Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Coming up March 10-13 in New Orleans is Microsoft Convergence 2009. Convergence is Microsoft's premier customer event for the Dynamics line of business, and it's one of Microsoft's largest conventions each year. A few people recently asked me why they should attend, given the difficult economy, and I was surprised that I quickly rattled off ten reasons why they should go. I'm sure that there are more but here are the ten biggest ones I came up with:

1) Learn how to get more out of your existing Dynamics program. Plenty of sessions at Convergence provide you with tips and information for fully exploiting your version of Dynamics. This is important information for tough times and give you the chance to look like a hero when you return home with ideas for improving the efficiency of your current setup.

2) Learn about new features planned for upcoming releases.The economy will turn around. When it does, people are going to want to know how to get ahead of the competition. Convergence can give you a heads up on all of the great new features in upcoming Dynamics releases, so you can better position your firm to compete.

3) Get Continuing Professional Education.If you are a CPA or other professional who needs continuing professional education (CPE) credits, your company is probably going to pay for them anyway, poor economy or not. Why not get two -for-one by attending Convergence to learn about Dynamics and getting CPE at the same time?

4) Learn what works from other users.You are not alone. You also don't have to figure everything out by yourself. There are thousands of users at Convergence, many of whom have been experiencing the same challenges as you. Convergence is the perfect place to ask questions and learn what works in the real world from real users.

5) Interact with product and support team members.Many of Microsoft's product team support members make it to Convergence. Being able to ask them questions is a phenomenal opportunity. There is nothing like walking through a scenario, in front of the application with a support team member looking over your shoulder.

6) Attend parties.Team Members and Partners are often more relaxed after the event. The social events are a great place to pursue some relationships that pay big dividends down the road. Don't underestimate this opportunity for networking. It's not frivolous. I've gotten some great info from clients.

7) Try something new.Hands-on labs at Convergence provide an opportunity to try out a product or process without worrying about setup, licensing or breaking something. If you've been wondering if a particular module would meet your needs, this is a way to figure it out quickly in a semi-structured environment.

8) Learn about Add-on Solutions.One of the benefits of the Dynamics ecosystem is that it is rich in vendors with applications designed to enhance your solution. This is the perfect place to pull out a list of pain points and see if there is an add-on solution that meets your needs. It doesn't matter if your pain is related to compliance, tax, efficiency or something else entirely; there is probably a third-party solution for you.

9) Learn about related applications.Convergence doesn't just cover the Dynamics applications. Related applications like SQL Server and the Microsoft Office products are covered as well. These products are an integral part of a Dynamics solution, and obtaining more information helps you better leverage your implementation.

10) Quick return on investmentIf you learn one thing that saves you eight hours of consulting time, you've essentially paid for the entrance fee. If you learn how to save two hours a week, you've gained one day-month in productivity. What is that worth to you?

Friday, February 13, 2009


Most people use LinkedIn to “get to someone” in order to make a sale, form a partnership, or get a job. It works well for this because it is an online network of more than 8.5 million experienced professionals from around the world representing 130 industries. However, it is a tool that is under-utilized, so I’ve compiled a top-ten list of ways to increase the value of LinkedIn.

1. Increase your visibility.
By adding connections, you increase the likelihood that people will see your profile first when they’re searching for someone to hire or do business with. In addition to appearing at the top of search results (which is a major plus if you’re one of the 52,000 product managers on LinkedIn), people would much rather work with people who their friends know and trust.

2. Improve your connectability.
Most new users put only their current company in their profile. By doing so, they severely limit their ability to connect with people. You should fill out your profile like it’s an executive bio, so include past companies, education, affiliations, and activities. You can also include a link to your profile as part of an email signature. The added benefit is that the link enables people to see all your credentials, which would be awkward if not downright strange, as an attachment.

