In a previous blog post that I wrote How To Become Microsoft MVP – My Journey, I talked about my MVP journey to inspire people to take the same journey. I got a lot of questions from people who want also to join the MVP club, and there are always same questions that I receive when it comes to this topic. So I decided to explain more how you can also become Microsoft MVP.
There are two kinds of people
From my long experience talking to people and helping them answer this question, it came to my attention that there is a repetitive pattern in which people want to get the award without paying the price.
The MVP award is not a certification exam that you apply for or demand, it is rather earned by hard work and consistency. I will get back to the consistency piece in a while.
More than 90% of technical smart people don’t have either time or willingness to share their knowledge to the world, while a good percentage lack consistency or knowledge on how to contribute to the community.
The world is filled of smart guru people, however, they are not contributing. I personally know people smarter than me at what they do, but they are either busy and occupied with work and personal commitments, or they simply don’t share their experience for various reasons.
To become Microsoft MVP, you need to have something that is obvious like the sun which is common between all MVPs. Not only you need to be passionate about what you do (many people are already passionate about their work), but the secret sauce is being passionate about sharing your experience and willingness to helping others.
It requires that extra mile to spare time and put some effort to share what you know to the whole word without waiting for something in return (not money, not fame, not even recognition). Just share, for others to learn from you. I have a family and full time job, I sometimes spend long hours at work, but because I am passionate about contributing to the community and sharing my expertise or thoughts, I will always find time even for a small contribution. Some weeks I got busy or traveling and I don’t have time to write blog post, but at least, I try to do small things like referring people to Microsoft docs for a new service or sharing other fellow MVPs blog posts.
With time, I started to plan for my contributions a head of time. For next quarter for example, I put a list of blog posts that I want to write (I have ideas from now), and I search for conferences I want to attend or speak at, and I chat with fellow MVPs about suggested contributions in the future. We usually plan those things to keep things moving.
My happiest moments are when I see a message from follower thanking me for a great blog post and that that my post helped him solve a problem at work. I always dedicate time to reply to comments on my blog and YouTube channel, thanking people for their feedback, and answering their questions. This is the real award.
Great example from Fellow MPVs
I will give you another example of how MVPs become MVPs. Two weeks back, I helped a customer understand and configure some complex audio-conferencing configuration for his Microsoft Teams service, which took me both time and effort to get this done right. My first though immediately after solving his problem is that I wanted to blog about it so the whole world can quickly learn how to do it without going through my hard journey in figuring this out.
It becomes part of me to share my experience and knowledge without even thinking. Same thing when I tried to figure out the new role-based certifications for Microsoft 365. After asking couple of people and reading the documentations about all the new exams and the different role based paths, I wanted to share my knowledge to help people navigate through the different new certifications and make sense on which certifications to go after. I blogged about it in my Become Microsoft 365 Enterprise Administrator Expert blog post. When I saw the huge traffic on that blog post, I realized that I want to help them more, so I published a YouTube video talking about the same topic, which becomes one of my top viewed videos.
I consider myself even not active like other great fellow MVPs who are even more active than myself. Check out my fellow MVP and friend Darrell , Houssem Dellai or Alistair Pugin . You will find something in common between them (consistency, passion,contributions,…). We all have full time jobs and families, and still we find a time and a way to contribute.
Two of my new friends are Ahmad Alnajjar and John Levesque who started a wave of blog posts and YouTube videos talking about the relatively new Microsoft Flow service. They are considered now the destination for anyone who want to learn about Microsoft Flow with their great contributions. In fact, John started a great YouTube channel that is getting a huge momentum (10k++ subscribers and increasing) and people liked his passion of sharing. Just open his YouTube channel and you will understand what passion to share really means. A great example that inspire us all.
Take for example a fellow MVP Tracy as she teach us everyday what commitment means. She did a challenge to post 365 blog post about Microsoft 365 in 365 days (one blog per a day for a whole year!!!!). It is just crazy to think of the effort, time and dedication she put into this. Try to write one blog post and you will understand how much effort is involved. Why do you think she is doing all that? It is simply the passion and the dedication she is putting to share knowledge. Go to any Microsoft conference globally or a SharePoint Saturday event, and there is a big chance you will find her among the speakers list. Whenever I see Tracy in one of those events, I always tell her the same thing ” Your dedication and passion inspire us all everyday and thank you for all your great contributions“
Being an MVP is also about being kind to fellow MVPs, helping them out and acknowledge their contributions whenever possible. When a fellow MVP is in need, you will find me the first to offer help, as I always get the same from other MVPs.
Try also to find a friend who is passionate about what he is doing and help each other’s. I experienced this in the past. Having a friend who you can talk to and encourage you to contribute more is valuable. Same thing when you go to the gym with a friend who always push you to carry more weight. You can both organize events together, co-author blog posts, share experiences, and have fun while doing that! Many MVPs work together, co-authoring books, doing podcasts, and organizing events as a team. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, remember that.
