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Ready for Microsoft Ignite? Event Maven Tips to Rock It!

Ready for Microsoft Ignite? Event Maven Tips to Rock It!

#MSIgnite 2018 will be the third Microsoft Ignite I’ve attended (my first TechEds were Barcelonaand Dallas, TX in 2003). Microsoft Ignite is Microsoft’s largest ITPro/Dev event of the year featuring hundreds of technical sessions and hands-on workshops, a massive expo floor, tons of parties and, something I am very proud to be a part of, a whole track devoted to learning about and fostering Diversity and Inclusion. 

As an Event Maven who used to produce these events for Microsoft, I know a few ins and outs to get the most knowledge, networking, and fun out of it. 

Here are some tips & tricks to help you create a productive and memorable Microsoft Ignite experience.

Back to Basics: Microsoft Partner Network 101 Webinars - Marketing is an All-Play

Back to Basics: Microsoft Partner Network 101 Webinars - Marketing is an All-Play

This week I sat in on a Microsoft Partner Network 101: New Marketing Tools and Resources Webinar led by Chinmayi Bhavanishankar & Diana Emleila Ishak both awesome marketers to follow on LinkedIn and on Twitter. They are part of Microsoft US OCP, which stands for Microsoft One Commercial Partner.

A New Year, A New Look – Time for a Creative Maven Costume Change

Make Moments. Spin Stories. Build Brands.

Enough is enough.  It's time for a makeover.  

It's not about my hair.  Wild as it is.  

Nor is it about my stuffed to the gills closet..  

Its' about my website.

Touching Gatesness

“He is coming!” whisper-yells my colleague. The year is 2002. I’m standing in front of our Global Customer Evidence Booth in New Orleans and I’m about to meet Bill Gates. My life changes today. I’m 30 years old, it’s my birthday week and I am about to start my journey into the world of technology and tradeshows.

Published - ImproveIT - A collection of essays on SharePoint accomplishing more with SharePoint

Thrilled to have been included with such an amazing group of SharePoint experts and it was terrific to write this chapter with my business partner of Content Panda, Simeon Cathey.

Social Noodling - #TweetJam #cmswire

I attended the #CMSWire sponsored Tweet Jam yesterday - SharePoint in the Enterprise #EIMChat and I was summarily intrigued...

Are you a player in the game?  I say kudos to CMS Wire for showing initiative and creating the proverbial buzz that they normally do around innovation and technology and getting vendors together to publicly duke it out.  They are great at that.

Rose By Any Other Name?  Where I understand the name Tweet Jam, it makes me thinks of toejam or an annoying long  music set or musicians who go on and on and on. (hmmm, maybe the name is more appropriate than I originally thought) ...

Who dat?  While watching the Jam play out, it was interesting to see who was on, who wasn't, did Microsoft SharePoint PMs participate besides asking questions, we're there any "customers" on and/or if it was just a bunch of SharePoint choir members talking to themselves.  Interestingly enough it WAS all of the above.

My Marketeer Two Cents:  This Tweet Jam forum will either evolve or die depending on if the communities that are involved are already strong or not and if communities decide that they are worth the time.

If Microsoft or other biggies play then so will their partners, MVPs, etc…  validity by participation is part of the deal - so if the big guys stay in the ring, so will the vendors.  This goes for in-person events as well.

It behooves vendors, consultants and MVPs-types to make time for this sort of thing as they thrive off of being "players" with opinions and thoughts about the game.  Customers want their vendors to be in the know, respected in the marketplace and part of the overall community.  Toot your horn as nobody else will.

Some companies have a dedicated person or team dealing with their social strategy and some don't - so whether you choose to be involved in these types of things or not will come down to bandwidth and value out of playing.  The value in a Tweet Jam has yet to be revealed but a company's or individuals "klout" or perception in the marketplace is important and to be a player, again, you have to play the game.    Most companies do NOT have this social game figured out yet so the field is wide open on how to manage, play and govern one's individual and company's policies on it.   I know personally I go in fits and starts with Twitter myself and I do not use FourSquare or Facebook Places.

Folks like CMS Wire are pushing decisions on how we interface with each other, time will tell if it will take off or not.  Like anything else there will be so many Tweet Jam's to choose from someone will need to build a rating system or aggregator to decide which ones to attend and a true way to filter these things.  Hey, maybe that is the next million dollar idea…

For your old school jam needs -   Jam on it, y'all!

Yeah or nay on the Tweet Jam?



Head Maven,, @heddanewman

Viral Events - What is a @SharePint Event?

