Guest post by Tina Hanson, Partner-to-Partner Lead for the Microsoft U.S. Partner Team.

Tina Hanson (Parkhouse) 2011Over the past several weeks, the Microsoft U.S. Partner Team has been hosting the fall series of partner networking events, the U.S. Channel Development and Meet & Greets. I attended the Dallas event in October, and it was great to see a few familiar faces—colleagues who used to work at Microsoft and branched out on their own—and meet many local partners. Even after a long work day, many partners made the time to come to the event, and I was glad I made the time to do so as well. It’s always great to see partner networking in action.

There are a few final Channel Development and Meet & Greet events coming in the next couple of weeks, in the Central and West Regions. If you are in the one of these cities, I encourage you to consider participating. Planning for the spring events will begin after the new year, and we’ll post information about them here, in the newsletter, and through our social media outreach.

But if you missed your local event, or there wasn’t a Meet & Greet near you—there are plenty of other ways to connect with other Microsoft partners and build those very important relationships. Earlier this year, I provided guidance on this blog about finding the partner community that best suits you, along with a list of suggestions for communities to consider. That list is still relevant, and I’ve included it again in this post, plus would like to introduce you to a new community that I have been working with, called MPOWR. And, don’t forget that the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, from July 8-12, 2012 in Toronto, Canada, offers a significant networking opportunity, too.

I always enjoy hearing from partners about their networking and partnering successes, through the communities listed below and otherwise. Drop me a line at partnerQ@microsoft.com to share yours.



MPOWR (“Microsoft Partners for One World of Results”)  is an independent community of individuals employed by Microsoft Partner Network organization with a focus on building their businesses through P2P collaboration in an online community environment. Instead of organizing around geography for member interaction, this virtual community orients around “topics” driven by members. MPOWR offers portal-based tools for developing collaboration relationships among partners, lead sharing to help members find peer organizations with complimentary capabilities to join forces and capture new business, Special Interest Groups (SIGs) that allow easy-to-create sub-groups on any topic of interest to members (e.g., Microsoft Dynamics, Mobility, Women In Technology), education and networking events, and more. Microsoft Partner Network member employees are eligible to join for free.

The International Association of Microsoft Channel Partners (IAMCP US) is a not-for profit association with a long-standing relationship with Microsoft. The IAMCP US has an active group over 1,000 members in the United States and an international presence, too. The IAMCP’s charter centers around their acronym, PACE, which stands for “Partner-to-Partner, Advocacy, Community and Education.” There are 30+ chapters in the U.S. that meet regularly, and some work closely with their local Microsoft teams to support each other. If you are seeking regular face-to-face interaction with other partners of different types, interested in sharing leads between partners, and building a stronger connection to local Microsoft teams, I encourage you to visit the IAMCP US website to learn more.

Participation in Heartland Technology Group (HTG) Peer Groups is by invitation only. The HTG Peer Group experience is a unique forum for leading solution providers, but only those that are serious about implementing a model for success in their businesses through sharing best practices, member accountability, process improvement, quarterly business reviews, and benchmarking between members which helps drive higher performance of the group. Being part of HTG means that you are highly accountable and execution is everything. After all, their mission is “Business and Personal Growth Driven by Execution”, but Arlin Sorensen, founder and CEO of HTG, can often be heard quoting the words “Vision Without Execution is Hallucination.” 

PartnerPoint has two aspects to its business. The most relevant aspect to Microsoft partners who are seeking to meet other partners is the online community engagement and discussions that are facilitated through Linked In. The online community is a good place to become more involved in partner discussion and hear what other partners are thinking and can also be a good resource for partners to find information they may not otherwise find on their own. If you looking for an online community to engage with in conversation and that requires the amount of time you are willing to put in from your computer, check out PartnerPoint.

The ISV Channel Development Toolkit is an online resource that helps provide solution partners with best practices for preparing to launch a partner channel, recruit channel partners, and support a channel once it is up and running. Through the offering of online resources, videos, a customizable partner recruit kit, and extensive documentation, you will get valuable resources to become channel ready so you can start partnering with SIs, VARs, and complementary solution providers.

KnowledgeCircles was previously called PowerCircles. This online community brings Microsoft partners together in a virtual forum to help group members build stronger businesses by tapping into collective wisdom and significant years of experience.  They target CEOs and executives of technology companies who want to take their business to the next level.  I have never had first-hand experience participating in a KnowledgeCircles forum, however, I do provide content and messaging to them on a regular basis and am always open to hearing from the members on how Microsoft can support this community. If you are looking to add years of experience to your team without adding them to your payroll, check out KnowledgeCircles.