Here are my top 10 tips to maximize a Microsoft MVP in your company.
This post follows on from my previous post What are the Benefits of Employing a Microsoft MVP?
- Explain the Value and Benefit of an MVP to stakeholders
Many people have no idea of the value an MVP can bring to the team and how they should be leveraged for the good of the project. It is essential that this is made clear so that the full benefits of the MVP can be realized.
From roadmap discussions, passing feedback onto the Microsoft product team, raising ideas to Microsoft, getting advice from Microsoft and from other MVPs and leveraging their vast knowledge and relationships.
- Don’t use the acronym MVP unless you have explained it first
This comes down to inclusion, either you choose to make your audience feel dumb when they don’t understand an acronym, or you don’t. Explain the abbreviation and the benefits that come with it in terms that will be most relevant to your audience.
- Formally engage their advice in the direction of your business
MVPs have become MVPs because of a history of demonstrating in-depth knowledge in a specific Microsoft technology. If you are running a Microsoft Business Applications practice, you should leverage this knowledge when it comes to deciding what new technologies to focus on and the direction to take. They can bring insights that can assist you in defining the future direction of your company.
- Get them to ask Microsoft when stuck
If you have a support ticket stuck in the system and keep getting the run-around, use the MVP to run it up the flagpole. They have direct access to the product owner in Microsoft or can find out who can address the issue. Often there is a gap between what Microsoft support know and what the engineer/designer that crafted the product knows.
- Get them to ask other MVPs
- Pay them more than other consultants (if you don’t, someone else will)
When I first became an MVP in 2012, I started to reap the financial rewards and have never stopped. In New Zealand at the time, if someone was employed at a partner and became an MVP, it was common for them to get a raise. I have heard of many people becoming MVPs and in the following weeks get offers from other companies.
It’s a fact in business; it is easier to get a pay rise by moving companies than getting one from an existing employer. Make sure you value the fantastic asset to your business accordingly. Because if you don’t someone else will.
- Encourage them to get involved with the local user group and community
This will build their confidence and promote your brand. It will show their expertise to the market. It will encourage others to take up careers in this space. It will allow them to develop their leadership skills if they are involved in organizing the local user group. If you don’t have a local user group get them to start one, I am happy to help with this if needed.
- Encourage them to speak at Events
A great MVP should be speaking at least once per month at events, either local user groups or conferences. When planning your business year, you should make sure you have a discussion with your MVP and agree on their speaking schedule. It is more critical than billable work for them. Leverage this skill, but don’t ever get them to do a marketing spiel. Their actions and demonstration of their skills are enough, give them a shirt with the company logo if needed, but that is enough. Don’t be that cringe company…
- Prioritize attendance of MVP Summit
You need to send your MVP to Microsoft MVP Summit. Be creative if you need to in order to get this done. Microsoft covers the cost of accommodation and food at the event as well as the event itself. You need to cover their transportation costs for the event and meals outside what is covered by the event.
There are two reasons for this:
- The knowledge they will gain from the Microsoft Product team and expertise from other MVPs. That’s the no brainer.
- Number 2 is the killer reason – Relationship building
You can’t put a price on the value this provides long after the event. It’s the relationship being built with Microsoft staff and other MVPs that delivers value to your business months after the MVP has returned to work.
The private email they can send to a Microsoft person who will open and answer it because they remember the face and the way they felt hanging out with the MVP. Those relationships have opened more doors for me that I could ever imagine.
I had a situation that I had an MVP on my team that wanted to attend MVP Summit. My company rejected the application to pay costs to go to the event from Australia to Seattle. This is where creativity comes in. I provided a week of training that released the person from their project. This left their income intact rather than taking annual leave. I then had them book their ticket out of their pocket but let them expense claim the trip. They were not covered by corporate travel insurance, but that’s it. All sorted, that’s what I mean about getting creative.
- Get them to duplicate themselves with Mentoring
Get the MVP to mentor someone else in your team to become an MVP. Make it a formal process with measurable outcomes. What’s better than one MVP? Two MVPs. When that new MVP becomes an MVP get them to repeat the Mentoring with another staff member and grow your brand with these MVPs.
Take a look at Microsoft partner Hitachi as a great example of this. They have more MVPs in Microsoft Business Applications than anyone else in the world.
- Bonus Tip – Don’t get two MVPs to work on the same project
It’s not a great idea to have more than one MVP on a project; it can create conflict if they are MVPs in the same discipline.
Let me know if you would add any more tips to this list in the comments below.