If you’ve ever felt like the lovechild of Shakespeare and Bill Gates, maybe penning your thoughts is the way to MVP-ship. If you’re struggling for content to get you started it’s a good idea to subscribe to a few trade magazines in order to get an idea of what’s current in the market, particularly the editorials as these are often considered the ‘hot topics’. The next step is deciding your writing style and genre; blogs are a great place to express your opinion and get your message out there, but don’t neglect the opportunity to publish whitepapers on your company website or write for national industry newsletters and magazines. Make sure that your article includes a by-line with your web address or credits you and if you perform well and become a regular contributor, this could even turn into a monthly column. Your column/blog could be anything from local news to industry trends, case studies, how-to articles or even reviews of new technology in the market. For the truly ambitious amongst you, this could even materialise into becoming a published author.
THE VOCAL ONE
If you have the gift of the gab, consider becoming a regular speaker at industry events, meetups and conferences. If this is new to you, it’s a good idea to start small by hosting smaller meetups in your local area, or, for the truly brave, by offering a free talk to schools or communities to generate interest. You can also join free speakers bureaus to connect with and support local not-for-profits, professional associations and business groups in order to sharpen your skills while providing a valuable service for smaller organisations. If you’re more comfortable on screen though, or even to bolster your portfolio, a great alternative to blogging is creating video and audio podcasts and webcasts that can communicate your opinions more freely and regularly. This is great for profile-raising as vlogging has become one of the most popular ways to access information online. Once you’ve established your style and tone of voice, as well as picking up your confidence off the floor multiple times, you’ll be ready for the big league. There are multiple online sites, including Technology Speakers and Speakers Corner that provide key note speakers to organisations hosting events. We’ll see you there.
Not every MVP got there through flagrant self-promotion. If you have a softer soul, helping others in the Microsoft community might be the way to your award. Online forums and technical communities are teaming with less tech-savvy users that can truly benefit from your advice, experience and explanations. As an example, Vinicius Mozart, a Cloud and Datacenter Management MVP, is an active community contributor whose total answers at MSDN/TechNet start at 2,546, with 728 helpful posts and 4,003 replies. Outside of online forums, The Altruist can be found updating fact pages such as Wikipedia, holding Q&A sessions or even posting blogs on resolutions to common problems. The Altruist may also lend their services to local not-for-profits and SMEs in order to solve real world problems or play a role in fixing bugs on the Microsoft Connect website. You may even choose to become a mentor within your specialism to provide a dedicated contact point for those trying to learn.
THE SOCIAL BUTTERFLY
There’s a huge community of Microsoft aficionados out there. Some of the most well-known of these include MSDN, TechNet, Appdeploy, Windows Club and Neowin but there are also hundreds that can be found online and through social media sites such as LinkedIn Groups. Here, people congregate to discuss salient industry trends, challenges, queries and up-and-coming technology. Proving your mettle by engaging in debate, identifying cutting-edge tools and techniques or simply sharing a passion can all help to get you noticed. Don’t forget to connect with existing MVPs on social media and follow their blogs in order to spark conversation and engage with like-minded individuals. This might even help make you aware of upcoming events or identify other tech specialists looking to partner up.
Of course, being a social butterfly doesn’t have to be all remote. Attending tech events regularly can help to build your network and boost your profile while making some new friends. In addition to formal industry events, seminars and conferences, websites such as Meetup and independent User Groups organise smaller, informal, voluntary get-togethers for tech specialists on a local level. Microsoft even has its own social and events calendar to get involved with tech gatherings and help individuals spread their metaphorical wings. Who knows, over time you might even have the contact base to create your own!
Inch wide, mile deep, The Specialist knows their subject matter better than a Master Mind contestant. It’s important to note that The Specialist can be born out of any of the above category types, but typically includes a combination of elements from all four. The Specialist, for instance, is the most likely to author a comprehensive book or how-to guide that drills down into the complexities of a particular technology or system. They are also amongst the most likely to host at industry conferences on very specific subjects or become well-respected in the Microsoft community by providing in-depth feedback on Microsoft products to support continuous improvement. They may even contribute code samples or walkthroughs of specific technologies that can help to inform and educate the wider community.
There’s no one-size fits all approach to becoming an MVP. Sharing knowledge, working together and putting your opinion out there appears to be the common thread amongst MVPs. Whatever your specialism, there’s room for everyone.
Looking to share those tech skills for the greater good? We have created a series of blog articles giving key tips on becoming one of Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs), technology experts who are passionate about sharing their knowledge with the tech community.
If you want to know how to be an MVP, it’s not enough to be an expert. You need to show everyone else you’re an expert. It’s about sharing the knowledge, sharing the love, becoming a pioneer for your area of expertise.
A thought leader might sound like some kind of mindreading dystopian dictator from the novel 1984, but it’s also something you need to become if you want to be an MVP.