How to Become a Microsoft MVP

Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) are technical community leaders who are awarded the prestigious Microsoft MVP Award for voluntarily sharing their real-world expertise. The Microsoft Award is given by Microsoft to recognize the community work of technical people who advocate and promote Microsoft technologies.
 
Being a former 14-time Microsoft MVP and a former Microsoft Regional Director, let me share my experience with the Microsoft’s MVP award including how to become an MVP, its benefits, and the activities involved to receive the award.
 
Let me be clear, the Microsoft MVP Award is not a job. Microsoft MVPs do not get paid for their work. The award criteria, its benefits, and its nomination process may change anytime.
 
Note: Microsoft MVP should not be confused with C# Corner MVP. A C# Corner MVP is the person who is contributing to the C# Corner website. Learn more here, How to Become a C# Corner MVP.
 

How did I become a Microsoft MVP?

 
I started C# Corner in Dec 1999 when Microsoft introduced the alpha version of its C# language. I knew at that time that this language will change the way we write code, and here we are. 20 years later, C# has become one of the most popular and loved programming languages in the world.
 
Prior to C# Corner, I was sharing my C++, MFC, ATL, COM, and DCOM code via Mindcracker.com, which is a code-sharing website no more. By 2003, C# Corner had already become one of the popular online communities.
 
In 2005, I got a message from the MVP Lead from India, who thought I was living in India. He asked me if it was OK for him to nominate me for the Microsoft MVP Award. Later that year, I was a Microsoft MVP.
 
That said, I did not do all this community work to receive the MVP award. Heck, I didn't even know what Microsoft MVP is at that point. I do community work because that's what I love to do. That’s who I am.
 

What is the Microsoft MVP Award?

 
The Microsoft MVP Award is an annual award given by Microsoft to outstanding community leaders who share their passion for Microsoft products and technologies with the community. The person must show leadership, community spirit, and demonstrate a positive impact and influence within the technical community.
 
The Microsoft MVP Award is for the contributions over the past year through various communities in forms of writing, blogging, speaking, and hosting events focused around Microsoft technologies. In simple terms, the Microsoft MVP Award is given to community leaders who are speaking, taking and spreading the word about Microsoft technologies.
 
Microsoft MVP Trophy 
MVP Award Trophy with rings for each year. I’ve been awarded Microsoft MVP Award for 14 consecutive years from 2005 – 2018.
 

So, what does a Microsoft MVP look like?

 
A Microsoft MVP is a community leader and expert in Microsoft technologies who educates, promotes, and motivates other community members and spreads the word about new exciting technologies.
 
Microsoft MVP Mahesh Chand 
Photo setup at the Microsoft MVP Summit.
 

What is the key factor for the MVP award?

 
Besides being a passionate community leader and influencer, the key factor criteria for being awarded a Microsoft MVP is the size of the impact you make in the developer community. In other words, you may people benefit from your community activities. The activities are writing and sharing technical articles or blogs, speaking at meetups and conferences, and managing conferences or events. Contributions towards Microsoft products and feedback may also count towards your community contributions. 
  1. If you write articles/blogs, how many people read those articles and blogs.
  2. If you speak at a conference or event, how many attendees attend your sessions.
  3. If you share your knowledge via a Webinar or a Podcast, how many people join your sessions.
  4. If you publish a free eBook to the community, the number of books that are downloaded.
  5. If you have a personal blog and publish blogs each day, but no one reads your blogs, the chances of being awarded the Microsoft MVP are very slim to none.
 
Microsoft Regional Directors
Microsoft Regional Directors and MVPs at MVPs Dinner Party.
 

Is there any exam for the MVP award?

 
NO. There is no exam for the MVP award.
 

Do MVPs get paid?

 
NO. MVPs do not get paid. As a matter of fact, MVPs do not even get any discounts on Microsoft products.
 
I frequently ran into people at speaking events and conferences asking me for deals on Microsoft products and services. One of the most frequently asked questions by friends and families was, “Can you get me a deal for a Surface Book or Surface Laptop??"
 
NO! I can’t even get a deal on a mouse.
 

How do I apply for the Award?

 
Only an existing Microsoft MVP or a full-time Microsoft MVP can nominate you for the MVP award. If you think you have enough contributions to the community over the past 12 months, you may reach out to a Microsoft employee or an existing MVP to nominate you.
 

How do you get an MVP Award?

 
To get an MVP award, you need to start sharing your expertise with community members such as speaking at local user groups, chapters, and conferences, writing articles/blogs, replying to technical questions on various forums, and organizing community events.
 
Once you feel like you’ve enough contributions over the past year, you may reach out to a local Microsoft FTE or an existing MVP to ask you to nominate you for the MVP award.
 

What are the benefits of being a Microsoft MVP?

 
Let me start with this: If your goal is to get benefit from the award, then you may be the wrong person for the award. The award is to recognize your community contributions.
 
Microsoft MVP Certificate 
Microsoft MVP Certificate
 

Microsoft MVP Award

 
However, there are certain direct and indirect benefits you receive along with the Award.
  1. A certificate from Microsoft
  2. Some goodies - Wallet, Pen, etc.
  3. MSDN/Azure/LinkedIn subscriptions and benefits
  4. Invitations to MVP annual conferences and events
  5. Options to participate in early adoption programs
  6. Interaction with product managers and teams working at Microsoft
  7. Interaction with other fellow MVPs 
One of the key benefits I like about being a Microsoft MVP is that you are seen as a thought-leader and influencer in the space, and you also get to meet experts from all around the world and expand your professional network.
 
Microsoft MVPs 
Microsoft MVPs at a reception.
 
Microsoft MVP Party
Microsoft Regional Directors and MVPs at C# Corner Dinner Party.
 
Microsoft MVPs are like a family where you hang out with other MVPs, discuss technologies, and have fun.
 
Microsoft MVP Dinner Party
Scott Hanselman and Mads Torgerson at a Dinner Party.
 
Microsoft MVP Summit
Mahesh Chand and Mads Torgerson at MVP Summit.
 
You also meet and interact with Microsoft employees who are building products. For example, if you’re a Microsoft MVP in Visual Studio, you may get a chance to meet the team who is actually building the product. 
 
Magnus Mads 
3Ms (Magnus, Mahesh, and Mads) at a Dinner Party.
 
Other indirect benefits could be related to jobs. If you’re looking for a job, there may be some MVPs who themselves or their company may be hiring. It is all about professional networking and the potential is unlimited.