What does it really take to become an MVP? Peter Laker provides some answers

MVP Peter Laker 1st March 2017

This is the first 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.

The MVP Award gives Microsoft the unique opportunity to celebrate, honour and say thank you to top-notch technology experts who make outstanding contributions to their communities (www.mvp.microsoft.com)

I spoke with Peter Laker [1], congratulating him on his recently acquired MVP status. Here’s his insight on what it really takes to become an MVP, and once you are an MVP, what it involves.

What were your motivations to becoming an MVP?

“My main interest was in community building. Building tools and developing groups within the TechNet and MSDN communities. I made good friends in the growing circles of interest I was developing, like the TechNet Wiki Top Contributors weekly competition and the monthly TechNet Guru competition. So, in that respect, I was gaining as much as I was giving.

I was gaining the attention of people within Microsoft. Making a name for myself. Just helping out, being useful and making friends. I was also a regular contributor and answered queries on whatever forums related to my current skill set. This was also very rewarding, as it gave me a chance to gain a deeper understanding of the technology, see how others worked and solved issues, and again made many friends, developed a local group reputation.

My motivations were simply to bring like-minded intellectuals together around the subjects I like to learn more about.”

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

“Work tirelessly for whatever your technical interest is. Sacrifice valuable spare time for the cause. Make regular contributions over a long period. Make yourself known, stand out and truly make a difference. Really care for what you do, sometimes to the point of obsessive. You can’t fake it forever, you really must be that type of person to make a difference and build a reputation.”

What difference have you found it’s made to your career and life?

“New contacts from all over the world! We meet once a year in Seattle for the Global MVP Conference. An amazing experience I will never forget, where some of the most passionate community members come together to help shape the coming year. I have had offers come out of the blue from companies requiring IoT advice because I am truly riding the wave of bleeding-edge technologies and the very latest developments.

I have also now joined many new groups, as an MVP. We get a lot of things from partner companies too, like free software, free SSL certificate, training courses, the chance to unlock and contribute to some of Microsoft’s most secret core code, and a whole host of regular NDA MVP-only presentations and skype calls about what is coming next. We have private chat groups and private forums, where Microsoft product developers talk candidly with their most passionate developers.

And of course, there is a year’s supply of full open-access MSDN downloads & keys! Everything Microsoft has to offer for any budding small company. It is basically a great big springboard to your career! Did you know you get a great big glass trophy too, plus a bumper pack of win!”

What are the pros and cons so far?

“Pros are all the free stuff, new contacts! I haven’t found any cons yet! You lose it after a year if you don’t continue to contribute enough in some way, which ensures MVPs remain valuable.”

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

“Don’t TRY to be an MVP, try and make a real noticeable difference to an area of technology that is important to Microsoft. Try to get noticed. Try to make friends and get nominated. If you have to nominate yourself, you must be doing something wrong! :)”

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

“I hadn’t really thought that far ahead to be honest. I am still incredibly busy every day right now and splitting my time as best I can between my work; my community and of course my family! All three are very demanding!”

So, based on our interview with Peter 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 Peter 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 Neil Parkhurst shares his experience on becoming an MVP.

[1] Peter Laker Profile: https://www.mvp.microsoft.com/en-us/PublicProfile/5001916?fullName=Peter%20%20Laker

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.

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