I'm an MVP Now!

To my surprise on January 1st I received an email from Simran, the Community Program Manager for Microsoft Canada, welcoming me into the Microsoft MVP Program! Apparently my contributions to the technology community have been noticed and they felt a need to reward me. Anyways, this post is going to be more about how I got in and what it means to be an MVP.

How to get nominated

I’ve done a few things in the last year that may have got me noticed, primarily my involvement in HackREGINA and some of the speaking engagements for the Regina Technology Community, MoSoConf, Prairie Dev Con, and BarCamp Saskatoon. There were a few blog posts as well that were Microsoft-focused (as I’m primarily a .NET developer). I think the key thing is just going out of your way to share knowledge and help the tech community in general – I don’t think they look for any one specific activity.

Around the end of August I got an email from Simran saying I was nominated for the MVP award and asked me for a few details. The questions on the nomination form included:

  • What technical or product area(s) I consider myself an expert in
  • Speaking engagements in the last 12 months
  • Conferences and trade shows attended/participated in the last 12 months
  • Training sessions, lunch & learns, study groups, mentoring
  • Webcasts, user groups, authoring (books, blogs, white papers, FAQs, reviews, etc.)

From there you can get a good feeling for the criteria they use. I only really contributed in the speaking engagement and training spaces, I don’t really do a lot of webcasts or mentoring, so I don’t think it’s necessary to hit all of those categories. But the more you do, the better.

I’m an IIS expert now?

After that I didn’t really hear anything until I got my acceptance email 7 days ago. And then another email. And then about 10 more. You get a lot of email as a MVP :P

The first email gives a general overview of the program, why I was chosen, and what to expect in the coming days. It also lists the “area” that I’m an MVP for – in this case they picked me as an ASP.NET/IIS MVP. Which kind of shocked me for a bit – I haven’t really had anything major to do with ASP.NET or IIS in awhile. Of course I use them on a daily basis, being a web developer and all, but nowadays (and for the last 2 years) I’ve worked primarily in the JavaScript, Single-Page App, and Web Services (NancyFX) spaces.

Luckily, I was also offered the opportunity to pair with an existing MVP to learn the ropes. I am humbled and overjoyed to have the immense privilege of having D’Arcy Lussier, organizer of Prairie Dev Con and all around good guy, as my MVP buddy. His wisdom and knowledge are beyond reproach and my entire success in the MVP program will be because of his wisdom. (D’Arcy’s edit, not mine :P) He explained to me that the ASP.NET/IIS group is kind of a “catch-all” group for web-based technologies at Microsoft, including things like client-side development, MVC, web services, and so on. The ASP.NET/IIS MVP group is probably one of the bigger MVP groups at Microsoft.

What it means to be an MVP

So I was first wondering if because I’m listed under ASP.NET/IIS that I needed to become an authority on those technologies. That was always what I thought of MVPs in the past – they know everything about the tech they’re paired with. Turns out with such a large group covering such a large subject area (‘web’), it’d be next to impossible to really learn everything. Really, all they want you to do, is to keep supporting and encouraging the community in the ways you did before you got the MVP.

Anyways, being an MVP, you get access to a bunch of cool stuff. First off, a lot of 3rd party companies give you discounts and free stuff for being an MVP, which is pretty sweet. You also get access to TechNet and MSDN downloads, meaning free access to most of the Microsoft software library. In addition, you get on some private mailing lists and web casts about up-and-coming technologies and products at Microsoft. Of course you have to sign an NDA before you get access to any of this, but I think it’s well worth it.

As an MVP, you also get a lot more opportunities for speaking engagements, being featured in webcasts, and invitations to author articles and publications. All great ways to raise your tech profile and stay involved with the community that probably got you where you are.

Also, there’s the MVP Summit they have every year. Microsoft covers your hotel room, registration, and food for a 4 day event at their campus in Redmond, WA. It’s a great opportunity to meet up with some of the Microsoft employees in your MVP area and share ideas, along with hanging out with all the new and existing MVP crowd. A great networking opportunity.

I’m looking forward to all the opportunities this will provide, and hope to continue supporting the tech community in Regina and on the web for the next year. Look for some webcasts of my projects and previous presentations in the future!