What does it really take to become a Microsoft MVP? Neil Parkhurst provides some answers

MVP Neil Parkhurst 14th March 2017

This is the second in a series of articles where we discover how to get nominated for Most Valuable Professional (MVP) status and the pros and cons of what it involves.

Neil Parkhurst [1] achieved Microsoft MVP status in October 2016, and in this interview, he reveals what it really takes to become an MVP, and after you achieve the status, what it involves.

What were your motivations to becoming an MVP?

“I don’t think anybody can set out to become an MVP. The award is based on 12 months’ effort you simply can’t keep up the required effort with only the award in mind. In fact, when I first started my blog I didn’t really understand what an MVP was.

I started to think seriously about the award after my blog had been running for almost a year. I contacted an MVP to ask him what he thought my blog. I was simply looking for his views on what improvements, his response was to nominate me.”

How did you become an MVP? What helped you stand out from the crowd?

“MVPs, are technology experts who passionately share their knowledge with the community. Firstly, you need to demonstrate technical excellence but then additionally you need to support “your” community by sharing knowledge. This can be done in so many ways. Including contributing on forums, writing blogs posts, speaking at events etc.

It is hard to know how I stood out specifically, as Microsoft don’t share that information. But I am a prolific blogger and often write about subject’s others aren’t covering. Rather than having a blog which randomly covered all aspects of Dynamics CRM, I decided very early on to focus on Unified Service Desk (USD).

I do still often blog about USD but now I’ve gained recognition I have started to widen the scope of my blog to include guides to help people pass certifications, Field Service etc.”

What difference has being an MVP made to your career and life?

“I’ll turn 50 next year! So, I’ve worked in IT for quite a few years, even so becoming an MVP is without a doubt the highlight of my career. Getting this type of recognition is an amazing buzz that really has made a difference to me.

Since becoming an MVP I’ve met some amazing people, some are fellow MVPs whilst others are senior people at Microsoft. They all have been inspirational to me. Being an MVP has given me a real confidence boost.”

What are the pros and cons so far?

“The biggest pro, so far, was attending the MVP Summit in Redmond, Seattle. Being at Microsoft HQ, engaging with the product teams face to face and mixing with loads of other MVPs was simply amazing.

The con of being an MVP is the effort it takes. Most of my MVP ‘work’ happens in my time, meaning I spend most weekends learning new skills and writing blog posts.”

What tips would you give to someone who wants to become an MVP?

“As I have said, don’t try to be an MVP! Try to focus on your chosen subject and help as many people as possible. Eventually, your passion will show and you might get recognised.

For me, writing my blog and contributing to the Dynamics Community have really helped me learn more. My goal always was to learn things by sharing my knowledge. For example, when I publish a blog post people often ask questions. Answering these questions forces me to dive deeper into the subject and helps enhance my skills.”

How do you plan to use your MVP power in the future?

“Someone at work describes my MVP power as my ‘MVP-ness’. My MVP-ness already means I am invited to get involved in some interesting events. I am working with a couple of guys to set-up a local CRM user group, I’ve also been asked to present at the EMEA Summit in Amsterdam.

An important point here is that you only keep the MVP award for 12 months. To keep it next year I need to keep contributing to the technical community. I have no guarantee of gaining the award next year but my thoughts are obviously very much focused on it.”

So, based on our interview with Neil and other MVPs, here are 5 key messages to becoming an MVP:

1. Make a noticeable difference to an area of Microsoft technology. Find your niche subject in that area, focus and study it as much as you can
2. Start to build a strong reputation in this area by creating a blog, contributing to forums and offering to speak at events
3. Build a following and a community, help support and advise this community with questions they may have, if you don’t know the answer, make it your mission to find it out
4. Widen the scope of your blog by including guides to pass certifications or to learn your chosen technology
5. Connect with MVP’s in your field. Ask them for feedback or advice on your blog, also ask them about events you can attend to build your community in that technology

I hope this blog has clarified what being an MVP involves, your steps to get there and the pros and cons when you are awarded. A big thank you goes to Neil for answering our questions and sharing his experience.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below or contact me directly (laura.tejada{at}curotalent{dot}com), we have a large and supportive Talent Community and are always happy to help.

There is another article in the series where Peter Laker shares his experience on becoming an MVP.

[1] Neil Parkhurst MVP Profile: https://www.mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/PublicProfile/5002171?fullName=Neil%20%20Parkhurst

Laura Tejada

Author: Laura Tejada

Laura started her recruitment career in 2007 and focused on IT recruitment in 2012. She classes herself as a ‘resourcing geek’ always reading the latest blogs on boolean strings and social recruitment strategies. She prides herself on giving 100% commitment to the people she works with, this has enabled her to build an excellent reputation in the technical world working with IT contractors year upon year.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the view and opinion of Curo Talent.

One Response to “What does it really take to become a Microsoft MVP? Neil Parkhurst provides some answers”

  1. David P Lundell

    Excellent interview of a fellow Microsoft MVP. I have gotten to know some incredible people in the MVP program andI have written a book about it: “How to Be an MVP in Life: Lessons in Living and Leadership from Sports & Tech MVPs” featuring interviews with 18 Microsoft MVPs, as well as the 2016 World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist, and stories from 2 time Pro-Sports MVPs: Steve Nash, Dale Murphy, Steve Young and Sid the Kid Crosby. #MVPInLife https://www.davidplundell.com/


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