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Special guest post by Microsoft Dynamics partner: Andy Vabulas, I.B.I.S., Inc.

In my role as a Microsoft Dynamics partner, I have been to every Convergence except for the very first event held in Orlando, FL. Convergence originally started out as a 100 person event held in 1997 at the Buena Vista Palace – a facility that no longer exists. The originator was Doug Burgum, founder and CEO of Great Plains Software whose intention was to develop a community that encouraged partners and customers to build strategic business relationships. 

What a great idea – a conference to bring people together to build relationships! Throughout the years, the conference has exceeded its original goal and has evolved to be so much more than a community gathering – it is an energetic forum that presents the attendee an opportunity to learn Microsoft’s directions, develop or enhance product skills,  and explore extended solutions all focused around the Microsoft Dynamics product lines.

That said, the original intent of connecting and networking with peers is still very much alive and well which is the true secret to Convergence’s success.

I absolutely LOVE attending Microsoft’s Convergence. It is my favorite Microsoft event and the best business conference in the market today, hands-down. For me, attending Convergence has begins with a ritual that involves proper planning in order to drive clients to attend and then delivering an over the top client experience. A great example of a Convergence client success is the November winner of Share Your Convergence Story contest. Michelle Martin Kocher from Delta Medical Systems, an I.B.I.S. client, shares her story on how she became a believer after her first attendance in 2009. Read Michelle’s experience here.

It takes a bit of work to maximize your Convergence experience. You can’t fall off the turnip truck at the foot of Bourbon Street and expect to get the most positive Convergence experience. I personally take planning for this event very seriously and devote enough time upfront to insure I make the most out of the many opportunities Convergence offers. 

Here are a few ways I plan for Convergence:

  • One of my favorite resources is the Convergence portal that I utilize to effectively plan my days. I see what time the keynote starts in the morning so I know how long I can sleep!
  • I study the agenda to see what sessions are being presented and who from the Microsoft ecosystem is presenting.
  • I gather my thoughts on my business priorities and determine who from Microsoft will be available to meet with me (to hear me rant or rave).
  • I look to my company’s leaders to guide me towards partner relationships that will enhance our service offerings for the benefit of our customers.  
  • Most importantly, I make it a priority to reach out to the friends that I have maintained for the past 15 years to see if they will be in attendance and schedule a time to reconnect.
  • Of course, Randy Forkner and I plan the annual legendary Randy and Andy Convergence Party!

It is true that I will spend more hours awake than asleep while at Convergence – with some of my best meetings being held at the evening events. I will leave New Orleans utterly exhausted. Yet I will take with me a sense of energy that will passionately drive me over the next 12 months. I will leave with fresh ideas, answers to burning questions, and have new tools in my company’s solutions arsenal. Most importantly, I will have a list of new contacts and friends to add to my Outlook upon returning to the office. Priceless!

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