I worked with many friends over the years who helped me contribute more to the community. Even after I become Microsoft MVP, it happens often when we work as MVPs together on common projects or community events. Big shout to my fellow MVP Ahmad Nabil who I am working with him these days in many community events and projects.
Do you have what it takes to become Microsoft MVP
My point is that you should ask you self first “do I have what it takes to become Microsoft MVP?” before asking others “I want to become one”. It is an earned title not a given one after all. I still remember that session given by one of my idols Dr.Erdal Ozkaya in the MVP connect event in Dubai when he told us that passion to share is the key element for an MVP.
The good news is you don’t have to be master on what you are doing to become a Microsoft MVP, although being really good at what you are doing helps you make more valuable contributions.
In the old days, I thought that to become Microsoft MVP means I should master Microsoft products and take all the Microsoft certifications before even considering becoming one. This is not necessary true. You might see some MVPs authoring books and writing very deep technical LEVEL 400 blog posts, but this is not what makes them MVPs. However, it is a contribution factor.
Another question I get a lot is that to become MVP, do I have to do all the Microsoft certifications in my specialty? The answer is also NO. Certification exam is a way to validate your expertise, but a lot of highly certified people are not a good candidate for the MVP award.
Start by picking up a Microsoft MVP category
I believe the journey starts within yourself. Start by looking at the MVP categories here and find out what you are good and passionate about. Once you identify the category that fits your skill set, then you can start working on planning your contributions.
I got sometime questions from people (Well, I can contribute to more than one MVP category so I will pick more than one).
While that might be true, I highly recommend you pick one MVP category to start with (for Example Microsoft Azure MVP category) and then focus your contributions on that category. Once you become MVP on that category, you can then apply for additional categories if you want.
The reason of that is because if you are applying for one MVP category and you have contributions on other categories, Microsoft will not take into consideration any contributions except for those related to the category you are applying for.
If you are good in Office 365 and Azure, then pick one of them, focus your contributions there and apply for that category as a starting point. You will increase your chances this way.
Focus your contributions in that MVP category
Look at your local community in your country (perhaps you can check Meetup.com to learn about tech communities in your country). Once you identify one, go and attend one of their events and see if you can speak at their next event. In my case, I didn’t find one in my local country (Jordan), so I worked with three friends and we established the first Microsoft community in the country. We created a Facebook page, we talked to Microsoft to give us a place to organize events, and we started with one small event.
With time, we got more audience and we had more speakers who share our passion. We successfully organized the first Global Azure bootcamp where we got huge audience and it was a great event. Things went from five audience to a lot of them. It takes time, but consistency is a key. It took us six months and a lot of marketing to get respectful audience, but because we were passionate about it, we make it happen.
Next, try to contribute online in anyway. Start a blog, small one. Don’t try to write the perfect post from the beginning. When I look at my first blog posts back in 2007, I get shocked as they lack any structure or proper format. Start with small and simple blog post, they don’t need to be complicated or deep technical, and with time you get better.
To start your blogging journey, you could go to wordpress.com and create a free blog within five minutes. Write about your experience in solving a problem at work or about a new feature in one of Microsoft services and target your expertise toward current MVP award categories.
A quick way to start contributing online is to visit the Microsoft Tech Community portal and start answering questions that others are asking. This is one of the easiest ways to show your passion for helping others with their Microsoft-related questions.
Be consistent along the journey and do not lose momentum. You don’t have to do a daily contribution, but consistency is a key. With time, people will eventually recognize you as a contributor in that field and this is when you know you are in the right track.
Try to find an opportunity to speak in events or online webinar. It might be hard at first, but always look and try to get such opportunity. Things become easier with time as you become recognized as a contributor in your field.
I believe Microsoft MVP award committee looks for those who are well-known contributors in their field, and you have to show them that you are. They will not look for how much you know or how much certifications you have. Again, it is about your consistent contributions and being well-known in the community in one of the MVP categories.
It is not coincident that I see John’s name whenever I search for an article or video about Microsoft Flow. His various contributions and consistency make him a well-known reference in his field, and this comes with work, dedication and passion. If he kept his knowledge to himself, he will not be one of the MVPs.
You can also become Microsoft MVP
I love to help you become one of Microsoft MVPs and I am helping a lot of friends to become one. Writing this blog post and helping others to become MVPs is another example of what MVPs do and why they earned this title in the first place. I will leave a reference to fellow MVP blog posts sharing their tips on how to become Microsoft MVP at the end of this blog post, so check them out.
Please remember that you can’t be living in a cave and wake up someday and say “how can I apply to become Microsoft MVP?”. Work for it and earn it. If you do not have contributions, then it is never too late. Start today, perhaps this blog post is your first step.
Find what MVP category is the right one for you and work on your contributions like we all did. Start small and with time and consistency, you might also join the club and become one.
If you have questions about this topic, please leave a comment and I will be more than happy to help you figure out how to contribute more. Be kind and follow the MVPs I mentioned in this blog post, they definitely earned it.
