Being An MVP 2016

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Five years ago I wrote “Being an MVP”. I was in my third year of the program and put down my thoughts on the MVP program and my experience with it.

October is my renewal month which means in a couple of days I will know if I am an MVP for another 12 months. This will make it my eighth year in the program.

So what has changed over the past five years.

What is an MVP?

This has not really changed too much in five years. This being said, the definition on Wikipedia has changed. The old one was:

“The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) is the highest award given by Microsoft to those it considers “the best and brightest from technology communities around the world” who “actively share their … technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft”.

Now it reads.

“Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award is given to “exceptional, independent community leaders who share their passion, technical expertise, and real-world knowledge of Microsoft products with others.” The awarded are people who “actively share their … technical expertise with the different technology communities related directly or indirectly to Microsoft”.

Clearly the tone has softened a bit. We are no longer the ‘’best and brightest” receiving the “highest award given by Microsoft” but the theme is the same. The MVP program is for people that do stuff in the Microsoft communities beyond their day job. Microsoft recognise that this saves them significant support dollars and helps people adopt their products and so they publicly award them.

One key word in this description is “independent”. You will see I call out the weaker aspects of Dynamics CRM and its related products in my blog and do not promote every new thing Microsoft churns out blindly. Also, as a group, generally at Summit, if there are aspects of the product which drive us really nuts, we will tell the product team directly and unambiguously.

Passion is also a requirement. If you are not happy doing stuff for the community instead of playing X-Box or scrolling through Instagram, being an MVP is not for you.

The only other part I will call out is “real world knowledge”. In the five years since my original article, I have not gained any more programming skills. I am a CRM Architect that can configure Dynamics CRM within an inch of its life. The MVP award is for people who discuss Microsoft products in the real world, not in the lab. Technical knowledge is great. Demonstrating how that technical knowledge can be used to make the world a better place is what makes MVPs.

Has the Program Changed in Five Years?

One aspect that has changed with the program is the categories under which an MVP sits. I used to be a Dynamics CRM MVP and the program used to be very product specific. The categories of MVP are not longer completely product-based. For example, I am now a Business Solutions MVP. Business Solutions covers all the Dynamics products, including the ERP products. I cannot say I am overjoyed with this particular change in the program but it is what it is.

Also, an MVP can contribute to more than one area and be recognised for it. So ,for example, if I was also a passionate blogger on Excel, as well as a Business Solutions MVP, I could be an Office System MVP as well.

How Do I Become An MVP?

Arguably the hardest question to answer properly and not a lot has changed in this regard in five years. The simplest answer is to get nominated. You can even nominate yourself. Here is the link if you are interested.

That will only get your name in front of the decision makers though (I still do not formally know who they are although I can guess). You will still need to back it up. Generally I advise people who are keen to become an MVP that they have 12 months of visible community activity e.g. a blog, running a user group etc. which can be easily validated before getting nominated.

Another thing you can do is get to know your local MVPs and collaborate with them. A nomination from an existing MVP is, frankly, better than a self-nomination and, again, the work you do can be easily verified.

Community Contributions

This also is, essentially, the same as it was five years ago e.g.

  • Participating in online forums relating to a Microsoft product
  • Blogging/Tweeting about a Microsoft product
  • Deliver talks
  • Organise community events

As already noted, my advice would be to focus on activities which Microsoft can verify online or through the MVPs.

Benefits of the Program

These have not changed too much over the years. For me, the biggest benefit is the MVP Summit. Meeting the Microsoft Dynamics CRM Product Team is great but also meeting my fellow CRM MVPs from around the world is a big part of the conference for me.

What Do I Do To Remain in the Program

This has evolved a little over five years but not too much. I still pump out three articles per month, mostly on Dynamics CRM. I tweet when I see something of interest which is too brief to generate a blog post from and I speak both in real life and online on Dynamics CRM at user groups and online conferences.

As was the case when I wrote my article five years ago, I am writing this when the rest of the house has gone to bed, just past midnight on a Friday.

My Experience With the Program

My experience continues to be positive and I hope to be renewed this year and future years. It is a good community to be part of with all MVPs willing to offer assistance or advice when it is needed.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned last time, it is a tough gig but if community activity is something you are doing already, the MVP program may be a quick win for you.

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