Working with Millennials in the Partner Community

I delivered this presentation last year at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference (the WPC) in Toronto.

The #WPC16 is largest partner-to-partner event in the tech world. It has been renamed Microsoft Inspire and will take place in Washington, DC in July 2017 – I wrote about it in Prepare to be Inspired.

The full presentation is posted on SlideShare and below.

This post includes a bit more than I delivered on stage. Including a recent conversation with an industry veteran and a few links to areas where Boomers and Gen X’ers can get involved, as well as a subtle call to action for you, for Microsoft and for current partners.

This is a dialogue. This conversation is dynamic. Every day Millennials and Gen Z’s have a choice to where they’ll spend their time. It is incumbent upon us to help them know what they can do in the Microsoft Partner Community.

I hope to continue this conversation at the #MSInspire event in DC next July.

Millennials are the Future of Partnership

imageMany of them are in the working world and more are entering the workforce every day. Together we can help them make a decision to join the partner community. Whether it’s as an owner, partner or employee. It is on us to help make the process as smooth as possible/

Fun Facts about Millennials

  • 10,000 Millennials are reaching the age of 21 every day**
  • By 2025, 3 out of every 4 workers globally will be Millennials
  • Today there are 55 million Millennials in the workplace

The full presentation is posted on SlideShare and below.

How Can We Help?

By helping Millennials (and Gen Z’s) understand the opportunities with partnering is the responsibility of today's generation. Microsoft needs to play a role as a platform provider. Current partners, which are often comprised of Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers have a role to play too.

Baby Boomers play a big role here:

  • 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age every day**
  • They aren't (necessarily) retiring ... they have Big Plans
  • The bring The FEM Factor

In the slideshare presentation you'll see some of the factors that are impacting the partner community and what collectively we can do about it ... together.

Note: Millennials and Gen Z's are starting business every day. This is a good thing.

The Challenge

Getting Millennials and Gen Z’s to consider doing this in the Microsoft partner ecosystem.

It's critical to win the hearts and minds of Millennials, Gen Z's and the Alphas. They have choices ... and they'll switch quickly if not challenged and shown the value and LUV.

Note: I’m talking about the Microsoft partner ecosystem here. Every platform provider has the same challenge.

The Opportunity

Note the asterisks on the 10,000 points above for Millennials and Baby Boomers.

  • 10,000 Millennials are reaching the age of 21 every day
  • 10,000 Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age every day

This is a HUGE opportunity. Boomers bring Three Things to the equation that Millennials and Gen Z’s can incorporate into their business ventures.

I wrote about this in detail in Millennials Meet Your New Business Partners.

This gist is Boomers may be an integral part of any growing business by bringing the three elements of The FEM Factor to bear (slide 19)

Also, Boomers and Gen X’ers (and some of the Greatest Generation too) can and should share their expertise.

Microsoft can help!

Microsoft can take pro-active efforts to learn from existing partners. It is in Microsoft’s best interest to do this.

SlideShare -  Working with Millennials in the Partner Community 

What do you think?

  • How are you seeing Millennials and Gen Z’s in the Partner Community?
  • What needs to be done to attract them? to keep them?
  • Is the traditional partner model going to work for the next generation?

This last point is something I had a great conversation with Jon Ferrara of Nimble about in the last month. There is a shift to an updated model of partnering. It’s analogous, but not exactly the same, as what we saw in the 80’s and 90’s. Of course, this what when the Millennials and Gen Z’s were either very young or not born yet.

The Shift in the Force

Yes, this is a cheap tie-in to Star Wars, but it’s true. The way partnering has been done for years is changing. It is up to platform providers (Microsoft included) to figure out how to best encourage, inspire and adopt their products to create the solutions of the future.

The Future is Bright

Microsoft has over 350 products today. Back when I started in the 1990’s at Microsoft there were effectively only four products.

The times have changed. The partner model needs to change too. Microsoft is making strides to embrace Millennials and Gen Z’s. I mean embrace in the sense that they are realizing how, why, where, and when Millennials and Gen Z’s want to engage. What they need. How they want to be educated and trained. What certification means. How they want to be recognized.

Hint: A participation medal isn’t enough.

It’s time to get Millennials and Gen Z’s fully aware and vested in the Microsoft Partner Community.

  • Are you ready to help?
  • What do you think the next steps are?
  • How do you envision the partner community of the future?

imageI  hope to see you at the Microsoft Inspire event in Washington, DC in July. Registration is open. I hope to be delivering another session or two on How to Work with Millennials in the Partner Community.


Image Credit: Kristen Lawrence of rFactr

clip_image001Jeff is business advisor, mentor and community engagement expert. He has spent most of his career in the Enterprise Content Management industry. He brings over 20 years of Channel Sales, Partner Marketing and Alliance expertise to audiences around the world in speaking engagements and via his writing. He has worked for Microsoft, Kodak, and K2.

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