I was watching the video Mark Smith just posted, and, as it often happens, got mixed impression.
Of course I do agree that there is always this idea that becoming an MVP should bring in some benefits. When thinking of “becoming an MVP”, you are inevitably starting to think of those benefits at some point. As in “is it worth putting in all those efforts to be awarded”?
In that sense, Mark has done a great job explaining the benefits.
However, I wanted to give you a little different perspective.
First of all, let’s be honest, I am not a great speaker My main contribution to the community has always been this blog and Linkedin. There were a few tools, there were occasional presentations, and there were forum answers at some point. But all those videos and conferences… I’m just not wired that way.
Somehow, I still got awarded twice so far. What did it really give me?
Consider the NDA access. I do appreciate it since, that way, I often hear about upcoming changes and can provide early feedback before the changes become public. However, I can rarely act on that information since I can’t reference it. In other words, if I knew of an upcoming licensing change (it’s only an example, please don’t start pulling your hair), I could only influence license purchase decisions indirectly. On the technical side, it could be more helpful. But, again, how do you explain technical or architecture decisions which are made based on the NDA information?
Do I appreciate NDA access, though? Absolutely. Even if, more often than not, I can’t use it to justify my decisions, it gives me the feeling that I can influence product group direction. How about that? Out of a sudden, I am not just a “client” utilizing the product – I am a bit of a stakeholder who can influence where the product goes.
What about the money? In my “independent consultant” world, I know a lot of people who are making more even though they are not MVP-s. Maybe it’s different for the full-time employees, but I can’t say much about it.
Speaking engagements. Personally, I am not looking for them that actively. On a practical note, though, I think those engagements are tied to the previous point, which was “money”. More speaking engagement and more publicity means better recognition, and, in the end, more opportunities to land better jobs/contracts. On the other hand, that’s travel, that’s spending time away, etc.
How about free software and tools? I have MSDN and Azure credits. I have Camtasia. Etc. That does help. The tricky part there is… what if I don’t get renewed next year? I will lose all that. But, then, to what extent can I rely on those benefits when preparing my sample solutions, tools, posts, presentations, etc? The way I personally deal with this, I am trying to use this kind of benefits, of course, but I am trying not to over rely on them. For example, rather than getting an MVP instance of Dynamics 365, I’m getting one through the Microsoft Action Pack subscription. Am I using MSDN? Of course. If I lose it, I’ll deal with it when the time comes
So, in general, I think my overall idea of the MVP program has not changed much in the last year:
However, again on a practical note, what if, after doing all your research, you still wanted to be an MVP? My personal recipe is relatively simple:
- Find your own motivation for making those community contributions. As for me… I always thought that I can learn more through sharing. No, I am not always sharing just because I want to share I am sharing because, while doing so, I can fine-tune my own skills and knowledge. After all, how do you write about something if you don’t understand it? The same goes for different tools – it’s one thing to have something developed for myself, but it’s another thing to have a tool that somebody else can use. In the same manner, how do you answer a forum question if you don’t know the answer? You’ll just have to figure out that answer first.
- Once your motivation and efforts are aligned with the MVP program, and assuming you’ve been doing whatever it is you’ve been doing for some time, you will be awarded. Yes, you may have to get in touch with other MVP-s just to become nominated, but, more likely than not, by the time you do it(and assuming you’ve been making quality contributions), you will already be on the radar, so the question of being nominated won’t be a question at all.
Of course, this recipe does not guarantee the award, since there is no formula to calculate the value of your contributions ahead of time. Well, you may just have to start doing more of those, and then, a little more again. And you’ll get there.