Previewing Community Summit 2021 with Heather Williams

As Community Summit 2021 is just around the corner, we decided now is the perfect time to sit down with one of our very own team members who has borderline unparalleled experience with the conference. Heather Williams, as you are likely already aware, was with Dynamic Communities for over 13 years and played an integral part in the growth of the user groups. While she is attending her first (in-person) Summit from the perspective of a Dynamics partner this year, her experience is insightful for every type of attendee; from partner to end user.

community summit 2021

Here’s what she had to say about Summit 2021 in Houston:

What are you most looking forward to, attending your first Summit as a Partner/Sponsor?

For this time around and under the circumstances, seeing people that understand what I do for a living is going to be appreciated. 😊 Seriously though, Summit has always been the community event and I am looking forward to shaking hands from the side of being a partner who helps customers implement and support their Dynamics investment. It will be a new corner for me, but one I am excited to be in and ultimately my end goal of helping end users has not changed.

Any particular sessions you are excited about?

Well, obviously the sessions by our Ellipse experts are on my list. You’ve got Blane giving the CE folks some awesome Tips & Tricks, Kim & Brion talking Commerce with F&O, Bobby delivering “quality” content, and Trisha reporting in with D365 Electronic Reporting.

Outside of our team, you have 600+ others to choose from, so tons of great stuff. I would say to earmark sessions hosted by MVPs as they tend to have great expertise and Microsoft knowledge that is unparalleled. I have to shout out my friend and MVP, Kelly, who has some great ones if you’re looking for a place to start. Whatever session you attend, be sure you ask questions and connect with the speaker. They are giving their knowledge of the topic in hopes of connecting with their audience and helping them so please take advantage of that.

Word on the street is there is a party on Wednesday, what’s happening?

Word spreads fast!  It is true we are hosting a party with three fantastic Dynamics ISVs: Dynamicweb, PaceJet, and Vertex. The party will be on Wednesday evening, October 13th from 8pm to 10pm at Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar in downtown Houston. Stop by any of our booths (we’re in #1841) to get a wristband and join us for an evening of much-needed fun. Feel free to contact us beforehand if you have any questions!

Summit 2021 Party

What advice could you give someone on how to navigate the expo floor?

Expos can be daunting and also an endless hole. I always tell people to make a list ahead of time of the solutions you are looking to investigate and/or the partners you want to learn more about. Before getting to the event, go to the virtual expo floorplan and locate the partners you are interested in.  Make your plan of when you are going to speak with them and reserve plenty of time because you never know, you might get the right person to talk to right on the expo floor! The key to it all, the follow up. Make sure that after Summit you follow up on all the leads and don’t let the hustle and bustle of the daily grind keep you from taking action on your plans and initiatives.

What’s something great about Summit that people may overlook?

The Medic Stations! The Medic stations are manned by some of the community’s best experts on pretty much any topic or area of interest you can imagine. Something troubling you with your environment? Need ideas for solving a production issue? Reports aren’t running smoothly and can’t find the bug?  This is the place to go.

How can users get the most out of the show?

I think I alluded to it a few times here, but it really all comes down to planning your time at the event. You likely won’t solve all or even any of your problems AT Summit, but it will be the connections you make and the information you learn and take back to your organization that will be the game changer for you.  After the event, everyone gets back into the grind so following through with the follow up is always key.

What advice would you give someone who struggles with networking?

This is a good question as not everyone finds it easy to walk into a room of many people they don’t know and strike up a conversation; yet one of the biggest values of Summit is the networking opportunities. Here are some tips to help us all make the most of meeting new people.

  • Take advantage of any of the planned networking activities, receptions and meetings. These typically have some type of structure, or at the very least a welcoming group, and are a great place for you to meet people who won’t hesitate to introduce you to others.
  • If traveling without a work colleague, find a conference friend on day 1. You could even ask your partner if they are attending and meet with them.  Having a friendly face is always helpful in easing anxiety and helps with introductions to new people.
  • Go into the day/event with a top 3 list of the most important people you want to meet. Outline the important things you want to take from a conversation with them. Being prepared for the encounter will help ease your nerves to talk with them and the rest will happen naturally.
  • Lastly, if you are the social butterfly, then look for someone sitting alone or seemingly by themselves. Introduce yourself and if the opportunity arises, include them in your conference plans. We could all use a conference buddy!

BONUS: Heather’s Top 5 Quick Tips for Trade Shows/Conventions

  1. Bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes and alternate them throughout the day. I promise you, your feet will thank you.
  2. Pack blister Band-Aids just in case you don’t do number 1!
  3. Meeting rooms can be cold (they do this to keep you awake 😊) so bring a light sweater, jacket or dress in layers
  4. Eye drops and breath mints – ESSENTIALS for a trade show!
  5. For this year, let’s be kinder than ever before.  It’s been a tough two years and I think we all need the friendly faces!
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