Want to become a Microsoft MVP? The Microsoft MVP Award Program recognizes outstanding members of technical communities based on contributions – related to Microsoft software, services and products – made during the previous 12 months to offline and online technical communities. In the first year of its existence, Microsoft awarded 37 technical community leaders as MVPs. There are currently around 4,000 MVP’s worldwide, in almost 90 Microsoft technologies, spanning 90 countries, speaking nearly 40 languages and answering more than 10 million questions a year.
How to become a Microsoft MVP
In February 2013, the Microsoft MVP Award will complete 20 years. The MVP program may have started with the software developer community, but today it encompasses the entire gamut of Microsoft software, products and services. The initial MVPs were active on the online peer support communities such as Usenet and CompuServe. But today, apart from participating in forums, even other avenues of contribution like Blogging are considered.
Having been a Microsoft ‘Most Valuable Professional’ Awardee for a while now, I am often asked this question – HOW TO BECOME A MICROSOFT MVP. Naturally, most people keen on becoming one, want to know the answer. My short answer usually is: You cannot really ‘work’ to become a Microsoft MVP. If your community contributions are good, you just get recognized as one! Nevertheless, I would like to take this opportunity to share a few insights on the topic, borrowing upon, from a few Microsoft resources on the web – on how to become a Microsoft MVP or MCC.
What is a Microsoft MVP
The MCC award “is an award offered by Microsoft, which is designed to recognize notable contributions to Microsoft online community forums such as TechNet, MSDN, and Answers. The MVP award takes those contributions into consideration, but it looks beyond these tools at overall industry leadership. They consider quality, quantity, and level of impact. It involves sharing knowledge (Forums, Wiki, blogs, Gallery), speaking at conferences, and leading others.
The MVP program is an award and not a certification. There is no exam to take, no interview to give! The only way to become a Microsoft MVP is to be recognized and acknowledged by Microsoft.
Again, some people think of an MVP or Most Valuable Professionals as a Microsoft employee. No, they aren’t! In fact, they are an independent community of technical leaders who share their expertise and real-world knowledge about Microsoft products. They come from a wide range of backgrounds (teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, as well as technologists – or a businessman like I am) and actively share their real-world technical expertise with others – more as a passion!
The MVP recognition lasts for a period of one year, after which, if the contribution continues to be exemplary, gets renewed. It is more difficult to become a Microsoft MVP, as compared to MCC, since the selection process is more rigorous.
Microsoft never discloses its requirements on becoming an MVP, so it is not an easy nut to crack. One must realize that it is not an exam that you can take to become an MVP. The only way to become an MVP is to be recognized through your contributions. The number of people who you reach via your contributions is also very important.
Essentially, a person should possess the following 3 qualities or should be incredibly strong in one, according to this Wiki article on TechNet.
- Feedback – This includes providing valuable, polite, and most accurate suggestions and feedback.
- Support – Always try to provide quality assistance and consultation. If possible, test your own advice. Do not ever make wild guesses. Experts in your area evaluate samples of your community work.
- Knowledge/Education – Lead conferences, contribute to successful blogs and/or write books?
The MVP Award Program compliments three areas of product life cycle – Advocacy, Support and Feedback. Microsoft expects contributions in at-least 2 areas, but there can be exceptions.
In practice, try to do the following:
- Write articles, guest blogs, or books. Try becoming a guest blogger on the better known blogs. Even having you own blog where you contribute is just fine too!
- Be active in any online/offline communities, forums, newsgroups, User Groups or report bugs to Microsoft.
- Become a Moderator, Answerer, Lead on your technology forums
- Focus on your area of interest. For instance, if you want to be a Windows MVP, any posts you make about, say, Office will not be counted towards your contribution. Only your posts about Windows will be considered.
- And most importantly … Be consistent!
Mind well, the MVP Award is evaluated based on the past 12 months of contribution so you have to remain active for at least a year. After the award period the award ends, the renewal assessment process can be triggered and you could get renominated.