Finally, to become Microsoft MVP you need to get nominated. You need a Microsoft employee or a current Microsoft MVP to nominate you to become one and you have to list all your contributions in the last year for the MVP committee to review your application. Good Luck !
Remember one thing, current Microsoft MVPs are here to help you become one of them. If you know a current MVP then connect with him and ask him about his journey and tips to become one. What could be better than having a real example to follow his leads. You don’t have to do exactly what he did, but at least you can get inspired by his MVP journey.
From My Experience
I can see some people doing certain things or have wrong assumptions about the MVP program. First of all, it is not impossible or very hard to become a Microsoft MVP. The key is to pick your MVP category and focusing your contributions towards that category. Give it time, consistency and contributions and you will become in a good shape to get nominated.
I also see an annoying pattern that really makes me sad. I see some people asking about how to become MVP, they start to contribute and do some blog posts, and then they ask the question of “is it enough?” or “Why I didn’t get an MVP award till now” or “I did 15 blog posts and two videos, why I am not an MVP yet”.
One thing my dear friend, It is not a checklist that you complete and then ask for an award. You can’t ask me “how many blog posts I should do to become an MVP?”, It does not work that way.
Let me give you an example of how it works with an imaginary example out of my head. Suppose we have a guy who is called Ahmad. Ahmad loves Office 365 and he is helping his company moving to the cloud and adopt a modern workplace strategy. He is passionate about his work and he is good at it (between us, this is not enough).
Ahmad learned a lot from implementing Exchange Online, configuring hybrid environment, rolling out teams, mapping business needs to Office 365 solutions. He solved a lot of problems while rolling out Office 365 and he wanted to share his experience to the world.
Because he is passionate to share, he started a small free blog called Office365Decoded.example. He started to write small blog posts at the beginning, one blog post every week where he shares how he solved a problem in deploying Office 365. Ahmad started to see comments from people asking about his troubleshooting method on solving these problems and he liked that he got the chance to help others.
Whenever he finds a problem at work that he can’t solve, he goes to the Microsoft Tech Community and he drops a question there. He also started to navigate through the MS Tech Community portal, and he saw other people asking questions about Office 365. He knew the answer to those questions, so he started to reply with his suggested solution. Ahmad becomes an active member of the Office 365 tech community and whenever he finds time, he helped others by replying with a suggesting answer.
Ahmad started to attend Microsoft tech community events in his country as an attendee. He started to make connections with the local community by attending these events, and with time, he met couple of MVPs speaking on those local events. Ahmad asked one of the MVPs or community members if he there is an opportunity for him to talk in future events. He wanted to share his company’s journey on moving to Office 365 and the challenges he faced for others to learn.
Within couple of months, Ahmad was an active member of his local community and sometimes people invite him to speak in one of the local events, or just helping organizing couple of events. Even if it was a small task like marketing for his local community events or reserving the event location a head of time.
Quick note: for me personally, I started small tasks in the local community like reserving a venue or ordering food for attendees or even helping in the event registration. Some people just go to the local community and say, “I want to speak in the next event, make it happen”. Well, don’t be rude, try to know the community members first, connect with them, go as an attendee the first two times, see how you can help them in the next event, and with time, you can propose speaking at the next one.
It has been one year now, and Ahmad become more active in the community and online blogging. People started asking him to post about Microsoft Teams adoption, so he decided to create a blog series about this topic. He started to share his contributions and talk about Office 365 new features across the different social media channel consistently. He is now active on Twitter, where he connects with other MVPs in Office 365 and technical people who share his passion in this field.
Ahmad started to follow other MVPs in social media, and he started to learn new ways of contributions. He saw that MVPs contribute not only with blog posts and speaking events, they also do podcasts, YouTube videos sometimes, do free webinars, or even author a book. Ahmad decided to start his YouTube channel and post small 5 minutes videos about Office 365 adoption. Every couple of weeks, Ahmad records a video from his work office talking about new ways to drive adoption for Office 365 (no fancy cameras, mics, or expensive equipment’s. Just from his phone camera)
With time, he become recognized in his community as an active contributor and one of the MVPs he knows nominate him to join the MVP community. He knows that if he didn’t get the MVP award this time, it is not a problem. He will not stop doing what he is doing just because he didn’t get it this time, it is not the end of the world. He continues doing what he loves and with time, he got nominated and accepted as a Microsoft MVP in Office 365.
The story ends here and I hope by now you understand what is the natural approach of becoming one of Microsoft MVPs. I see some people doing contributions and then applying for the MVP program. If they didn’t get accepted, this is the end for them. They stop doing contribution and just give up. Well, you should not contribute because of the award, the award rather is what you get for your contributions that you do because you are passionate about doing it. If getting the award is your end goal, then my friend, you get it wrong.
Fellow MVP Posts on how to become Microsoft MVP
Tip: Follow @MVPAward
My MVP Journey by Ammar Hasayen
The Road To Becoming a Microsoft MVP by Brien Posey
YouTube Playlist: How To Become a Microsoft MVP?
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