What is the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Program
Microsoft MVP Certification
First, I want to clear something up straight away. There is no such thing as a Microsoft MVP Certification. Microsoft MVP Certification just does not exist so you can stop searching for it. For some reason, people have it their minds that you can pass an MVP Certification but it flat out does not exist, so anyone that tells you differently is wrong.
What is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional?
To me, I like to think of an MVP as a maven that is a trusted expert in a field, who seeks to pass timely and relevant knowledge on to others in their respective field. If you really want to understand what a maven is, read the book:
In this book, he says Mavens are “information specialists”, or “people we rely upon to connect us with new information”. They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others. Mavens are not followers, but leaders. They do not copy but create massive value for others.
Who runs the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional Award Program?
This award program is run by Microsoft and there is a team of people involved in administering the program for Microsoft around the world. This team of people are responsible for setting direction and evolving the program. But outside of this group there are three key people who directly impact the individuals who are selected as Microsoft MVPs.
Those three people are:
- Community Program Manager (CPM)
- Community Product Lead (CPL)
- Phantom… (after years of being in this program, I’m still not sure who this person is. I’ve heard whispers and theories, but nothing concrete enough to put in writing).
The Community Program Manager is the person who affects you getting into the program, once you have been nominated. Phantom and Community Product Lead only come into the mix after the first person has decided that you are a valuable contributor to the community. They will be the ones assessing the quality and quantity of your contributions over time.
Annual Award and Renewal
Once you have been awarded into the program you are safe for a bit but note, this is not a lifetime award. This is an award for one year based on the previous year of contribution (value) you have made to the community. So, to put it simply: add value or exit.
I have been asked many times about what you need to do to become an MVP. Simply, you need to add value in a product area that Microsoft is investing in. Follow the money as they say. When Microsoft invests in a specific product it is because they are expecting growth for that product and increased revenue. MVPs that have been in the program for a long time get upset when they do not get renewed because the area they have specialized in is no longer a focus for Microsoft. If you want to stay in the program, add value in a product area that Microsoft is investing in.
So, what do you need to do get nominated?
There isn’t a set formula, but this is what I think you need to do to get nominated. This is my opinion, based on my own experience and what I have observed. Big caveat up front – I can’t guarantee if you follow these steps that you’ll become an MVP.
All the MVP’s I know in recent years have upped their game when it comes to contributions. For myself, I know I now contribute well over 10x of what I contributed to get in the program initially. The bar is getting higher and higher all the time and what Microsoft is focusing on is changing.
Bring your “A” game people, this is a marathon, not a sprint.
Setup a spreadsheet and start tracking your contributions to make it easier for the person assessing you. Consider including the following:
- Contribution Name and Type. Here are some examples; speaking at an event, writing a blog post, doing a podcast. Answering questions on Microsoft forums. Record a “how to” video, or record a video series. Join the committee of a user group. Write a book on the product you are wanting to get your MVP in. Create an open-source tool for the community that solves challenges or saves time.
- Link to the individual content or event you spoke at so it can be validated
- Stats – How many people engaged with your content? So for a blog, make sure you have Google analytics installed. Most platforms have states tracking, so include this information to show reach and impact.
Personally, I think creating video content is a big focus area currently. Consider starting a YouTube channel and post:
- How-to videos
- What you are learning videos
- Training videos
- Demo videos
- Podcast videos
- Live event videos
As I said this is a long game you are playing, so do this for a couple of years and then seek to get nominated. It not easy, is it! But if you are in this for the long game it is worth it.
Then ask an existing MVP or Microsoft employee to nominate you and give them the file with the tracking you have been doing so they can submit it with their nomination. Make sure you have a relationship with this person as they will be vouching for you. Most people that would consider doing this for you do not take this lightly.
Remember being an MVP is about adding massive value to the community around your product speciality. As I like to say, ask – connect – share.