Post by Sharon Collins, Microsoft Partner Network Manager and Competency Lead, U.S. Partner Team.

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Each month in the U.S. partner newsletter, Sharon Collins, U.S. Microsoft Partner Network Manager and Competency Lead, delivers a message to silver and gold competency partners about maintaining and maximizing their competency investment. Our Competency blog series continues that conversation, and also helps partners working to achieve their first competency.

clip_image001The “Competency Attainment” view on Virtual Partner Concierge links you directly to the latest competency-specific information and resources.

The U.S. Partner Team is finalizing plans for the new Microsoft fiscal year, which begins July 1, and we’re also preparing for the 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference, coming up in just three short weeks (wow!). With so many product releases on tap for the coming year—across operating systems, business productivity, business intelligence, ERP and CRM, and cloud services—it will be more important than ever to take advantage of your Partner Network benefits and opportunities to prepare to meet customer demands and keep your practice current. Here are three things that are top of mind for me for partners with a competency:

  • The 2012 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference is the best way for Microsoft partners to become knowledgeable about the opportunities ahead and to understand Microsoft strategy, product roadmaps, and the evolution of the Microsoft Partner Network. Don’t miss the connection, networking, and business value—register today and then start your Conference experience with WPC Connect.
    • The Session Catalog is a great way to get a sense of what themes and content you can expect to see and hear at WPC. Use the audience and track filters to quickly see sessions that align to your current or next competency. I am particularly intrigued by the 50+ sessions in the Business Leadership/Sales Excellence/Marketing track.
  • imageUnderstand the May competency updates and meet new exam requirements before your next membership renewal date. New Microsoft certifications are made available shortly after Microsoft releases a new version of a product. To ensure ongoing relevance to your customers, the Microsoft Partner Network updates the requirements for gold and silver competencies semi-annually (usually in October and May). You may have received an email notification about the changes that affect your company, advising you to take action. If you need assistance, contact the U.S. MPN Experts by email, phone, or chat.
  • Capitalize on the cloud opportunity with the new Small Business Competency. The growing maturity of cloud computing can open major revenue streams for partners in the small business segment. Earning the Small Business competency uniquely positions your business to take advantage of this market opportunity, demonstrate advanced skills and technology expertise, and provide cost-effective services.



Competency-Related Stories from the June 15 U.S. Partner Newsletter [read the full issue]

Promote Your Microsoft Competencies to Customers with Ready-to-Go Marketing Materials
Communicate the value of your Microsoft competency to customers and prospects with our collection of marketing materials that include web banners, press release kit, sample social media content, and more. Our Campaign Guide explains what's available and how to use these materials to your best advantage.

Unlimited Technical Presales Assistance to Help You Close Deals
Your competency benefits include access to Technical Presales Assistance from Partner Services, offering competitive assistance, proof-of-concept guidance, and solution architecture guidance. For deals worth $3,000 or more, there is no cost to you; for deals worth less than $3,000, you may apply your Partner Advisory Hours benefit.

Prepare for Certification with Practice Tests—Partner Discount Available
A great way to prepare for an exam is to take a practice test, so you can assess your knowledge of the exam material. Practice tests feature questions that are the same difficulty and scope as those on the actual Microsoft exam and can help highlight areas where you need more preparation. Practice test vendor MeasureUp has a special offer for large teams: 25 practice tests for $750, a savings of 62 percent.

New Sales Specialist Accreditation for Microsoft Learning Partners
Empower yourself and advance your career with advice, accreditation information, and other tips to help you earn the new Microsoft Sales Specialist Learning Accreditation.