Top Tips: How to Become a SharePoint MVP

Mobile Man / Thursday, January 14, 2016

If you took a moment out of your day and logged into Twitter and searched for #MVP, you’d encounter an active content thread with nods to plenty of successful achievers. One common theme in this stream are references to American NFL and NBA players. Whilst they’re not the focus of what we want to discuss today, the notion of “achievement” is. Because should you ever obtain the rank of Microsoft MVP, most members of your peer group would see that as one hell of an achievement.

“MVP” in the industries that use the moniker stands for “Most Valued Professional.”  In Microsoft’s case, these MVPs have historically been attached to various technologies. The history of the program details how high value contributors were identified on forums that Microsoft used to provide support for. Recognition of these contributors and what they bring to the community still remains the most important underlying theme of the program today.

Historically, Microsoft has awarded MVPs on a singular technological basis, in that it was possible to gain recognition for any of the licensed, saleable offering that Microsoft offered.  You could be a GPO MVP, a PowerShell MVP, a SharePoint MVP and so forth.  More recently however, changes were made to the categories in which an individual can be recognized.  These changes were captured on the MVP October 2015 Update. Looking at the Office Servers and Services category for example, you’ll see Office 365, SharePoint, Yammer and a few others are now grouped alongside each other. Grouping technologies in this fashion is more representative of how Microsoft Technologies are more often than not inclusive of other products in their eventual deployment and utilization. It also removes the ‘one technology’ restriction when looking at an individual’s contribution.

So… how do I get it!?

Whilst the MVP club isn’t exactly a secret society, the exact requirements you’ll have to meet have never been made crystal clear. Microsoft themselves cite a large number of possible contributions that can be considered when looking at a nominee’s merits. Moving beyond this rather opaque statement, Christian Buckley has posted a well circulated blog post offering his thoughts on how to possibly earn MVP Status. It can be read in full here.  When we cross-reference this with some posts from other MVPs that have contributed their thoughts to the TechNet Wiki, some commonalities can be identified. 

Love what you do

We’ll begin with something absolutely vital: enjoyment of what you do. Whether you like technology, solution design, programming or PowerShell, tapping into your natural enthusiasm is a common trait of all MVPs. In any community, look for the more vibrant and active people and you’ll see an MVP is never far away. If you take a look at the MSDN forums for instance and you’ll locate somewhere amongst the top answering posters an MVP. Whilst answering forums may sound terribly impressive, consider that the passion of technology individuals in essence provides a low cost support resource for everyone else.  Imagine trying to answer 10 / 15 questions a day, with each question taking around 10 minutes to research, digest and respond too - that’s a lot of support given away for nothing.

Create content

A very, very important theme here is the creation of content.  To highlight this point, we’d pick up two recent MVPS and their respective bodies of work:

Both of these MVPS were awarded for being excellent contributors to the community but in very different ways. Gokan’s MSDN profile tells its own story, in terms of wiki articles, blog posts and translations offered in support literature. He has willingly and consistently offered up his time to contribute and edit articles and content that will have helped many others.

Conversely, Nikolas’ LinkedIn Profile shows a strong history in book publishing, event speaking and event organization. Whilst his content may not be as readily available as Gokan’s, he has had a widespread and positive impact on the community through his work.

Help Microsoft improve

Everyone, at some point will complain about technology, whether it’s a malfunctioning CD player, a train delayed for no reason or traffic lights that won’t play nice. We all do. But in this instance, getting to know either the product team or prominent members of the Microsoft Product Teams is also a worthwhile endeavor. They won’t want to hear complaints or needlessly negative commentary regarding missing functionality but they will be interested in knowing about a use scenario from your real life experiences that might help understand the use case for the technology a bit more. Names like Steve Peschka (SharePoint) or Christophe Fiessinger (Yammer) are but a few of the key players to get you started.

Give your time

Interlinking all of the above is willingness to give your time. Effort often equates to a lot of time spent. Christian Buckley summarizes this point well in point two on his blog post by stating that MVPs are known to go above and beyond. Considering our three examples above:

  • An MVP in the TechNet forums: if he sees an issue he can’t solve, may go off and look for the answer rather than ignoring the question
  • An MVP editing and creating wiki content: may take the time to edit other people’s work as well as their own to ensure more accurate content for all
  • An MVP may spend considerable time documenting and detailing a scenario for the product team, rather than complaining about it

Finest features

Keeping the above in mind, we think that many of these traits are exemplified by some of the MVPS we’ve discussed recently. Content, passion, going ‘above and beyond’ are traits that all of these individuals show in spades. Explore their work and contributions and you’ll begin to see why they’re as well regarded as they are. As, are (because we’re proud of these guys in particular) our own MVPS!

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