Time and again, I have been approached by people who are interested in knowing more about the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Program
. Some are interested to know Microsoft’s stand on MVPs, others want to be MVPs themselves, and some others are just curious.
I’ve been asked about the MVP program almost everywhere I’ve represented myself as an MVP – workplaces, customer locations, industry events, user group events, job interviews and even at social gatherings.
So I thought its about time I compiled an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) on the MVP Program!
I am an MCP. How do I become an MVP?
Which exams to pass so that I can become an MVP?
(No, don’t laugh – its the most common question I get)
None. You don’t need to pass any exams to become an MVP. The MVP is not a certification. It is an award given annually to selected individuals within the IT community for their outstanding contributions to technology and the community in general. Although MVPs are usually Microsoft certified, there is no reason to have any certification to be considered for an MVP. Read on.
I am an expert and I think I’m too good. Can I become an MVP?
Being an expert does not entitle you to become an MVP. An expert who is willing to voluntarily share this knowledge to the community (i.e. other IT professionals/developers/users) is an ideal candidate for the MVP Award.
How do I become an MVP?
Better rephrase your question to: “How do I contribute to the community so that I may be considered for the MVP?”
Be prepared for the long haul. Ask yourself the question: “Do I just want to become an MVP so that I can use the MVP title with my name?”. If deep inside, your answer is ‘yes’, then this title isn’t for you.
OK. So how does one contribute to communities?
MVPs usually have an in-built passion for sharing knowledge. They feel great when they express themselves. They feel delighted when they radiate their knowledge to peers. MVPs share knowledge by speaking at IT events, running an active user group, maintaining technical blogs and websites, contributing to forums, producing technical webcasts/podcasts, writing books, whitepapers, etc.
The important thing is that it should come from within you – its a mentality to share information voluntarily. I think its second nature to most MVPs. You cannot force yourself to do this – if you do, you might just end up breaking out from the program because you will gradually lose interest.
MVPs also act as an indirect feedback channel to Microsoft. Being extraordinary customers, Microsoft gets a pulse of what customers feel about their products and services.
I am too busy to do some of this stuff. Can I still become an MVP? Is there any shortcut?
MVPs are busy people, too. We are normal people with a job, a family and a life. This has got more to do with developing a passion and moving forward with it. There are no shortcuts. MVPs are a select group of experts, handpicked by Microsoft. That’s why there are so few MVPs and thats why all of them are so good!
Do you have any tips for me?
Yes. Here are some. These are my views alone – all MVPs need not agree on all points.
1. MVPs have a basic inclination towards Microsoft products and technologies. I mean, we really love the company! And we are crazy about it. Most MVP’s (like me, for instance) will never be able to hear and accept distorted images about Microsoft even when nobody’s looking! We just can’t stand someone talking ill about the company and will defend Microsoft – with educated and professional counter-arguments.
2. Behave yourself. Do not use abusive/insulting language at forums, speaking engagements, etc. You are an alternative face of the company. MVPs are closely associated with Microsoft and they wouldn’t want you to do anything that they would not do.
3. Understand Microsoft’s policies, and study the reasons behind them. Respect the ideals of the company and speak respectfully. Be careful on what you say in public and online in your blog, forums, etc.
4. More at Robert McLaw’s blog.
Does Microsoft pay you? Why do you promote Microsoft for free?
No, Microsoft doesn’t pay MVPs. Although MVPs indirectly promote Microsoft products, we do it out of passion for the technology. For most MVP’s, Microsoft technologies are our bread & butter. We are usually specialized on one or more Microsoft products. It’s pure passion. Contribution to communities and securing the MVP status gives us a feeling of achievement.
Does being an MVP help you in your career?
Even though a direct monetary gain from Microsoft is absent, the MVP title has significant career benefits. The Most Valuable Professional award stands out in your resumé and MVP’s are in great demand in the industry, especially for positions that require expertise in Microsoft products. The MVP title is a trusted seal that we are known experts in the industry, directly endorsed by Microsoft for sharing knowledge. Speakers who are passionate about sharing knowledge are usually people of good character, personable and well-spoken – which are traits that employers usually desire in employees. Hiring an MVP who participates in public events often indirectly brings fame to the employer. Some MVPs eventually make it into Microsoft too.
Am I too young/old/short/tall/fat/ugly/etc to become an MVP?
The MVP Program knows no discrimination, except in the passion to share and the desire to lead. Young and old alike can become MVPs. As Robert McLaws puts it: “DON’T be elitist just because you’ve been in the industry for a while. You won’t be around forever, and someone younger than you will eventually take your place. In this industry, you can be relevant one day, irrelevant the next.”
Update: As of April 2006, MVPs must be at least 18 years of age.