With high-tech event season upon us I keep getting asked about this so I thought I'd repost a comment I made on Christian Buckley's blog awhile back.  Being an event producer - I love these events and their viral nature.  SharePint events have no barrier to entry and a strict no vendor policy which keeps things pure and agenda-less.  I have made a few venue calls for a number of these in conjunction with events officially and unofficially shall we say and I agree with many of the "musts" that are being formulated into lists.

-No vendor support.

-No marketing agendas.

-No one owns SharePint. Anyone can start their own SharePint event and recruit others to join.

-No members-only jackets required.

-You may only drink Guinness per Mike Ferrara - great post here

-Use the #sharepint Twitter hashtag and send the info a few times and be super clear about where and when.

-Share the information with speakers or other community members directly for retweets.

Venue Pitfalls:

Because conferences and trade shows are so jam-packed, there is usually only time for one SharePint event and the attendee number will be more than 100 people.  Most bars/venues love their places full of paying customers.  However without either someone local who knows the scene or someone to do a bit of groundwork - you can end up with a venue that isn't big enough,  has bad flow,  not enough standing room, doesn't have enough bar/wait staff or decides to pull out karaoke or trivia in the middle and then no one can talk.

-- is a great resource - you can do a quick search to see if they have a private room or seating for large parties.  Many times these are free you just have to ask.

Finding a Venue & What to Ask Them:

-- What is going on in the bar the night you picked?  If its trivia night or karaoke, and its a one room bar avoid it, no one will be able to talk.

-- Avoid venues that require a contract for a private room, you don't need a private room.

--Alert them of the onslaught of people coming in - they will thank you, may put up a sign and may bring on extra staff.

--Venues that typically have bigger space:  sports bars, any of the Lucky Strike Bowling Venues, Irish or English pubs, venues close to sporting arenas.

--Most people are starving after working an event all day, having a place with the grill open is awesome!

--To register or not to register, this goes back to this being loose and easy, no reg and no fees.

--If guests are cool, tip well, pay their tabs, etc... the venue will remember.  They always do.  The opposite is true though as well.  They remember...

No Pay to Play:  In my opinion, one way SharePint events could get ruined is if an event producer decides to add this to their list of "Sponsored Items" ala they start to sell "SharePint" like they do a breakfast or attendee party as a sponsorship.   Better if someone in the community hosts or sponsors. The only way to combat that would be for the community and vendors to not buy the sponsorship.  Hopefully that doesn't happen, and it stays organic, of the community and for the community.

History:  March 5, 2008 -  "SharePoint By Day, SharePint by Night" - 2nd SharePint happened during the SharePoint Conference 2008 in Seattle.  It was hosted by Bob Fox and Andrew Connell and was held at Kells Irish Pub.  It was a great night and this concept took off from there.  From then notifications about SharePint events were from AC's and other SharePoint MVP blogs.  With the dawn of Twitter and Facebook, the #sharepint hashtag took off and there are now SharePint events being held in and around hundreds of  high-tech conferences and trade shows all over the world.  Joel Oleson recaps that second SharePint event.

 Twitter - Search on #sharepint in and around an high-tech event near you….

Hope this helps those of you who are planning a SharePint!



Head Maven,


The Art of Self-Promotion #1 - Speaking at High-Tech Events, Conferences & Tradeshows

I was recently asked following question: I am thinking about getting back into speaking at some more conferences abroad. I am honestly not that well-connected ((internationally) after leaving a large technology company based in Redmond, WA) so I was wondering if you have any good input to where and how to market myself?

Here are some ideas and opinions I have about this and I invite those of you who choose speakers for conferences or who speak regularly to chime in and see what you think too.

1. Understand the Event Producer Game

For the most part event producers in the high-tech arena fall in to a handful of categories:

Big Time - Large technology companies that host their own events to showcase and educate their customers and partners on their products. i.e: Microsoft (TechEd, PDC, Convergence); Oracle (OpenWorld), Lotus (Lotusphere) - The crème de la crème.

3PM Circuit - Third-party media companies who host events to educate attendees and as a revenue-stream/channel to sell subscriptions, memberships, ad space, publications (and all the articles, top ten lists and best of listings inside as well). Just look at the very bottom of an event's website to see who is "producing" GenericCon, GenericConnections, or GenericSummit. I call it a circuit as I know many people who speak at all of the events in a circuit and do very well by them. There are some great events in this space and some not so great, do your homework.

Opinions - Analyst companies who host events to educate consumers about their non-biased opinions of who the movers and shakers are in the marketplace. i.e.: Gartner, Forrester, IDC (only if you sponsor or are an analyst will you speak here).

