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Special guest post by Microsoft Dynamics partner: Jim Barnes, President and CEO, enVista

Microsoft Convergence, the premier event for the Microsoft Dynamics community, is right around the corner. This year’s conference is being held March 18-21 in New Orleans. The four-day event can be a whirlwind for attendees. So how do you maximize your time and get the most out of the conference? Here are three tips to capitalize on all the conference has to offer and to maximize the value you receive.

STRATEGY #1: Plan ahead. And then plan some more.

Convergence is a big conference. It can be overwhelming for new attendees and experienced veterans, alike. Fortunately, the conference offers a robust web site with a full agenda, including: keynotes, educational sessions, expo information and networking opportunities. The site also includes an interactive tool to help attendees build their own schedule.

But before you begin building your schedule, I would suggest taking a step back and asking yourself what you want to get out of the conference. What do you need to learn about Microsoft Dynamics AX? Do you need to evaluate the solution or improve the way you use your current system? What about solutions available that extend the value of Microsoft Dynamics AX? What does the long-term solution roadmap look like, and how is that going to impact your organization? Perhaps you need to improve some key processes internally; how can Microsoft Dynamics AX help? Are there experienced partners who could help get you where you need to go faster to accelerate ROI?

Starting with these kinds of questions will define the types of tracks, presenters, training and vendors you build into your event plan.

STRATEGY #2: Be engaged.

We’ve all attended a conference where we knew few people, felt a bit sluggish, could blend in the crowd or easily stay in our hotel room or on our phones… and basically wait for the conference to end. If you are going to attend Convergence and invest your time and the company’s travel budget, then be present. Attend the sessions. Reach out to other users and partners. Ask questions. Ask more questions. And network.

With so many resources and experts at Convergence, chances are you will be able to find the answers you need. A speaker will offer the perfect gem of an idea or best practice, the attendee next to you may have “been there” or “done that” and become a trusted advisor into the future. Maybe you will find out that some of your assumptions about Microsoft Dynamics AX were wrong – or you will be proven right. Show up. You will learn something, likely many things, and meet some interesting, helpful people along the way.

STRATEGY #3: Stick to your plan, but break it for the right opportunities.

Assuming you followed Strategy #1 above for Convergence, you should know the information you need to uncover at the conference. Don’t leave the event without finding out. Make it your mission. That will mean forgoing some tracks in favor of lingering at others. It may mean you need to give yourself more time to peruse the exhibit hall and talk to partners, or continue a conversation with another helpful attendee over dinner. Wherever you anticipate you may have your ‘aha’ moments, build in a buffer of extra time. And be flexible while you are at the show. Work your plan so you conquer what you set out to do at Convergence, but recognize that you may need to deviate from it from time to time.

The bottom line: If you are prepared, engaged and present, Convergence offers a wealth of opportunities to expand your knowledge of Microsoft Dynamics AX and the value you can receive from the solution.