D'Arcy from Winnipeg
Solution Architecture, Business & Entrepreneurship, Microsoft, and Adoption

MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

Thursday, January 5, 2012 12:52 AM

I received the good news on Jan 1st that, for the 4th year in a row, I was awarded a Microsoft MVP award for ASP.NET/IIS.

There’s some movement as there always is – some people not getting renewed their MVP award, new people attaining it. Some people have publically voiced how they turned down the award or just didn’t bother working for it for a variety of reasons that I won’t get into here. There’s also been some passionate Twitter discussions around community and groups and how valid they are, etc. etc.

But instead of adding to all that, I figured I’d focus on those new MVPs and give some insights from my experience in the program on how to maximize this opportunity.

Be Proud of Your MVP

Achieving an MVP award means you did *something* to deserve it. You were involved with user groups, code camps, speaking engagements, posting on forums, writing blogs, writing books, etc. The fact that Microsoft is recognizing your accomplishments isn’t something to take for granted, regardless of how secretive and closed the selection process is (a favourite complaint of many).

Go To Summit, Meet People, Meet Your Product Team

The MVP Global Summit is the highlight for MVPs every year, and provides an opportunity for us to network with each other and also with the product team members that our MVP designation is attached to.

However, understand that just because you’re an MVP you’re not going to be given the keys to the kingdom right away. Depending on the product group you’re part of you may or may not be privy to as much info as you were hoping. This might be confusing since we’re under NDA anyway, and we’re attached to the product groups, so why not share every little detail?

My view is that MVPs have shot themselves in the foot in the past. Every year it seems that there’s at least a few MVPs that get kicked out of the program because they tweeted, blogged, or posted pictures of NDA material. This is why its important to get to know your product team – the more comfortable they are with you and the more they trust you personally, the more access you’ll get.

Keep in mind that Microsoft has been very secretive over the last few years on a number of technologies. Microsoft employees here in Canada can’t even comment on “that operating system that might be coming out in the next few years” publically at any event. So if you’re wondering why the WP7 team won’t show you what’s coming two releases from now, don’t take it personally. Just get personal with them and your chances of being in the know will improve.

Get to Know Your MVP Lead

We are *spoiled* in Canada to have Simran and Ljupco head up the MVP program. They’re phenomenal leads who make a point of not only keeping in touch via email but actually visiting MVPs in their cities (Sim was in Winnipeg not too long ago). Your MVP lead can be a huge advocate for you within the MVP program and can also provide insight in how to maximize your MVP benefits. Drop him/her an email, set up a call, schedule to meet at the MVP Summit…do something to touch base with your lead.

Get Involved in the MVP Forums and Email Lists

To be honest, I don’t do this much but I have my circle of colleagues and friends who happen to be MVPs that I talk to via Twitter or email on a daily basis. When you’re starting out, its a good thing to get on the forums and the email lists as another way to connect with others in the MVP community.

Investigate MVP Perks

There’s a tonne of perks provided for MVPs from 3rd party companies. Ask other MVPs in your group and someone will be able to direct you to information on them.

Oh You Fancy Huh? Don’t Be!

There are a number of people in the greater dev ecosystem that do tonnes yet are never awarded an MVP designation. There are also those that get awarded MVP designations that have different focuses or degrees of experience with a technology/product and different levels of expertise. So the warning here is just don’t let this go to your head. Instead, focus on how you can leverage the benefits of being an MVP for yourself and also your employer, your local dev community, and your fellow MVPs.

Have Fun!

The MVP program has been a fun one to be a part of over the last four years, and I’ve had some great experiences. It’s not a perfect program, but there’s a lot of good in it and a lot of opportunity, so have fun!

If You Go To Summit, Head to Bush Gardens After the Attendee Party for Karaoke with the SQL Server MVPs

Go to summit, find a SQL Server MVP, find out if Bush Gardens is a go for this year. Trust me, a legendary night awaits!

Enjoy your MVP award and welcome to the program!


# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

And you sir have encapsulated the things I enjoy about the MVP program! 1/5/2012 12:58 AM | Rob

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

Excellent points and I fully agree that Canadians have some of the better MVP leads.
Communication between MVPs and the MVP programme is a two way street. You need to let your leads know who you are and establish a strong dialog with your product team. Trust comes out of familiarity. 1/5/2012 2:13 AM | John Marshall

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

Nice writeup! I came here from another MVPs blog, John Marshall. He's a great MVP in our local area, always willing to share and encourage!

I especially enjoyed your part about not sitting back and taking your MVP for granted, keep working hard! Very cool! Not something I see our local MVPs doing, BUT something I'm sure other mvps might fall into the trap of doing.

Thanks for your blog, keep it up, and someday I do hope to make it out for Prarie DevCon. 1/5/2012 1:20 PM | PHenry

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

Thanks for the insight.

I am one of those who is a first time awardee, so any advice is welcome.

I appreciate you taking the time to give us your thoughts.

Cheers. 1/5/2012 1:52 PM | Kirby Y

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

Hi' It's Not my first year as MVP but It will be my first Summit :-)
I have an important question : who is the DJ for the karaoke and how to contact him ?
Thanks 1/5/2012 3:42 PM | Fred LE GUEN

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

Haha, on the last paragraph. We SQL Server folks even have a site dedicate to our SQLKaraoke. 1/5/2012 5:46 PM | Jason Strate

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

For the first timers going to summit be sure to check out my webcast about going to the summit.

http://itknowledgeexchange.techtarget.com/sql-server/mvp-summit-first-timers-ive-got-a-webcast-for-you/ 1/5/2012 5:55 PM | Denny Cherry

# re: MVP Program Thoughts for New Awardees

And check out the post "What to expect at your first MVP Summit" @ http://www.ehloworld.com/964 1/7/2012 8:18 AM | Pat Richard

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