Microsoft Inspire 2019: Getting the most out of your time in the desert!

Microsoft’s Inspire conference is a massive week-long affair and can very easily get the better of both first-timers and veterans alike!

Through personal experience and the advice given to me by colleagues and friends, I thought I would share some top tips and best advice!

Sessions – Don’t overload your schedule

Every first-timer’s mistake! There are currently 589 sessions scheduled across the week. The amazing part, they are all super interesting and useful. The problem, the conference is so big it can take 10 to 15 minutes to get to the next session. This leaves overambitious attendees constantly scrambling from session to session, missing sessions which they wanted to be in, having no time to process all the info and feeling like they are failing/messing up. The best piece of advice I have ever been given is the following: Pick the sessions you think will be absolutely essential for your business. Prioritize these over everything else and be realistic on how many you want to attend.

Regional Sessions and Parties

When it comes to the evenings at Inspire, there is always somewhere to be. Each Microsoft region hosts their own opening party and thank you/closing party. On top of this, you have the massive closing party which all the attendees from across the globe are invited to. Add into the mix the ISV vendor-hosted drinks receptions and ad hoc meet-ups and get-togethers. My advice: attend your regional opening party. It helps you get your bearings for the week and it is the first chance to mingle and meet other attendees. After that, it is completely up to you. I have both attended and missed the Microsoft closing party previously based on the celeb performing and location of the event (20 miles out in the desert with only a bus service there …) so personal preference comes into play massively. But ask around and speak to other attendees, they may know about a party you may want to attend.

See some of Las Vegas

Don’t travel halfway around the world and not experience Las Vegas. The place literally caters to everyone. Casinos, every spectrum of a restaurant from high end to American burger joints, amazing magic and comedy shows, ziplines over the strip, the Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, cool bars, roller coasters, and iconic fountains and hotels. There is something for everyone of every age. Make sure you carve out some time to see the sights and experience it.

Inspire can get HECTIC! Full information overload! So, some time to reflect on what you are seeing hearing, learning and participating in is crucial. Setting aside a little time each day to take stock will help to keep your thoughts and learning in order. There is nothing worse than coming back and not remembering a crucial piece of info because you didn’t take 5 minutes to capture it properly.

Follow up

  • Ok, so picture this: You have just spent 5 to 7 days in the desert meeting people, attending mind-blowing sessions and planning how your business is going to leverage the wave of technology change. You get home and head back into the office on Monday and … back to business as usual …
  • I hear about this happening every year. All the time and money invested in attending to come away and continue as you were before. WASTED OPPORTUNITY! If you are going to make the investment in attending Inspire, invest in the follow-up time. If that means sending 100+ emails to all the people you spoke to then make the time to do it. If it means working with your executive team to investigate new ideas and partnerships, own it and make it happen. Inspire isn’t a cheap investment by any means, make the most of it with a proper follow-up.

Network, Network and do some more Networking

So many people forget this! You are surrounded by thought leaders, peers from different international regions, potential partners and people who may have just taken their business through the transformation you might be currently considering. It is a huge opportunity to learn, collaborate and impart knowledge. Try talking to as many people as possible, you never know who you might meet. Personally, I have met people at Inspire who I now catch up with every couple of months to share ideas and best practice so that we can all grow our businesses and selves professionally. (That first conversation happened on a train platform before we even got on board the plane to Las Vegas!) Don’t miss this golden opportunity to expand your network.

Enjoy it!

It sounds silly but makes sure you enjoy yourself! As mentioned before, Inspire can get hectic and very full-on, make sure you enjoy the experience and your time there. Inspire is by far my favourite conference and Las Vegas is one of my favourite cities so I thought I would share some of my favourite places to check out.

Finally, I would love to hear all about your top tips or best advice for getting the most out of Inspire or any other conferences. Comment below or message me directly.

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