Guest post by Slalom Consulting.

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Ever had that feeling when you know someone who’s going somewhere you’ve been and loved—say, Europe or Hawaii—and you can’t wait for them to have the same great experience you did? At Slalom Consulting, we feel that way about the 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference. Yes, we’re that excited about a conference! If you’re a partner attending WPC for the first time this year, you, too, will come to understand that this conference is much more than an event: it’s an experience.

However, merely showing up isn’t enough. We’ve learned in nine years of attending WPC that the more mission-oriented partners are heading into the event, the more business value they walk away with. Our company, a Microsoft partner and member of the National Systems Integrator group since 2003, has continually—even aggressively—increased the size and scope of the team we send to WPC over the years to match our deepening business relationship with Microsoft.

From a team of four in 2003 to one exceeding 20 this year, Slalom’s WPC contingency has expanded in line with the intimacy we have with contacts in the Microsoft field. We not only have a larger group attending this year, but a more diverse one—including portal practice leaders and Microsoft relationship leaders—to further relationships and interests with Microsoft marketing, product, and sales teams from across the country.

But sending a team to meet Slalom’s current needs is logical. What’s even more interesting is how our increased presence at WPC over the years—which includes not only sending more staff, but also increasing our visibility through speeches, breakout sessions, and awards—has been somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we increase Slalom’s WPC team, we grow the following year. You could say that it works in reverse—that we send more staff to WPC because we grew the prior year—but we cannot overstate how critical this event has been to the success of our company.

Slalom just celebrated its tenth year in business, generating $288 million in revenue (a 48 percent increase over the previous fiscal year). We have 1500 consultants in 11 U.S. markets who localize Big 4– level business and technology consulting capabilities and resources for our clients. We pride ourselves on forming in-depth relationships with clients at the local level. Seattle–based customers are serviced by Seattle–based consultants. Customers in the Northeast are serviced by a team with heavy financial services expertise, etc.—all backed by significant corporate investments in IP and IT to deliver best-in-class solutions.

What’s next for us is just as exciting. We forecast continuing year-over-year double-digit growth, and continue to open in new markets every year (Houston and Minneapolis are next!). Our work with Microsoft has been central to all of these accomplishments. The “trusted advisor” business relationships we have with accounts has afforded us a unique opportunity to give Microsoft a view into what’s going on at the ground level and collaborate for our mutual success. For that insight and collaboration, we’ve been recognized by Microsoft several times over the past couple of years. We were awarded the Microsoft “Office 365 Race to Innovate” Grand Prize Championship award, Windows Azure Circle Program, 2010 Microsoft Information Worker Solutions, Collaboration Partner of the Year, and 2011 Microsoft Online Services Solution Partner of the Year.

And our annual trek to WPC offers us an opportunity to solidify our joint strategy and emerge from the gate strong each fiscal year.

If you’re attending WPC for the first time this year, we’d like to share some of our best practices for maximizing your impact and getting the most business value from the event:

  • Get resourceful. Leverage all the available WPC blog information, the WPC session builder, and WPC Connect and you should have no trouble identifying how to access the information and individuals on site that can help advance your objectives as a business and as a Microsoft partner.
  • Dream on. We work with more than several Microsoft Partner Account Managers and Business Development Managers to build our dream list of meetings at WPC. Once we build that list, we set out to contact and coordinate onsite meet-ups with as many of those people as possible. Who’s on your dream list for WPC?
  • Staff strategically. For as much as our WPC team has grown over the years, that growth has been purposeful and strategic. Don’t simply throw people at WPC, assuming you can blanket the event with staff and something will stick. If you’re unsure who should attend from your business, one approach is to get those “dream” meetings arranged and map individuals to those meetings. For this reason, and because we work hard right up until the event coordinating these conversations, Slalom has sometimes made relatively late decisions about team makeup to meet our strategic needs.

We’d like for all partners to build upon their areas of strength and capture the many opportunities that await them at WPC 2012. It’s the “We want you to have a fantastic experience at WPC” effect, and we hope you walk away from this year’s event already energized about 2013!