• Larry Gregory

Making the Most of Inspire 2020

Microsoft Inspire is the annual kickoff event for the Microsoft partner ecosystem. This year it is a free, virtual conference with some familiar elements:

  • Keynotes from Microsoft executives on product enhancements and channel programs

  • Breakout sessions diving into specific product and program details

  • Partner to partner networking

  • Opportunities to meet with Microsoft executives

  • Recognition of Microsoft Partner of the Year award winners

While no one will miss standing in the heat to access the keynote arena 😊, we lose key elements due to the virtual nature of the event:

  • Expo featuring Microsoft product groups and partner exhibits

  • In-person partner-to-partner networking opportunities

  • Area and industry networking events

  • Partner-sponsored evening events and the Partner Celebration concert

  • Digital Transformation Academy kickoff (with US sales teams)

  • Enterprise Partner and Managed ISV side meeting

  • Structured matchmaking events (IoT and P2P speed dating)

Conference sessions will occur July 21-22. Sessions (excluding the 2 keynotes) are 30 minutes long, with 15-minute breaks between them. Popular sessions are offered 2-3 times to accommodate different time zones. The Connection Zone meetings have limited capacity and include Ask the Experts, Partner Conversations, and Community Sessions.


The networking tool supports meetings for the entire week (July 20-24) across all time zones, with senior Microsoft Executive meetings scheduled through the end of July. The Inspire networking tool is very similar to past years, but meetings (once accepted) are scheduled as a Microsoft Teams meeting, instead of getting assigned a table. As of 7/13 there were over 42,000 attendees listed in the networking tool!


Following are a few planning steps to maximize the Inspire networking opportunity:

  • Clarify objectives and expected outcomes for your attendees

  • Define meeting criteria and messaging for partner-to-partner and Microsoft meetings

  • Use the Inspire networking tool (and LinkedIn) to identify attendees to meet

  • Prioritize meetings and manage scheduling

  • Gather top insights and action items from all meetings and sessions

The Inspire session and networking tool opened later than usual which means you need to hustle to schedule networking and session times:

Note that attendee filters do not include Microsoft competencies again this year, which makes partner recruiting a challenge. For example, if you are an ISV looking for SI/Services partners in the US, you have over 5,000 profiles to consider. Also, Microsoft attendees don't use the country tag so finding your regional counterparts is easier if you start with your own contact list rather than searching through the attendee tool.


Have a great event!

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