I am very grateful to Microsoft for their having awarded me MVP status for a second year. I think the top two things I appreciate about being an MVP are the fact that I have direct access to the product team, and that I have the ear of some of the other SharePoint folks I respect the most. It’s an honor and a privilege to be counted among them.
A number of you have asked me what it takes to be an MVP, since you might be working towards this goal yourself. Clearly, I have no magic insight into why Microsoft chooses whom they choose. The decision is up to them and they have their reasons for their decisions.
However, I am of the opinion that there a good number of gifted SharePoint developers, architects, IT folks, trainers, etc. out there who are working hard every day to help others by teaching them what they know, and communicating to all of us how to make it past roadblocks and hurdles we encounter. I guess you could say I’m a populist, in the sense that, although I know there a limited number of MVP “slots”, I would love to bring more into the fold… those folks who have truly spent their own time and energy to help out the rest of us.
With that, I would say that if you want to become an MVP the steps are fairly simple: Get involved!
  • Answer questions on the SharePoint message boards. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there’s most likely someone you could help out. All of us had to start somewhere, so why not help others by answering their questions?
  • Write quality blog articles. Simply posting a blog entry about another blog entry you read won’t cut it. Take some time to write intelligent articles about things you’ve learned or problems you’ve overcome. While a few people read my blog every time I have a new posting, most people simply stumble across my blog because my post has answered some question they had, or helped them learn something new.
  • Take the time to get involved in your local user group. If you’re not comfortable with public speaking, think about maybe team-presenting with someone who’s experienced. This will get you used to standing in front of people, as well as learning what it takes to put together a slide deck, a demo, etc. Once you feel comfortable with that, think about taking part as a speaker at one or more of the many SharePoint Saturdays that take place around the country.
  • I don’t consider Twittering something that gets you an MVP status, but it’s actually a good way of letting people know if you’ve published something new.

At the end of the day, the best thing you can do to be considered for MVP is to help people. When you help people solve their problems, people will begin to know your name. This is not about shameless self-promotion… no one likes being around someone who talks about how great they are. But if you provide helpful solutions to people, you’re using your time and energy to propel other people forward, which is a good way to get noticed.

The last thing you need to is to be nominated by someone. Because many of us have worked pretty hard to get where we are, we’re probably not going to nominate someone we’ve never met and never heard of. (Simply asking us to be your friend on Facebook, follow you on Twitter, or connect on LinkedIn does not qualify as “knowing you”.) But if you’re out and about, rest assured, the SharePoint community is small enough that we’ll get to know you, and your body of work will speak for itself.

So… get out there and help! Get involved! These are the best ways to position yourself for MVP.