• Networking at SharePoint Conferences
    There are dozens of exciting technology conferences on the horizon, and none more buzz-worthy than SharePoint Conference 2014. With the electric climate in our industry, those who haven't yet attended conferences should take the plunge while those who have experience should take the time to refine their conference skills. This entry continues our series on how you can make the most of your next SharePoint conference. Earlier in this series we gave you tips on how to prepare for the conference and tips and tricks to use during the conference itself. Now let's move on to networking.

    Have your pitch materials ready.


    Even if you're not looking for another gig, contract, job, or opportunity, there's no harm in preparing your value pitch. Your value pitch can come in any number of forms: It's simply your way of showing what you bring to the table.

    These days, you'll want two basics: A business card (be absolutely sure to include a link to a personal website or LinkedIn profile) and an elevator speech. The elevator speech is your 15 to 20 second "pitch" on your skills, abilities, accomplishments, and background; the idea is to keep it short enough that you could give it during an elevator ride.

    Network actively but sparingly.

    Everyone you talk to is a potential network connection, but if you try to hand each person a business card and a sales pitch you’ll come off as needy. Find the people who you really have a potential connection with and invest more time and energy in setting the foundations for that relationship.

    Spamming your business information across the convention floor will not help your reputation or bring you professional success. It’s not a numbers game: It’s people game. As such, you need to spend more time in dialogue and more time asking questions—and less marketing yourself directly.

    Use the right networking strategies.


    Networking isn't about giving a sales pitch and getting names. It's about asking useful, thoughtful questions. Having your business card and elevator speech ready is partially just a courtesy to others; while some of the people you meet may have materials prepared for you, most will require that you ask questions to learn what they bring to the table.

    Not many will have a specific value proposition and use-oriented print materials. The people who set of booths, however, have that sort of communication in mind—so you should certainly step over to the booths when you get the chance.

    Plan to use the conference as a social media opportunity.


    Whether it’s through Tweeting, Facebooking, or writing a blog entry, you can leverage the experience and justify the expense by talking about it on your professional outlets. For individuals, this is a way to extend your social networking and develop your reputation. For companies, this can be an opportunity to reach out to new clients and professionals.

    Beyond simply leveraging the conference itself, though, it's important that you keep your social media profiles active so that anyone who scouts you through those online pathways will see that you're an active user. If you're not an active user on Twitter, Facebook, or other outlets, simply don't provide your username on your business card, LinkedIn profile, or other professional hubs.

    By following these simple tips, you can get far more networking done and get far more value out of it. The SharePoint community is strongly social and very bright, but it's often comprised of introverts—so having a networking strategy can only help.

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  • SharePoint Conference 2014 registration opens
    As we noted in earlier entries, Microsoft announced its SharePoint Conference 2014 in June of this year. Details have been slow to surface, but now far more information is becoming available. Most of the new information is certainly in response to the fact that registration is now open.

    The event itself will take place in the Las Vegas Venetian (one of the high-class hotels found on the strip) from March 3rd to March 6th of next year. As soon as the SharePoint conference was announced, the community started buzzing about it. The 2012 conference of the same name was wildly successful and it's anticipated that the 2014 version will be no less spectacular.

    To find out more about the conference or to register directly, you can visit the official website for the event. Event passes range from $150 to $1,995 depending on what sort of access and duration you're looking for. As noted in Microsoft's promotional email, "This is your chance to get an all-access pass to everything that the conference has to offer, from the best sessions to the latest and greatest technology, to unbeatable access to Microsoft pros and industry experts."

    The conference itself is meant to be a "total experience" for improving your understanding, abilities, and connections within SharePoint. Hot topics for the convention include the SharePoint-Yammer breakout session, the Microsoft technology showcase, and the hands-on labs that let you work directly with Microsoft professionals.

    "The content is designed and created specifically for our three SharePoint audiences, IT Professionals, Developers, and Executives," noted Microsoft, and they offer "a complete collection of tracks and topics for each audience." With so many Microsoft innovations in the time since the last conference, there's certain to be a great deal to explore at this event. We hope to see you there!

