I get lots of questions on how to become an MVP, so I thought I'd make a blog entry about it. My most recent inquiry involved asking how to "obtain the Microsoft MVP Certification". I always enjoy requests like this, because they tell me people are excited about Microsoft Products and technologies and using them - or they need a really good resume piece. Either way usually people are serious about the technology which always makes me smile. Lets clear a few things up first:
1.) The MVP program isn't a certification. It's an award. As such there is nothing you can do to "guarantee" you can get an MVP award.
2.) The MVP program is a Microsoft awarded recognition given to non Microsoft paid staff - as a way to recognize their community efforts.
Lets detail my MVP tract real quickly. I'm sure there are those in the industry that could tell you much better, as I'm only in my first year of the MVP award - but I like the sound of my keys clicking so lets press on!
I actually got my start in web design very early on in the HTML days working for a company called Parsons Technology, which later became Intuit, Broderbund and Eventually Mattel (kinda). We did very basic HTML type web "sites" because there wasn't much else you could do. We are talking the late days of Windows 3.11 / Windows 95 Emergence. I put it down for a long time after that, having no real use for it (enterprise networking for Microsoft on the east coast). Sometime around 2002 I got involved in a start-up company, that was going to business on the Internet as it's primary objective. I needed to learn the web all over again, and this time it involved classic asp / asp.net 1.1. My choice of medium was Dreamweaver MX and I honestly cant say I'm better for it. What it DID do was give me a strong understanding of UI and the disconnected state of the web. What it also did, was shield me from any semblance of programming, or programmatic web applications. Now, those tools and utilities were there I'm sure, but I never found them, and when I did, sure never found them easy to use - but I digress. I had a very good friend at the time recommend I start using Visual Studios 2003 and asp.net 1.1 to "program" my website. Needless to say I failed miserably at it based on my bad habits developed in Macromedia's Web tool. I ended up going with a prebuilt system called DotNetNuke (version 3.something). I cant rave about it enough, which through another digression leads me back to the intent of this story! I found in short order that there were lots of areas that I could tailor to fit the needs of my company better, but I had to learn a few things first; Hello www.asp.net.
I found myself landed at the home of the .net website support. I also found myself a regular "reader" of as many solutions as I could. About the time the .net 2.0 framework and web design model came out, and we were all learning it at the same time, I realized something. I could answer more questions than I asked. In fact, in most cases I wasn't asking questions on the forums anymore, I was answering! About a year later I had somewhere around 1500 posts (they've since been reset), was running a successful blog that was visited on a regular basis, had two major web applications in production environments for large companies and was involved in another start-up company. All because .NET was something I loved and adapted to.
The Email! It was around January or February I think when the email came in my inbox. It stated clearly that I'd been nominated for a Microsoft MVP position - and that I should submit examples of my work, communities I frequent, speaking engagements I would be involved in, and any publications I'd contributed to and I could possibly be a Microsoft MVP for the asp.net / visual discipline.
I should probably make something clear at this point: Of course this is my opinion and I wouldn't even venture to guess about Microsoft's Stance, if they even have a specific one but....
Posting on the forums with the goal of earning points, rather than helping people wont help you.
Striving to be an MVP - just to be an MVP wont help you.
Because it is an "award" it's given out to those in the industry that do what they do, even without an award attached. I don't want to sound self righteous - but I don't want a bunch of MVP's running around, just so they can use it as a claim to fame.
A very wise person once told me - 'Do what you love, and the things you love will come from that. Do what you do for the love of things, and you are destined for heartache'
Good luck for all those that aspire to be better at what they do, to help people in the industry and community, and to produce high quality, well programmed, well designed applications, because that's the only way to build them that's worth the time it takes.