It’s not long until Microsoft’s biggest conference of the year, the newly-titled Microsoft Inspire, and if you’ve got your ticket, you’re probably just as excited as us!
We know how much there is to prepare, pack and polish (elevator pitches/presentations/shoes – circle most relevant) before you go, so to help speed things up, we’ve come up with the “The 10 W’s of Washington DC”. Treat this as your checklist for things you’ll need to pack or remember before and during the conference.
1. Walter E. Washington Convention Centre (plus checking in)
This year Microsoft Inspire will be hosted in Washington DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Centre. It’s a 2.3 million-square-foot facility, which has the largest ballroom in the region and hosts the presidential inaugural balls (so don’t forget your ball gowns).
The convention center is located right in the heart of Washington DC, and a stone’s throw from the White House (just a 19-minute walk).
To get to the conference quicker, it’s worth downloading your Business Travel support letter, which you can get from the Microsoft Inspire registration confirmation page. For non-US visitors, you’ll also need to ensure that you’ve got the correct travel documents, which are outlined on the US Government website.
Once you’ve landed in DC, you can collect your badge at the Airport from the Microsoft Inspire stand, which will save you some valuable time on Sunday!
2. Welcome session
So, after you’ve checked in to your hotel, you’ll want to head to the convention center (we’ll be at Stand #1236, so come and say hello!)
If you have been to Inspire before you’ve probably mastered this bit, but there’s a useful Microsoft Inspire First Time Attendee (FTA) program, which connects you with other first-time attendees and mentors to make sure you have the best time at the conference. You can sign up for this during registration!
We spoke with Microsoft’s Rachel Braunstein who recommends heading to the Tweet Meet session in the Commons from 5pm on Sunday!
If like us, you’ve got clients and other partners to meet, it might be worth getting yourself familiar with Connect, Microsoft’s event planning tool; it will help you make the most of your introduction and interactions from the conference.
Team Fifty Five and Five have attended the annual conference a couple of times before, so we’re Microsoft conference wardrobe-and-footwear experts.
You’ll want to pack any Microsoft Inspire-themed company t-shirts, socks, or any other company ‘swag’ you’ve got to wear. And it might be worth carrying an extra layer in case the air-con is cranked up.
Also, if you get invited to any parties, make sure you’ve got some smarter clothes packed just in case–here’s Fifty Five and Five attending last year’s Microsoft UK James Bond themed event:
4. Workshops and sessions
There are hundreds of sessions at Microsoft Inspire, and we spoke to Dean Armintrout, Director of Partner Marketing & Events, for his advice. He recommends using the Inspire Session planner catalogue to help you to browse and search sessions you might be interested in attending. You can then plan any potential meetings with any partners or customers to make the most of your time.
[N.B. Microsoft’s senior director of partner community marketing Kati Quigley advises being realistic with your schedule so you have some free time for those unexpected and wonderful conversations][mks_separator style=”blank” height=”2″]
Want a tip on a great session to get started? Head over to the Partner Expo on Monday 10th July at 2:30pm where Fifty Five and Five’s Chris Wright will be listing the “Ten ways to create great content”.
5. Women in Technology (Lunch)
With growing success year-on-year, the IAMCP WIT (International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners) Women in Technology have a large presence at Microsoft Inspire. They’ll be hosting the annual WIT luncheon, which gives women from across the globe a chance to connect and discuss the impact they’ve made and the future impact they will make. There will also be a WIT panel discussion. The luncheon will be hosted on Wednesday 12th July between 11:30am–1pm.
6. Ways to stay connected
There is so much to see, do (and tweet) from Microsoft Inspire, and it can be a bit overwhelming. We spoke to Rachel Braunstein, Marketing Manager for Microsoft and Social Media Manager for Microsoft Partners for advice on using social media at the conference.
To stay connected at the conference, your best bet would be following the MS Partner presence on Twitter, liking them on Facebook, and connecting with them on LinkedIn. They’ll be live streaming and sharing news and content from the conference! Don’t forget the official hashtag is #MSInspire!
7. Who do you want to connect with?
One thing that we have learned from Microsoft conferences is to make a note of all the people you want to meet at the event beforehand. Whether it’s a list of customers, clients or just other partners, it’s best to debrief your team who is on your company’s hit list.
Putting this kind of plan in place will also help you to build your Microsoft Inspire schedule, and work out how much time you want to spend at workshops, networking or manning your stand.
8. Waffles and peanut butter bacon pop-tarts
BBQ ribs and homemade peanut butter bacon pop-tarts are some of the best recommended foods to eat while you’re in Washington DC. The Walter E. Washington Convention center is bang in the middle of the city, so there’s plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars around the area.
If you’ve got some free time after the conference and Microsoft Inspire Partner Celebration (and you’ve had your fill of peanut butter bacon pop-tarts) there’s so much to do in DC. Make sure that you ‘Show Your Badge’ for discounts at the best restaurants and attractions.
9. Working around the clock/globe
Although you’ll be enjoying Microsoft’s annual conference, there’s still work to be done back in the ‘real world’ (unless you’re super organised). It might be worth planning ahead, and if you need to keep in touch with clients and customers, be sure to work in the right time zones. We’re using the same time zone calculator as last year.
10. Where did you rank?
And last but certainly not least, don’t forget to sign up for our Microsoft Top 50 Inbound Marketing Excellence 2017 Report. Now in its third year, the report ranks 25,000 Microsoft Partners for their marketing and credits the very best. The report is officially released at Microsoft Inspire on Monday 10th July – so come along to stand #1236, get your free copy and see where you ranked!