○ Assoc. - Professional associations, community and user groups usually host educational and community building events to strengthen community ties and add memberships to their associations lists, newsletters, certifications and content. i.e.: Professional Association of SQL Server (PASS), SharePoint Saturdays, and the like. (These are great for getting your feet wet.)

That said, you and your content need do one of three things:

-Draw Butts in Seats (BIS) which increases revenue for the event

-Enhance or expand the importance in the marketplace of the event (fresh, new content)

-Shake things up (though they will never admit it) some organizers want a few rabble rousers to speak in order to give things a goose, get some press and tweet, tweet, tweets!

2. You Must Rock and Be Specific

What do you know and know well? Attendee/customers and all the other speakers (PMS, devs, consultants) who are there to propel their businesses, consulting services, products and themselves will be there watching, assessing and reviewing (blogs & tweets). If you don't know your stuff, haven't presented in a while or are regurgitating content (yours or massaged from another). GET THE HOOK & GET OFF THE STAGE.

○ Know your subject and know it well. Be ready to riff, keep going if your demo fails and to be asked the hard questions.

○ Practice, practice, practice. (Us theater folk)...NEVER go on stage without rehearsing. I still do anytime I know I'm putting it out there.

○ Tell your barber, bartender, or colleague the rough outline of the talk - if you can't, you don’t know it

○ Once you passed that test, give it to your spouse and kids, and take them for pizza after - they will be one of your toughest audiences

○ Tape yourself and watch for the "ums" and that you haven't smiled once. Let people see you actually LIKE what you are talking about  - More Tips on Presenting will follow in The Art of Self-Promotion #2 - Find Your Inner Orator

3. Ready Made or Get It Ready Content

Do you already have content that is ready-consumable that you can use (blog posts, books/e-books, standard presentations that you keep in your back pocket)? Fantastic! If not, you need to do some research, and start looking at event content in your arena.

○ What grabs you - most event websites show at least the titles if not the entire abstracts of sessions. Review how titles are built that grab attention and aren't cheesy

○ Where do you fit - get familiar with track names, which one would your talk fall into? Make it easy for an organizer to pick you by using the track name in your title or abstract

○ Who's on first - look at job titles and company names and see who is getting chosen. See who is "buying" into speaking slots through sponsorships (showcase session or vendor session) and who is just speaking. You can always purchase a sponsorship/booth if you want a guaranteed slot.

4. First Not Best (with props to Al Ries and Jack Trout, if you haven't read The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, you are just plain silly - thank you @TFerriss)

I know I said know your stuff and be a rock star, which I still uphold. But another item to consider is to be on the look out for "Calls for Content" or "Calls for Papers" at the events in your industry that you attend or would like to attend.

BE FIRST! Early birds often get the worm on these. Great titles, snappy abstracts and if you have established a name for yourself are all good too. But don't miss an opportunity because you weren't paying attention. Sign up & subscribe to the event's newsletter, blog, Twitter account. Create a rule in your email to watch out for the words "Call for Content". If you are super smart you would get to know the event organizers when you go to these events.

Maven Insider Tip (MIT) - event organizers tend to be women (apologies for the stereotype)

What do women like? (That's a whole other blog post, however…) Having their names remembered and an attendee telling them what a great job they have done organizing the event  (and that you'd love to be a speaker sometime). Whomever is organizing - male or female, everybody loves a compliment - get to know them. They are an influencer and love people who make their jobs easier.  Bugging someone about speaking at an event the day before it starts is a sure-fire direct route to the "round file".

5. Make Your List Check It Twice

After all that you need to put together your list of events that you'd like to target and see if you can figure out when they go out with their Call for Content or if they don't officially have one, what do they do? Most of this info is on an event's website.

If not you can start by sending an email to the and simply ask. Again if you know a producer ask them. They may not be able to tell you but you can ask to be considered, put on "the list" or when to check back.

Maybe send them something like this….

Hi Heather, I'm interested in being a speaker at this year's generic event do you know when the call for content opens? If not is there a way to be put on the email list for notification? I would appreciate it.

One last question, is there someone else I should ask about this - a content owner or manager that influences these decisions? Here are a couple of ideas I have that match up with some of the tracks from last year's event (insert link or attach it) that I think will really excite attendees. You did such a great job organizing the event last year and I'm eager to be a part of it. I hope all is good with you. Thanks for the information.



Happy Hunting and I'd love to hear if any of these ideas helped snagging a speaking slot or other helpful hints from you rock star speakers out there.




About Heather Newman, Owner & Head Maven, Creative Maven Inc.

@creativemavens, @heddanewman