Vitamin C: Microsoft officially launches Community Connections

A hallmark of the SMB Nation events is that we attempt to marry “BusinessSpeak” with “GeekSpeak.” It’s a formula that has served us well as we try to elevate our inner-techie into the mini-MBA world. Attendees at the just completed SMB Nation Fall conference were given a sneak peak at something Microsoft has just publicly announced today: Microsoft Community Connections.

ADDED: Watch my FLIP vid here as I interview Microsoft Redmond executives today on this topic:

Community Connections effectively lives out a popular bumper sticker: Think Globally, Act Locally. Or for good measure – how about another old saw every US Senator knows “All politics is local.” Microsoft has rebooted it’s SMB outreach to have a strictly local focus with Community Connections because:

  • Over 50% of SMBs only sell locally
  • SMBs tend to buy locally when the economy is underperforming
  • SMBs rely on local trusted business advisors
  • Partners “asked” Microsoft to play small ball and go local.

Here is how Community Connections works. It is an “offer” in its v1.0 release that “connects” the SMB channel partner (err…Microsoft partner) with a local business community organization (like a Chamber of Commerce).

      • 2 Free copies of Windows 7 for Local Business Community Organizations (LBCO)
      • $150 Services Voucher to be applied to installation at the LBCO by a local Microsoft partner (like our SMB Nation tribal members)
      • LET assistance to conduct live Windows 7 events with local Microsoft partners – event materials, product offers and funding
  • $150 Services Voucher to be applied to installation at the customer that purchases a Windows 7 Open Volume license agreement  from a Microsoft partner

So just “who” are these LBCO’s that qualify? Here is what Microsoft told me:

  • Currently Eligible: Non-profit 501 (c) 3’s, 4’s and 6’s: Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, Business Leagues, Diversity Organizations
  • Not Currently Eligible: Government Funded Agencies, Schools, Non-business Community Organizations

(Note to self – see if Harry Jr’s Bainbridge Island soccer league qualifies)

Let me translate the above conversation into plain talk. Basically you install two copies of Win7 at your local Chamber of Commerce and Microsoft pays for an hour or two ($150 USD total) of your time to complete the work. Then you “team up” and hold a customer-facing event with the Chamber to promote Win7 and attract clients for you to serve. Then Microsoft provides YET ANOTHER $150 voucher for your time/services (again – one or two billable hour practically speaking) for you to deploy Win7 at the customer site. This has shades of the infamous SBS 2000 VAR/VAP $500 rebate in 2002 from the MSFT SBS team (Katy Hunter, Jerome Stewart, et al), eh?

I had a good conversation with two Microsoft executives yesterday afternoon about this lucrative local offer. “We’re embracing the local community to increasing our investment in interesting and unique ways” shared Dave Waldrop, Director, Strategic Alliances and Local Engagement at Microsoft. Paige Boesen, Sr. Business Development Manager, US Strategic Alliances at Microsoft added “Harry, since I’ve known you for about a decade, this further demonstrates our long term commitment to the channel and the new trend is to focus local.” Fair enough.

My final take on this? I am delighted Microsoft is getting my beloved break-fix techies to even go to the Chamber of Commerce and become more business-like. And big surprise – you can make more money doing it via Community Connections.

To watch a webinar and learn more about this JUST ANNOUNCED DEAL, visit

LBCO’s that you know can sign up at



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