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  • Less-known features of SharePoint 2013
    More than one Microsoft SharePoint consultant in our company has been working with SharePoint 2013 since the early beta, but these days anyone can take advantage of the newest release. However, our experts can help you learn more about the less obvious features of SP 2013. We're going to share some of the most useful details with you today.

    1) Microsoft is introducing an improved release cycle.


    For those unfamiliar with the term "release cycle," it simply indicates how often you'll see updates to the platform. SharePoint Online will have a 90-day release cycle. This means that you'll see six updates each year, which means that many of the exciting features (integration with Yammer, new search options, etc.) may be closer than you thought.

    2) The FAST search is now a built-in.


    Many SharePoint 2010 users fell in love with the "FAST search" add-on that gave an improved search algorithm, improved previews, and an army of new search functionality. Here's something that those outside of SharePoint consultancy don't usually know: FAST search was actually a project created by a Norwegian, non-Microsoft company; Microsoft bought the add-on, customized it, fine-tuned it, and is now including it from the get-go.

    3) SharePoint 2013 Is Microsoft's Enterprise Social Platform


    Some people are confused by the social elements of this enterprise content management system, and that's largely because "social" is immediately associated with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. SharePoint 2013 isn't aiming to compete with either of these services, but it is bringing social into the enterprise arena with a number of new features. If you haven't been using social before now, you may not have noticed the social feature updates. Take it from us: They're well worth exploring.

    4) Geolocation can be added as a field.


    If you're a small company with little mobility, Geolocation won't add much for you. For larger companies or companies that have road warriors in their ranks, the ability to add a geolocation field is amazingly useful. Adding this feature may require the help of a Microsoft SharePoint consultant, but it's well worth it for companies who can make use of geotagging.

    5) The guest link feature gives new sharing opportunities.


    Sharing is caring, right? You can now bring in even more shared content through the "guest link" feature. This allows anything stored in SharePoint Online to be shared with people who aren't SharePoint users. This makes it easy to send client presentations, give useful information to partner companies, and do far more.

    6) PHP can now be used directly for SharePoint functionality.


    PHP has had a fairly complicated relationship with SharePoint in the past, but they seem to have worked things out: SharePoint functions can be programmed directly in PHP in SharePoint 2013. Even more exciting for some is the inclusion of improved CSS and HTML 5 interaction. There are still some limitations for programming, but there's no doubt coding new functions is far smoother.
    If you want to get in touch with a company experienced with SharePoint consultancy, we encourage you to check out our website and give us a call at (877) 368-7207 for a free consultation.

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  • Earlier this year Microsoft unleashed a new version of the SkyDrive Pro desktop client. Since that May release, SharePoint consulting firms have been taking a good hard look at how SkyDrive and SharePoint can work together to make your business even better.

    As a desktop app, the new version of SkyDrive (available specifically for Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2012) functions as a standalone application that gives SharePoint 2013 users the opportunity to sync their files to the machine. The obvious use is to allow for offline access to important files or to sync to a device that won't have web access so mobile productivity can be enhanced. Office 365 files can also be synchronized to the local system.

    Once the update is installed, it shouldn't require a SharePoint consulting firm to tell you how to synchronize: Simply push the new "sync" button found in the upper-right of the SkyDrive Pro library.

    For some users, this version of SkyDrive won't offer any additional features. Specifically, if you were already using Office 365 Small Business Premium, Office Professional Plus 2013, or Office 365 Pro Plus, you were able to accomplish all the synchronization contained in this SkyDrive update. However, for everyone else, this SkyDrive iteration offers great new functionality.

    Not all users will need to synchronize their files for offline usage, but many benefit from this practice even if it's only an additional precaution in case internet access is lost. SharePoint consulting services can help bring you up to speed on the best practices for cloud-based and offline data storage.

    While automatic updates should give you the new version of SkyDrive, those who don't regularly update may not yet have heard about the new release. The announcement itself was made only through the Microsoft blog and came with little fanfare.

    If you're uncertain how to proceed, SharePoint consulting services can help you make the most out of this new release. Check out our contact page for further details on how we can help.

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