The long wait for Microsoft Inspire 2019 is almost over. You’ve probably turned your attention to people you want to see, what to cram in your suitcase and figuring out whether you can squeeze a Boyz II Men show into your jam-packed schedule.
Like many of you, this is my first time flying to Microsoft Inspire and I’m diving headfirst into making sure that I’m prepared to make the most out of the experience.
I sat down with some of the ‘Inspire experienced’ members of the Fifty Five and Five team to bring you (and me) some much-needed advice. Read on to hear their favourite bits and top tips to get the most value from this year’s Microsoft Inspire.
Microsoft Inspire is just around the corner. You’ve all been before, so you have an idea of what to expect. But what’s really getting you excited about this year?
Laura: It’s tough to narrow it down to just one thing! I can’t wait to see what new technologies Microsoft and the partners unveil this year. Last year they demonstrated how VR is set to change the way businesses interact with one another and it blew me away. I can’t wait to see what tricks they have hidden up their sleeves this year.
Chris: This year is especially exciting for Fifty Five and Five. We’ve released the highly anticipated fifth edition of our Microsoft Partner Digital Marketing Excellence report. It’s been a busy year and the hard work has paid off. It’s filled with the latest marketing analysis and insights across the entire Microsoft Partner Network, and I’m looking forward to meeting the companies that made it into top 250.
People reading this blog may not have been before. What can they expect?
Paulina: If you can keep your eyes open and don’t have an aching jaw by the end of Microsoft Inspire then you probably haven’t done it right. You get to meet so many people from all over the world and you gain a real holistic view of the Microsoft community.
Laura: Meeting so many people from the community really gives you a chance to feel involved and to make the most out of it you have to really immerse yourself in the experience.
Chris: On a literal level, be prepared for blistering heat, the welcoming but sometimes overwhelming blast of air con, and the copious amounts of coffee you’ll be drinking. The days are long but incredibly fulfilling.
Pretend this is your first time attending Microsoft Inspire. What advice would you give yourself?
Stephen: Stock up on sleep before you get there. As much as you can. You’ll be spending so much time networking, checking out conferences and just hanging out on your feet. Forgetting to sleep is a real possibility.
Paulina: Bring a notepad to take notes about the people you meet, it helps to remember who you talked to and what was interesting about that person. And don’t forget to wear comfy shoes since you’ll most likely be on your feet all day. Save the heels for the evenings.
Chris: I’m doubling down on both of your suggestions. Get plenty of sleep and wear comfy shoes. Stephen and I will save the heels for the evenings.
What should people remember to take with them to Microsoft Inspire?
Laura: Don’t forget to plan ahead with a to-do list. Set reminders for the sessions you think are most relevant to you. So much is going on that it can be easy to lose yourself and miss out. I’ve planned for this year, but I’ve left some time for surprises! There really is so much to do.
Chris: Comfy shoes. I cannot stress how much hard work it is
Stephen: Get your hands on a schedule and a map of the expo hall and read up on the partners and people you’re interested in seeing. Make sure to organise a meeting with them or if they’re exhibiting, find out where their stand is so you can introduce yourself.
We know every year is a massive learning experience. What lessons did you take away from last year’s Microsoft Inspire?
Chris: The biggest thing I learn every year is how massive Microsoft Inspire really is… spatially. It always surprises me just how easy it is to wander around endlessly and getting lost is an absolute certainty. But I’ll agree with everything you’ve all said. Preparation is key. So, plan the sessions you want to visit in advance, figure out which clients you want to meet, and arrange the work you need to get done. Once you arrive, you blink, and it’s over.
Paulina: I’d say turn your introductions into an elevator pitch. Learn how to introduce yourself in 10-20 seconds. It’s really useful to have a concise answer for when you get asked what you do or where you’re from. You can guarantee you’ll repeat your name so much that you’ll get bored of hearing it.
Laura: On a personal level, I really learned to get out of my comfort zone and to get more involved and familiar with Microsoft and the partners. As a marketing expert, my job is to master the best possible ways of marketing our clients’ services. That’s not possible without an in-depth knowledge of the technology. Microsoft Inspire is 100% the best place to do that. It’s why I’ve crammed more technical sessions into my plan.
Finally, what are the absolute packing essentials?
Laura: I consider myself a coffee addict, so I’ll be taking coffee, and lots of it. They had great coffee last year but I’m risking nothing and taking my favourite brand. Come and find me at stand #616 if you need a top-quality cup of joe!
Paulina: Take comfortable shoes, a notepad and pen and a copy of the Microsoft Top 50 report!
Stephen: Take a nice big water bottle and some lip balm. Your lips crack like dry sand in all that air conditioning combined with the talking you’re going to do!
Chris: I think you all know what I’m going to say. Comfy shoes!
The fifth edition of our Microsoft Partners Digital Excellence Top 50 Report will be released at Microsoft Inspire on July 14th. Come and say hello and pick up your hard copy at Microsoft Inspire. You can find us at stand #616. We’d love to meet you.
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