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Each year Microsoft holds a global conference for its partners, now called Inspire. There is a good chance if you work for a Microsoft Partner someone from your business will be attending. If you don’t work for a Microsoft Partner but do use Microsoft technologies, whoever you deal with is very likely to be attending.

It’s a week where Microsoft talks about its vision of the future and where they are up to on their transition to the cloud. DDLS CEO Mal Shaw and Alliances Director Gary Duffield will be making the journey to represent DDLS.

This year Gary has been invited to talk at one of the sessions. If you are going, look out for him on the Sunday pre-day leadership team session. As a veteran of many Microsoft conferences stretching back to 1999, Gary has compiled his top tips for getting the most out of the event.

Top tips for a stress-free inspired Inspire:

  • At least download the conference guide for light reading on the plane. From buses to WiFi passwords, you’ll find the answer.

  • Get Social. You invest a lot to be there, use the channels open to you to find other attendees and demonstrate to your clients that you are in with the in crowd. Follow and contribute using #MSInspire, #mspartner, #New2MSInspire. Start before you board your flight. Copy @GaryDuffield in so I feel special.

  • This may sound a bit trivial, but before you go, change your passwords. It’s so much less stressful than trying to do it on a mobile device – and often you can’t.

  • If there are optional competency or country trips, sign up. They are a great way to see some of the host city and meet other partners. If there is country-specific attire, collect it, wear it. It makes hunting out fellow country partners easier.

  • You are going to meet a lot of people at Inspire. You’ll need your elevator pitch. Maybe two. Who you are, who you work for, what you do and the USP….“My name is Gary Duffield, I’m the Alliances Director at DDLS. We help organisations achieve their potential through consulting and skills development…. and we won the 2016 Learning Partner of the Year award….”

  • Be selective with accepting meeting requests. Yes, it’s good to talk, but to skip a relevant session to have someone do a full-on pitch for a product that’s so left of field isn’t a great use of your time.

  • Check that any proposed meeting you may get sent don’t clash with the killer session, the one you really want to see. I work for a learning business but often get requests for meetings to talk about, say, reselling .Net development tools.

  • Did you know you can add two time streams to your Outlook calendar? This is really useful for working out which session you have to be in at 3am home time. File>Options>Calendar.

  • Don’t expect to get a purchase order from the above meeting, not yet anyway.

  • Follow up. There are a lot of people at WPC, sorry, Inspire. I have lifelong friends all over the world now thanks to this event. Be sure to share business cards – and connect on LinkedIn. Make sure your profile is up to date, people will be checking you out.

You can read the full piece on Gary’s LinkedIn page.

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