13 Tips for Attending Microsoft Convergence 2012

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1. Familiarize yourself with the sessions catalog: Concurrent sessions, interactive discussions, and hands-on labs.

2. You are not going to the conference to eat or sleep. The goal is to gain as much new information as you can and to make as many connections as possible. Find solutions. The biggest gathering of the top ISV's in the world; Microsoft Dynamics GP has a vast and robust channel of ISV's that extend the product. You can find solutions for problems you didn't know you had. You can find easier ways of doing things .

3. Be sure your suitcase has room to bring home more than you brought with you. There is a ton of information to be gathered and you may want to pack lighter than usual to avoid excessive baggage fees on the way home.

4. Be sure to attend the keynote sessions. The keynotes with Microsoft Executives will help you align your future with theirs. In fact, you will often see a future you hadn’t yet imagined. The keynote(s) with non-Microsoft speakers are always fantastic. Also find out what the future plans are for the Dynamics product you are using. Arrive early to the keynote ro get the best seating.

5. Look beyond the sessions. There is no question the sessions carry a lot of value, but they are just one piece of the puzzle.  The networking opportunities and the products EXPO are wonderful ways to extend the value of Convergence 2012.

6. Attend the parties. Believe it or not, the environment created by a social event allows conservative professional barriers to be lowered and can often provide you with real insight or even a great new business relationship. Remember, everyone there shares Microsoft Dynamics in common so you will never be stuck for  something to talk about.

7. Engage with your partner or ISV; Convergence is a big opportunity for free consulting.

8. Ask the Convention Center guides where the ‘secret’ tunnel is that takes you from the Community and Learning Center to the Expo and eating halls. This tunnel will save you hundreds of steps, which becomes important after four days of attending all the exciting sessions you won’t want to miss.

9. Wear comfortable shoes, there will be tons of walking between meal halls, the EXPO, keynote sessions, and classroom training sessions.

10. Bring lots of business cards for networking opportunities.   Talk to people like you and share experiences. I bet there is someone out there who has experienced the same challenges as you have and has resolved them. Learn what they did and what they learned. Finding connections will give you more ideas from the real world. Also consider dropping your business card in for some of the ISV drawings. The prizes at convergence are great.

11. Find Answers: Bring every question your company has about Microsoft Dynamics. The support help desk and Microsoft learning center are there to answer any questions you have about the product and many of the representatives have over ten years of experience, being Expert-level resources. For example, if you need help creating a report, just bring your requirements and ask!  Want to make sure you are backing up your system correctly? They'll tell you how.

12. Attend Crestwood’s Client Appreciation Dinner on Tuesday, March 20th.

13. Have fun and enjoy Houston!

-John Kazanow, CSM, Crestwood Associates, LLC. A Microsoft Dynamics GP and Dynamics SL Partner in Illinois and Indiana.

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