Recently, in India, the MVP India community did a bit of virtual brainstorming to figure out the skills required to become an MVP. Some of the main qualities that came across were:
- Always keen to learn and share
- Being committed
- Passion for technology
- Possess problem Solving skills
- Out of Box Thinking
- Open to feedback and being a good listener.
How to apply to become a Microsoft MVP
Microsoft may contact you directly, if it finds you worthy of becoming a Microsoft MVP. That’s the best way in my opinion! But you can also apply on your own - or better still, request another MVP to nominate you. If he or she is convinced about the merits in your case, he may. I personally have had the pleasure and the privilege of nominating three (now four), who were members of TheWindowsClub.com, to the MVP program successfully. The fourth one I had nominated, simply relaxed and stopped participating after I had nominated him – assuming that the ‘job’ was now done. That is why I said – be consistent. Don’t just participate in forums for the sake of getting the award. It wont work. If your passion dictates, you will continue to contribute – and that is what Microsoft looks for. Your passion, consistency and quality!
MVP nominees undergo a rigorous review process. A panel that includes members of the MVP team and Microsoft product groups evaluates each nominee’s technical expertise and contributions for the past 12 months. Once you have applied or are nominated, it may take up to 3 months for Microsoft to take a decision. If you get the award, you will get a welcome email. If you do not receive any mail in 3 months, it would mean that your nomination was not successful. For more information on this, you can visit the MVP website.
While anyone can apply for the Award, Microsoft Employees, Microsoft Contingent Staffs and Government or State Owned Employees are not eligible to apply for the MVP Award.
Microsoft MVP Benefits
- Recognition benefits like MVP certificate and more, use of official MVP logo, etc.
- Software licenses for all Microsoft software via a TechNet or MSDN subscription. Many 3rd-party software vendors also give a free license to MVPs for their personal use.
- Invitation to MVP Global Summit, Local and Regional MVP Open Days
- Direct access to exclusive learning resources
- Direct access to Microsoft Product Teams and MVP Product Group Interaction & Feedback teams
- Finally… the status which is associated from being a Microsoft MVP.
If you are thinking of working backwards, by finding out what all is required to become an MVP, do those things and then aspire for the award, chances are that you may not be successful. Only if you are passionate and feel strongly about helping out others, will your contributions come across the way they should. So my advice: Don’t ‘work’ for the MVP Award. Keep contributing to your community, enjoy the contributing and contribute well – and the MVP Award i sure to come your way! The thing to remember is quality and consistency.
What is a Microsoft Community Contributor
Microsoft Community Contributor or MCC is an individual who dedicates much of his/her time and energy to online technical communities such as Microsoft Answers, MSDN and TechNet. Microsoft reviews the contributions of such individuals towards its communities and if found suitable, awards them the MCC status.
The benefit earns you a recognition as Microsoft Community Contributor and is noticeable as an award status in your profile on the online community (MSDN, TechNet, Answers). The recognition however is for a limited period of 90 days only.
How to become an MCC
There is no single rule or a guaranteed method that can make you an MCC, or an MVP for that matter. Being an MVP/MCC is all about helping others. But still, some tips mentioned below may help in getting the desired results. Recognition is one major driving factor that makes you even more successful in what you do; and Microsoft recognizes your community contributions very well.
- Try to create an impact in the community – Use tools like Microsoft Answers, TechNet, MSDN or other well-known forums for this purpose. Also maintain quality and quantity in your contributions.
- Rule the Forums – Find technology forums where there’s a huge need for moderation and Answerers. Become an expert in that technology. Always answer loads of questions correctly and if not possible, at least propose a lot of them (especially ones that aren’t from you). The ability to be able to search on the net properly and post relevant resource links is equally important too, in my opinion. Then if you wish, track down the Moderators or email them and make a case to become a Forum Moderator, Lead or Answerer.
These FAQ’s may offer answers to some questions you may have about the MCC Award.
Keep learning and keep sharing! All the best!
To become a Microsoft MVP you have to be at least 18 years of age. If you are a student who is passionate about Microsoft technologies and aren’t shy about sharing your enthusiasm for the latest Microsoft products, you might want to become a Microsoft Student Partner. Go here to learn more about the Microsoft Student Associate Program.