How Microsoft Builds Relationships With Industry Influencers


Microsoft’s got a strong evangelism program and it spends a lot of time courting influencers. It’s an effective means of marketing as they know word of mouth, especially from the people others in the industry respect, is often the reason people purchase technology products.

At Silicon Valley Code Camp, I spoke with Scott Kerfoot, senior director of technology evangelism for Microsoft. I asked him how it goes about connecting with influencers.

Kerfoot describes some techniques:

  • Educate yourself – What’s hot? How can you connect a Microsoft product to a trend?
  • Go where influencers are – Just being at Silicon Valley Code Camp is critical for Microsoft. It’s the place to pick up on the buzz and tell attendees about new technologies.
  • Reach out to presenters – Chances are those people presenting are going to be influencers. Heck, they’re speaking to a group so they have the power to influence in that manner. Start talking to them.
  • Follow key people on Twitter – Microsoft is always on the lookout for key industry people to follow on Twitter. If they’re going to be at an event, they’ll go out of their way to make an introduction.
  • Follow key bloggers and book authors – Same as following users on Twitter.
  • Give influencers access to early information – One of the ways people remain influencers in their public’s eye is they get access to early information. Continue to feed that need so that they can maintain their appearance of influence.
  • Give influencers training and education – If an influencer wants better understanding over a domain, give them the necessary tools and knowledge.

Ultimately, Microsoft’s trying to create a win-win for the influencer and Microsoft. After Microsoft provides the information and training, they just ask the influencer tell the story about the technology to their audience.

But wait, I’m not an influencer yet I still want to connect with Microsoft evangelists

With only eight Microsoft evangelists at an event like Silicon Valley Code Camp, it’s impossible to have deep conversations with 2,000-plus people. But you can go out of your way to be the one that initiates a connection with a Microsoft evangelist.

Kerfoot’s suggestions:

  • Check out the schedule at The Flash – This newsletter lets you know where all the evangelists are going to be and when they’re going to be doing presentations. Meet them in person at their presentation.
  • Read evangelists’ blogs – Interact with them online. Comment or email them.