in Orlando was my first Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, and my experience was a pleasant and memorable one. I had guidance from my team on what to expect at the conference, and tips for just about everything. In spite of all my preparation, I was still overwhelmed by the magnitude of WPC, and many other first-time attendees I spoke with shared that feeling.
If you are heading to the 2016 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto (WPC 2016), and this will be your first conference, here are information and tips that may be helpful to you for planning your attendance and preparing for WPC 2016.
Leading up to and throughout WPC 2016, the US Partner Team will be sharing US Partner attendee information on our @wpcus Twitter channel. You should also follow #wpc16 and #new2wpc.
First-Time Attendee program at WPC 2016
If you indicated that you were a First-Time Attendee (FTA) when you registered and indicated interest in the mentorship program, by now you should have received an email introducing you to your mentor. Your mentor is someone who is a seasoned WPC attendee and who can answer your questions about the conference.
At WPC 2016, there is a First-Time Attendee meetup and two sessions that will help you make the most of your conference attendance:
- Sunday, July 10 from 2:30PM–5:30PM: How to make the most of WPC (Add Session FTA01 to your WPC schedule in Connect)
- Sunday, July 10 from 5:00PM–7:00PM: First-Time Attendee Meetup in the Community Hub, during the Welcome Reception
- Thursday, July 14 from 11:30AM–1:00PM: Post-WPC Roadmap – how to make the most of your WPC learnings (Add Session FTA02 to your WPC Schedule in Connect)
The WPC 2016 Conference Guide will be available for download around the end of June, and offer you a comprehensive look at the conference. We’ll share the link in the MPN 101 Yammer group and on the @wpcus Twitter channel when it’s available.
US Partner experiences at WPC 2016
The US Partner Team is planning these experiences for US Partners at WPC 2016:
US Partner Sessions on Tuesday, repeated on Wednesday
The US Partner Team is delivering six sessions on Tuesday, which will be repeated on Wednesday. On Wednesday, the Weekly Windows Live! webcast will be broadcast live from WPC, too.
Microsoft North America General Session on Tuesday
Judson Althoff, President of Microsoft North America, is hosting the MSNA General Session on Tuesday, July 12 from 4:00PM–5:30PM that features customers, partners, and industry leaders in discussions about digital transformation.
US Partner Celebration at Sound Academy on Tuesday
From 7:00PM–11:00PM, it’s a party for you to celebrate our successes and toast to the year ahead. We’ll provide the transportation to Sound Academy, and the food, beverages, entertainment, fun, and a few surprises when you get there, too.
US Regional Lounge in The Commons at Metro Toronto Convention Centre
The US Regional Lounge will be open throughout the conference during the same hours published for The Commons in the MTCC. In the US Regional Lounge, you’ll find space for small, impromptu meetings, meet members of the US Partner Team, and can relax and recharge a bit, too.
The US Partner’s Guide to WPC 2016 will be available for download around the end of June, and provide a comprehensive look at US Partner experiences. We’ll share the link in the MPN 101 Yammer group and on the @wpcus Twitter channel when it’s available.
Perfect your pitch and start networking now
There will be more than 15,000 attendees at WPC 2016. To make the most of your time at the conference, be prepared to introduce yourself, your company, and your conference attendance goals many, many times.
Decide what you want to accomplish at WPC—is it sales leads, partner connections, Microsoft connections, or all of the above? Craft your pitch accordingly, and start practicing it now. When there are thousands of conversations taking place, you want to make the most impact in the least amount of time. Trust me when I say that if you’re open to it, business conversations happen everywhere at WPC. On the bus, in your hotel lobby, waiting for the Vision Keynotes to start, waiting for a session to start, walking from one session to another, grabbing a coffee or snack—you get my point.
Sign in to WPC Connect and set up your profile, aligned to your pitch. WPC Connect is also where you can build your conference schedule of sessions and meetings. In the People section of WPC Connect, you can search keywords and filter profile information to find other attendees that you want to meet and talk to. Your Connect profile should include the information you want people to know about you so they can find you, too. And, your Connect profile gives you a place to enter links to your Twitter handle, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook profile. It’s a good time to review those profiles and confirm they align to your pitch. Update and refresh them if needed.
Give yourself time to explore
It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind session schedule of WPC: attend the Vision Keynote each morning, then have lunch, then go to sessions all afternoon. Don’t get me wrong—the sessions are great and we share a lot of essential information for partners in them. Review the Session Catalog to find your must-attend sessions, then prioritize those in your Connect schedule.
Then, give yourself time to explore other WPC experiences that are just as valuable as the sessions. Set aside time to visit the US Regional Lounge and the MPN booth, and to walk around the expo. These activities are also opportunities to make new connections and learn new things.
What not to wear
Comfort is key if you want to be actively engaged in the conference from start to finish. Here are my recommendations for what not to wear:
- Uncomfortable shoes. They may go beautifully with your outfit or perfectly match your jacket, but if they can’t keep your feet happy for the many hours that you will be walking and standing during the day and perhaps into the night, leave them out of your suitcase. For ladies who love their high heels, consider tucking a pair of flats in your bag.
- Clothes that cater to a single temperature. Layering is key at WPC – it’s the middle of the Toronto summer, which means hot (and perhaps humid) when you’re outside, with air conditioning cranked up inside. When packing, you’ll want outfits that can be adjusted according to wherever you are during the day, and that can take you into the evening too.
Engage in the #WPC16 and #new2wpc conversation today
The conversation about WPC 2016 is already happening, and it will grow steadily over the next few weeks. Here is where the US Partner Team is sharing information that will help you plan and prepare to have your best conference:
- @wpcus Twitter channel and #wpc16, #new2wpc, and #usatwpc
- WPC 2016 section of the US Partner Community blog
- Worldwide Partner Conference group on the US Partner Community Yammer network
- US Partner Guide to WPC 2016 (available at the end of June)