Whether you’ve heard of the Microsoft MVP Award and are wondering how to earn it yourself, or just curious as to what others have done to earn this recognition form Microsoft, here’s a brief explanation into the What and How of the Microsoft MVP Award.
The Microsoft MVP Award is an award Microsoft gives out to a select group of community leaders who make an impact everyday in the overall Microsoft technology community. Microsoft MVPs do a lot of work in their own time, with nothing expected in return other than the self-gratification that they’re helping others do great things. The MVP Award is a way for Microsoft to say “Thanks!” to these industry experts in the Microsoft technology space.
To give you an idea of how I know what I’m talking about with this article, I need to let you know that I’ve been awarded Microsoft MVP a total of 8 times as of this writing. So I have fair amount of experience in this area.
Before we discuss how to earn the award, and become a Microsoft MVP, let’s cover a few things like “What is the MVP Award?” and “Who are MVPs?”
What is the Microsoft MVP Award program?
The Microsoft MVP Award recognizes individual experts, who are not Microsoft employees, for their amazing community contributions to the community around Microsoft technologies. MVP stands for Most Valuable Professional, and is an annual award given to roughly 4,000 recipients each year spanning 90 countries around the world. The program started in the mid-1990’s and continues today as a way for Microsoft to say “Thanks!” to those community leaders who evangelize (or advocate) Microsoft products on their own time, while maintaining a passion for helping others.
The contributions Microsoft MVPs make to the overall community range from speaking engagements, to social media interaction, to writing books, to helping answer questions in online forums / communities, provide a huge impact. As a reward for doing all this “work” without expecting anything in return, Microsoft MVPs are given some benefits such as early access to Microsoft products, and direct communication channels to the product teams working on those products. Microsoft also hosts an exclusive, annual Global MVP Summit where they invite all Microsoft MVPs to come to Redmond at Microsoft HQ.
How do I become a Microsoft MVP?
Microsoft MVPs contribute a lot to the Microsoft technology community. They perform many types of activities in their efforts of interacting with and helping out the IT community; both online and offline. The checklist to becoming a Microsoft MVP is rather short, but still a difficult list to achieve.
Here’s the simplified list of what to do:
- Be an expert in your specific Microsoft technology area
- Make lots of contributions to the community that make an impact with others who are using those same technologies you’ve become an expert with.
- Through the community contributions and impact that’s make, you need to get noticed by others in the community.
It’s important to keep in mind that the contributions that Microsoft MVPs make are all done in their “spare time”. One of the requirements of getting awarded Microsoft MVP is that your contributions are not part of your daily job.
There’s not any specific roadmap to becoming a Microsoft MVP. Every MVP has a different story to what impact they make in the community through the various contributions they make. As a result, each Microsoft MVP contributes in different ways that are unique to their specific strengths.
Here’s a list of some of the different community contributions that Microsoft MVPs make:
- Speaking at conferences and/or user group events
- Writing blog articles
- Interact across social media channels
- Contribute to Open Source projects that are hosted on sites like GitHub
- Answer questions asked by others across online forums, StackOverflow, and/or official Microsoft forums
- Lead and/or Organize technical meetups or events
To be awarded Microsoft MVP, you do not need to contribute and make a community impact in all of the different ways listed above. You’re also not limited to those specific areas either. The key to the award is that you make a significant impact to the community as an Expert in the Microsoft technology space.
Personally, I don’t expect to be awarded Microsoft MVP. I feel humbled to be included in this amazing community of industry experts. I really contribute to the community as I do since I have a passion for sharing and helping others, and the MVP award is an amazing side effect of that. It feels great to be recognized for the things you spend tons of time doing, and would really do anyway, regardless.
Something I’ve always believed is that if you just contribute to earn Microsoft MVP then you likely do not deserve it. Also, you likely won’t stick with it, or spend enough time doing it to get awarded anyway if your motives are that selfish. Microsoft MVPs present, help others, engage the community, and make an impact because they have a passion to do so.
How is the MVP Award given?
The process of assessing whether to award someone with the annual Microsoft MVP award, the previous 12 months of community contributions and accomplishments are reviewed. If an individual is awarded Microsoft MVP, they will have demonstrated their expertise and impact within a specific award category for their specific Microsoft technology expertise area. They’re not awarded as a general Microsoft expert in all things Microsoft; this would be way too broad as compared to what’s realistically possible.
When awarded Microsoft MVP, the award lasts for 1 year from the award date. In order to remain a Microsoft MVP after that 1 year period, you actually need to be re-awarded again for the next award period. Those awarded are only “active” Microsoft MVPs during that 1 year period after being awarded. It’s also not a 1 time award, and many Microsoft MVPs have been re-awarded many years in a row.
In fact, I was first awarded Microsoft MVP from 2008 through 2012, and then I again in 2017, 2018, and now 2019. Just because you’re not re-awarded as a Microsoft MVP, doesn’t mean you can’t be awarded again in the future. It all depends on your community contributions, and the impact your making across the community. As you can see I had a 5 year span where I didn’t earn the Microsoft MVP award before being awarded again.
Currently, the Microsoft MVP Award program awards new MVPs on the first of every month, and re-award existing Microsoft MVPs on July 1st each year. Each recipient is either an existing MVP being re-awarded, or a new MVP who has been nominated. These nominations can come from other Microsoft MVPs, or Microsoft employees.
If you’d like more information about the Microsoft MVP program, then please go visit the official Microsoft MVP Award website: http://mvp.microsoft.com