How to become Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP)

This is one of the most common question I have been asked these days and yes you are not only curious person around, there are many 🙂 //Please note that this is a long post 🙂
What is MVP?
Most probably if you are reading this blog post, you already know that what is MVP however if you don’t then first and foremost thing is that “Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) is an award”. This is what Microsoft says about MVP award at Microsoft MVP Site:
“We seek to recognize the best and brightest from technology communities around the world with the Microsoft® Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award. These exceptional community leaders come from a wide range of backgrounds. They are teachers, artists, doctors, engineers, as well as technologists, who actively share their high-quality, real-world technical expertise with the community and with Microsoft.
With the MVP Award, we thank these inspiring individuals for representing the voice of thousands in the community through the powerful and independent feedback they give us, and for helping our customers maximize the potential of their software.“
MVP award is given in particular technology for example C#, ASP.NET, Connected Systems etc in which person shows most contribution or passion.
What is required to be MVP?
The very first thing I want to clear here is the answer of a weird question people ask sometime that “Is there a certification to become MVP?” Well not at all. The key to become MVP is Sharing of Knowledge and Real World Expertise, voluntarily. Your goal should be ‘serving community’ rather than becoming MVP as they say that MVPs are already in the community they are just being recognized 🙂
So, coming back to the point, there are two main ways to serve the community being technical expert
  1. Online
  2. Offline
For online: you can contribute through Answering on technical Forums, fantastic articles, useful blogs, podcasts, websites, screen casts. //Be careful not to copy someone else content and if you do give it proper reference.
For offline: User Groups, speaking, books, magazines etc.
Finally keep in touch with other MVPs and local Microsoft Evangelism team.
How will I be selected?
There is no shortcut to become MVP. You need to get active in the community for the long time and be consistent. In order to become MVP you need to be recognized and nominated by someone from either Microsoft or by another MVP. Some are lucky to get recognized early and some get late. Out of 100 million people participate in technical communities, there are only around 4000 MVPs worldwide and there are only around 10 in Pakistan. That makes me more lucky 🙂
“Potential MVPs are nominated by other technical community members, current and former MVPs, and Microsoft personnel who have noted their leadership and their willingness and ability to help others make the most of their Microsoft technology” – Microsoft MVP Site
Benefits?
Perhaps the MVP Award has now become a status symbol in the technical community. However there are numerous benefits that are offered by Microsoft to you as a MVP. Some of them are:
  • MSDN and TechNet Subscription //That means virtually all Microsoft software are free for you
  • Access Private Newsgroups and Insiders’ List
  • Product Feedback and Interaction with Product Team
  • MVP Global Summit //Microsoft invites all MVPs to their headquarters at Seattle/Redmond
  • MVP Source Licensing Program //gain licensed access to source code of some Microsoft Products [limited countries]
  • //etc etc
Please note that there are no monetary benefits offered to MVPs from Microsoft.
Concluding Remarks
I would like to end this post by highlighting few points:
  • Although MVPs are considered as Microsoft technology evangelist, they do strong criticism when they provide feedback to product teams at Microsoft
  • MVP is not all about doing evangelism of Microsoft
  • MVPs are independent of Microsoft //Jon Skeet is Visual C# MVP and he works at Google
  • MVPs give feedback as a representative of local community and they do what best fit in the real world scenarios. For example, MVPs suggested that when connecting with Oracle through .NET application Oracle’s ODP.NET is better than Microsoft Oracle Data Provider. As a result Microsoft marked ‘Microsoft Oracle Data Provider’ obsolete and not recommended for future use 🙂
  • As a MVP you have networking opportunities with other MVPs around the globe
  • The above mentioned activities (online, offline) are just common set of activities usually MVPs do and there is no guarantee that if you will follow above defined activities,will become MVP. In fact no one really knows the criteria of MVP Award. However there is only one thing common which I see in almost every MVP and that is the passion to serve the community regardless of reward
The beauty of MVP Program is that as a MVP you have so much credibility inside Microsoft that they can even change their product shipping date if MVPs recommend them to do so and that makes the relationship between MVPs and Microsoft strong.
I hope this post would have been useful for many of you. If you still have any question(s) in mind, please feel free to ask.
Last but not least, As a fun I would recommend you to read “Finally revealed!!! The secret criteria for the Microsoft MVP Award!!” by Sean O’Driscoll.
Have a great day!
  • This is so true,
    If you belive on the product, just want to share the problems and solution you earn, the rest will come easy…
    “MVPs are independent of Microsoft”… i work at Sybase now SAP, but Microsoft belive on people and what they share.

  • I like that line: “…MVPs are already in the community, they are just being recognized…”