3. Improve your Google PageRank.
LinkedIn allows you to make your profile information available for search engines to index. Since LinkedIn profiles receive a fairly high PageRank in Google, this is a good way to influence what people see when they search for you. To do this, create a public profile and select “Full View.” Also, instead of using the default URL, customize your public profile’s URL to be your actual name. To strengthen the visibility of this page in search engines, use this link in various places on the web> For example, when you comment in a blog, include a link to your profile in your signature.

4. Enhance your search engine results.
In addition to your name, you can also promote your blog or website to search engines like Google and Yahoo! Your LinkedIn profile allows you to publicize websites. There are a few pre-selected categories like “My Website,” “My Company,” etc.
If you select “Other” you can modify the name of the link. If you’re linking to your personal blog, include your name or descriptive terms in the link, and voila! instant search-engine optimization for your site. To make this work, be sure your public profile setting is set to “Full View.”

5. Perform blind, “reverse,” and company reference checks.
LinkedIn’s reference check tool to input a company name and the years the person worked at the company to search for references. Your search will find the people who worked at the company during the same time period. Since references provided by a candidate will generally be glowing, this is a good way to get more balanced data.
Companies will typically check your references before hiring you, but have you ever thought of checking your prospective manager’s references? Most interviewees don’t have the audacity to ask a potential boss for references, but with LinkedIn you have a way to scope her out.
You can also check up on the company itself by finding the person who used to have the job that you’re interviewing for. Do this by searching for job title and company, but be sure to uncheck “Current titles only.” By contacting people who used to hold the position, you can get the inside scoop on the job, manager and growth potential.
By the way, if using LinkedIn in these ways becomes a common practice, we’re apt to see more truthful resumes. There’s nothing more amusing than to find out that the candidate who claims to have caused some huge success was a total bozo who was just along for the ride.

6. Increase the relevancy of your job search.
Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find people with educational and work experience like yours to see where they work. For example, a programmer would use search keywords such as “Ruby on Rails,” “C++,” “Python,” “Java,” and “evangelist” to find out where other programmers with these skills work.

7. Make your interview go smoother.
You can use LinkedIn to find the people that you’re meeting. Knowing that you went to the same school, plays hockey, or shares acquaintances is a lot better than an awkward silence after, “I’m doing fine, thank you.”

8. Gauge the health of a company.
Perform an advanced search for company name and uncheck the “Current Companies Only” box. This will enable you to scrutinize the rate of turnover and whether key people are abandoning ship. Former employees usually give more candid opinions about a company’s prospects than someone who’s still on board.

9. Gauge the health of an industry.
If you’re thinking of investing or working in a sector, use LinkedIn to find people who worked for competitors—or even better, companies who failed. For example, suppose you wanted to build a next generation online pet store, you’d probably learn a lot from speaking with former or WebVan employees.

10. Track startups.
You can see people in your network who are initiating new startups by doing an advanced search for a range of keywords such as “stealth” or “new startup.” Apply the “Sort By” filter to “Degrees away from you” in order to see the people closest to you first.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

New Support Procedure

Dear Client,

First let me take this opportunity to say that I hope each of you had a great 2008 and wish each one a prosperous 2009.

The purpose of this email is to inform each of our clients of a new procedure here at Starting this week we have changed our support call procedure to help you the client. From here on out, each time that you have a support issue, in which you would require our assistance, please call (601) 264-0969 ext 112, or send an email to At that point, your support call will be logged and assigned to our support team for completion. Once the issue is resolved, the case will be closed and you will be notified.

One thing to point out. When calling in or emailing your issue, please have as much detailed information as possible. This will allow us to expedite your case.

Please note that by calling in direct to a support technician and not following the above procedure will only delay your call. Support calls that follow the new procedure are priority, and therefore completed first.

If you have any questions concerning the above, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or phone.

Also, if you would like, you may join me on Windows Live Messenger. My Live Messenger ID is If you do not have Windows Live Messenger, you may download it at Windows Live Messenger

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.