Post by Jemima Herman, Worldwide Partner Conference lead for the Microsoft U.S. Partner Team.

Connecting with other partners and with Microsoft is the main reason you come to WPC, and the new WPC Connect experience is designed to help you make those connections so that you get the most out of your WPC investment. On WPC Connect, you’ll find features that are similar to social tools you may already be familiar with, but social media expertise is not required to successfully use it. I’m excited about what this tool offers to enhance your WPC participation.

Here are some tips, tricks, and ideas for using WPC Connect to start your amazing WPC 2012 experience!

  1. Create your profile and confirm you are visible to others in the community. Your profile determines how you appear in the directory, and allows other attendees to find you by areas of interest or as a “recommended contact.” To update your profile, mouse over your welcome message at the far right of the navigation bar, and select “edit my profile.” At the bottom of the “Basics” tab, confirm that the “Show me in the community” box is checked.image
    • Add links to your blog and social media (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) so people have alternate ways to reach you (really nice for connecting quickly with people while onsite at the Conference).
  2. See the latest discussions, #WPC12 tweets, and people profiles on your home page. I particularly love the recommended contacts (personalized for you based on your profile), and seeing the people who have recently joined as well as speakers.
    • Hover over someone’s picture to see their name, send them a message, add them as a contact, or request a meeting with them. Pretty slick! 
  3. Quickly find people to connect with at WPC. Click on “attendees” in the black navigation bar, and use search to find people by any of the profile attributes (name, company name, areas of interest, etc.). You can even use keywords—I tried a few like marketing, social, small business, and New York, and got good results. You can also narrow attendees down using the tags at the right side of the page. Looking for partners with a specific competency to complement the competencies your company has? Select it from those tags and see both partners and Microsoft employees who align to that competency.image
    • Once you’ve found some people who sound interesting to you, reach out and set up a meeting! Just hover and select “Request a meeting” to then send a message and schedule the time. You’ll be able to see your Conference schedule (in blue), including any sessions you have expressed interest in attending, and any time your invitee has blocked off for other meetings, sessions, etc. and is not available (in red).
    • The calendar shows 15-minute increments, too, so you can set up a 45-minute meeting and give yourself 15 minutes to get to your next meeting if you need it.  Or, just schedule a quick 15-minute meeting over coffee with an acquaintance or Microsoft team member.
  4. Build your Conference schedule, and meet others who are attending the same sessions you are. Have you ever walked into a conference session and wished you knew someone there? WPC Connect lets you see who else is planning to come to a session and start or participate in a discussion about the session.

    • From “conference schedule” in the navigation bar, you’ll see tabs for each of the four days of Conference sessions. Within each tab, you’ll see the list of sessions by time slot. Mouse over the time slot and click Expand to get session details, then mouse over the individual sessions and click the plus sign to add a session to your schedule.  image
    • Click the session name to go to a page that shows you details about the session, the profile for the speaker(s), the list of attendees, and any discussions about that session.

  5. Keep your WPC Connect schedule handy—on your mobile phone or through your Outlook calendar. WPC Connect is mobile-friendly, you can simply access through your mobile browser. You can also export your calendar to Outlook, and if you use Outlook on your mobile device, that will make your schedule handy, too!

Start your WPC 2012 experience today at http://wpc2012connect.digitalwpc.com, and take advantage of this great tool for connection, networking, and collaboration. I’ll see you out there!

Do you have a great WPC Connect tip to share with other #WPC12 attendees? Tweet it using #wpcus and we’ll share it with the U.S. WPC Community.