So like me, you are interested in becoming and Microsoft MVP and wonder how exactly to do that?
The main criteria to become a Microsoft MVP is to contribute to the community, and over 10 years ago that’s exactly what I started doing by creating SQL Server BI Stack (T-SQL, SSIS, SSRS, SSAS) blog, which I later on expanded into an e-learning website, which at some point was being visited by 100,000 visitors a month, did a quite a few YouTube videos, presented at SQL Bits, local users, did even Europe Tour in an electric car. I was quite popular and was even getting new contracts from people who knew me from my website and contributions, and I was wondering for a while if that is sufficient to become a Microsoft MVP…. and the answer is no! 🙂
You can contribute a lot in various ways which can be a lot of things, some of which are described here, which is essential criteria to become a Microsoft MVP, but there is one more step you need to take!
You need to ask a Microsoft Employee or active MVP to nominate you!
That would explain why I never got a nomination ;D
But’s let’s cover things in more details on how to become a Microsoft MVP and I’ll share with you my own plan.
By the way here’s the official Microsoft MVP page.
Microsoft MVP Categories
One of the first things that is useful to know is figure out which Microsoft MVP category do you want to aim at and figure out if you have the time to contribute sufficiently to be recognized as a Microsoft MVP in your chosen category.
The recognition / award is valid for 1 year, and you need to renew it, although renewal process is unclear to me at this moment.
In my case, one big difference is that my career focus changed from SQL Server BI Stack / Data Warehousing to Power BI. Secondly in 2018 I got seriously ill and was diagnosed with Mental Health Disorder called schizophrenia and fortunately after 2.5 years I recovered to a point where I hope to have a normal life, and most importantly have the time again to contribute.
There are 11 Microsoft MVP categories which are:
- Data Platform
- Developer Technologies
- Office Development
- Windows Development
- Microsoft Azure
- Cloud & Datacenter Management
- Enterprise Mobility
- Windows & Devices for IT
- Office Apps & Services
- Business Applications
Each category has contribution area for instance for Data Platform we have:
- Power BI
- Data Warehousing (Azure SQL Data Warehouse, Fast Track & APS)
- SQL Server Reporting Services & Analysis Services
- many other ones
As much as my career focus changes from SQL Server / Data Warehousing to Power BI, my category is the same, so my goal is to become a Microsoft MVP in Data Platform category.
You can find contribution areas for each category using Microsoft Article.
Microsoft MVP Contributions
I am of an opinion that it’s a good idea to do things in life that are aligned with our personalities & values, so we can enjoy doing whether we are paid for it or not, and by the way you are not paid to be a Microsoft MVP, however being an MVP can lead to a better paid job, a pay rise or a few new clients (Freelancing / Consulting) so some MVPs can be indirectly rewarded for their free contributions.
Here is a list of things that you can contribute and is likely to help you become an MVP:
- Content creator (Blog, Articles, Videos).
- Helping others (forums, mentoring etc.)
- Social Media activities (Posts etc.)
- Speaker (Conferences, User Groups, Webinars)
- Writing a book
- Creating software for communities
- Contribution code to projects
- Live coder
As I want to be recognized for my contribution in Data Platform Microsoft MVP category, most of my contributions will relate to Power BI, but I may do related content as well and cover Azure, SQL Server and things that interest me.
My contributions will mainly be:
- Books – I’ve already written a free ebook “A Career with Microsoft Power BI – 2021 Edition” and hope to make the content up to date each year.
- Webinars – All my webinars will focus on Power BI for now, however I have two audiences; one technical for Power BI technical stuff, and non-technical for my “Life Intelligence with Power BI” Group where I show how to apply Power BI in life!
- Blog – Mostly related to Power BI, stuff I come across at work or life, and some personal stories.
- Social Media posts, but only LinkedIn.
- Post Covid-19…. Speak at conferences, local user groups etc.
- and… Develop Power BI Dashboards and calculators that everyone can download and use.
That should be enough to keep me busy every year and hopefully be recognized as a Microsoft MVP.
Consider created a blog post that lists all your contributions in one place to make it easier for someone to review it and it might be a good idea to have another blog post to share statistics related to your audience, which I plan to do using Power BI 🙂
Microsoft MVP Nomination
Once you feel you have contributed sufficiently to the community in a given year, you can have a go and ask a Microsoft Full Time Employee or active MVP to nominate you!
My strategy for nomination is that I will check who in my country (UK) is a Microsoft MVP in Data Platform category or someone outside of my country that I like and is an MVP (Search for an MVP), see if I can find someone specializing in Power BI or BI and politely ask if they have time to review what I have contributed recently and nominate me (Which can be done here).
Of course it’s best to get in touch with someone you had some kind of relationships with, met or exchanged emails / LinkedIn messages, however if that’s not the case, don’t worry I’m confident you will find someone understanding who will be willing to create a new relationship with you, even if you are a stranger when you first contact them 🙂
But wait before you do ask someone to nominate you, actually consider sending an introduction message to Community Program Manager in your country who will be the one involved in reviewing it, and let them know that you plan to become a Microsoft MVP, which is a great commitment for yourself 😀
I’ve done quite a bit this year, with limited time I had, and hope to allocate a few hours each week to contribute on a regular basis so I hope to ask someone to nominate me later this year, wish me luck, and I hope you will also be recognized for your contribution!
Here are three videos on the same subject I watched that I found very interesting:
- I am Tim Corey – How Do I Become a Microsoft MVP?
2) nz365gyt – YouTube Playlist with lots of videos on this subject.
3) Ruth (Curbal) – How I got the Microsoft MVP award, and how you can get it too