Full disclosure, I am an MVP 🙂 although this post may sound like I am just feathering my nest, this is not the case. I have attracted and hired MVPs to the practices I have worked in the past. I’m writing this post from both the point of view of a practice manager, and also covering what I have previously done to add value to my employer outside of what I do in the community.
For the MVPs reading this, I would be interested in your feedback on what you do to add massive value to your employer and customers.
Not all MVPs are created equal; just because Microsoft has bestowed this title on an individual it does not mean the MVP automatically starts adding value to the company. This needs to be discussed between management and the individual to agree on how the MVP and the employer can maximize the synergy of the relationship so both the employee and the MVP can add more value to customers and the company.
Adding Value to your Customers
A great MVP will leverage their knowledge and relationships to benefit the customer.
Five Ways MVPs can Improve Your Company
A great MVP will have in-depth domain knowledge as well as near term insight into Microsoft’s strategic direction with the product that they specialize in, and this can be used to inform the strategy for the company.
A great MVP will have developed relationships on two fronts.
First, they have built relationships with people on the product team that grant them access to the individual. I was often surprised to find that I was able to build relationships with people on the product team that Microsoft staff based outside the US did not have access to due to the organization the size of Microsoft. When you meet with this people year after year, event after event, you build a relationship that goes beyond them just transferring knowledge.
The second is other MVPs. With a global network of MVPs around the world, working for partners large and small on diverse projects, you do not need to go far to find someone that has the same problem you are trying to solve or who has been in a situation you are currently in.
From recommendations for an ISV product or insights into an industry vertical; the other MVPs are a short message away, and this is a massive benefit in the time it saves to get these insights.
Great MVPs are passionate about the software or technology they specialize in. They most likely have become an MVP because of that passion. This can be leveraged by the company they work for in customer engagement as well as training other staff. If they speak at events and user groups, your company is associated with that passion.
I’ll give you an example. While working in Sydney, I established six user groups across Australia. One day while attending the Sydney User Group, a lady who was visiting from another country came up to me and said ‘I want to work for you’. Weeks later she had moved to Australia and was employed by my company. She was an outstanding hire and years later went on to work for Microsoft.
Great MVPs will often lead, not by title but by action. They will look for ways to empower others by sharing their knowledge. They will mentor other team members. They are open and share what they know and try to add value to the teams they find themselves in. They are inclusive and look for ways to create community and lead those communities.
Most MVPs create content in some format. This may be blog posts, answers to questions in forums, the creation of software and tools for the greater good of the community, or video creation on YouTube. As a partner, you should be looking to leverage this.
For example, if the MVP has their own blog, can you repurpose their content on the company blog? Keep in mind that technical content does not necessarily make great content for some company websites.
Let me explain. In two of the companies I have worked in, I instigated a blogging strategy on the company website. Over time it grew to the point that a blog post was going live seven days a week 365 days of the year.
That’s a lot of fresh, new content. It established technical thought leadership, so the content attracted other practitioners in the community and became a tool to attract new talent to the company. BUT it was no good for attracting target customers as it was not aligned with their buying behaviour.
MVP and Pre-Sales
A Microsoft Partner should leverage an MVP in pre-sales. When competing against other Microsoft partners, sometimes MVPs can be a differentiator in the sale.
But don’t just throw out the acronym “oh we have an MVP” or “Mark is an MVP”. Like most three-letter acronyms they do nothing to educate and only confuse the audience that has never heard the acronym (a sin committed by many in our ecosystem).
Instead, introduce the MVP as a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, also known as a Microsoft MVP. Then you can answer the question: what is the benefit of having an MVP associated with your project?
It is to make sure that we don’t build anything that Microsoft has in the roadmap, you save on dev cycles, you get access to these insights and benefit from the relationships the MVP has with Microsoft should the need arise.
I hope you get what I am saying: introduce the MVP, qualify them and the benefits the customer gains by having an MVP on the project.
What have I missed when it comes to benefits an employer gains when employing a Microsoft MVP?
In my next post, I will cover ten tips for maximizing an MVP in your practice.