If WPC 2013 is your first Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference then you’re in good company - almost 30% of WPC delegates will be first time attendees too.

This year, we’re more focused than ever on making sure, whether your a first time attendee or seasoned WPC veteran, that you have the resources to build those contacts and increase your business opportunities.

Plan for success

A great WPC experience starts well before you touch down in Houston, believes Chris Wight of Partner Pulse. “The very first thing we did” says Chris “was to work out what we wanted to get out of the show by the end of it. We wrote a list of ten things we would love to achieve during our time there and then we worked backwards. We used our list to drive our preparations. Once we knew what we wanted, we could work out how to go about achieving it.”

“To actually help make sure we meet up with the people we have identified, we have been contacting them in advance to organise things” continues Chris. “This won’t work with everyone of course, but if we can pre-arrange 50% of our meetings, we think it will really help our experience.”

WPC Connect is an invaluable tool for first-time delegates and veterans alike. Use it to meet new contacts, schedule meetings and create a profile that lets people connect with you.  Be sure to check out WPC Connect’s dedicated First Time Attendee group - very helpful.

Keep calm and stay focused!

With over 15,000 delegates and hundreds of partner sessions to choose from, its easy to find yourself overwhelmed at WPC. Jeff Shuey of Winstream recommends you take a short while to familiarise yourself with the venue, the event and the city itself once you arrive. Next, Jeff recommends finding a friend you’ve arranged to meet. Or alternatively, in Jeff’s words, “be a friend – if you see someone who looks like he or she could use a hand or some guidance, offer it!”

Follow up contacts, nurture opportunities

Another of Jeff’s excellent tips is to actively schedule time to follow up with your new connections on your return. ‘My secret Trade Show Tip: plan for at least one hour every day to do follow up activities. You won’t be sorry you did when you get home. As you meet people, write down whatever it is you promise to do, and follow up.”

Now everyone’s WPC will be a different experience shaped by your individual and business goals. If you take the advice of expert’s and plan your WPC journey in three phases – pre-event, event and post-event – you’ll give yourself every chance of making WPC an enjoyable, inspiring and rewarding conference.

Be sure to follow our weekly tweets #wpcuk and #new2wpc, and to check out Kati Quigley’s New to WPC blog and the partner videos on DigitalWPC.

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