Recently I met with a couple of guys from Microsoft over lunch to discuss what it might take to be considered for the award of Microsoft SQL Server MVP, and I thought that I would share this information for those interested while it is fresh on my mind. After doing some research on the program I have found out some things that you might consider helpful if you strive to work towards this goal.

A little background first, about six months ago I had a couple of friends at nearly the same time tell me that I should investigate what steps were needed to become an MVP. They knew that I geek with SQL Server morning, noon, and night, weekends and holidays included, and might be a good candidate for this status. Actually I never thought much about it, because I really didn’t know anything about the program and wasn’t terribly curious to go investigate. Then shortly thereafter, someone from work mentioned it, which prompted my curiosity - one of the directors at the office said that it would be nice to have a SQL MVP at our Dallas office. Seeing that the company where I work has 200 employees at our local office, over 8000 in the United States, and 96,000+ world-wide, I figured that we should have some MVPs floating around. Add to this the fact that we just won a distinguished partner award, the two seemed to go hand-in-hand. After doing some investigation though, I was a bit shocked to find only one SQL Server MVP (John Paul Cook, who is located in another office and by the way a genius at infrastructure as well as SQL. There very well may be more, but he is the only one that I am aware of). At that time, I did some more reading, asked questions here and there, and came to the conclusion that, yeah, I might go ahead and investigate this a little…it may be cool to work towards becoming a SQL Server MVP.

So I pinged some resources at our office and was hooked up with a former Microsoft employee who is now working for us as our practice area lead. He in turn contacted a couple of folks from the local Microsoft office, and we all got together to chat about the SQL Server MVP program. Here are a few take-ways for you, in case you are interested in going for this award. These were suggestions directly from two Microsoft SQL Server folks out of the Irving, TX office; to what degree or route for a candidate to follow is up to him/her, and this serves as an outline from my notes:

  1. Certifications – Get your certifications. This was one of the very first things mentioned. You have to have these up-to-date as well. Certs from 1999 are probably not what they have in mind so much.
  2. Blog – You have to have a SQL Server blog that you regularly contribute to. Pick interesting topics here.
  3. Speaking regularly at engagements – Make it a point to speak at local and, if possible, national events. This can include local SQL Server groups, SQL Saturdays, or other SQL Server events.
  4. Attend national events – PASS, and DevConnections or SQLServerconnections. And, get to know the folks there. Make contacts.
  5. Get to know someone on the product team – This is important, and probably a difficult one to achieve. You may meet these folks from events attended as noted. Meet someone and work with that person; you may assist them by doing some research, testing, or other proof of concept work.
  6. Attend Microsoft Partner events – Such as the partner conference that is going on now in Redmond.
  7. Write or assist with a book – This is one that is probably difficult as well, but will help greatly. Find out from authors if you can contribute to a chapter in an upcoming book.
  8. Contribute to some of the popular web sites – such as SQLServerCentral or MSSqltips.
  9. Specialize in a product within SQL Server– SQL Azure and Parallel Data Warehouse come to mind. In other words, choose a feature in the product and specialize in it. Write a blog about it, etc. and become a source of information to help the community. I sort of pulled out of them that it wouldn’t hurt to pick a topic that a lot of folks aren’t already blogging about or researching.
  10. Get active on social.msdn.com You have to contribute regularly to Microsoft’s forums; they will check this for your participation in helping customers resolve problems. One of the first things that the committee will go look at.
  11. Create training productsOne of the local guys here in Dallas has a side business doing training videos. This is a major contribution to the community.
  12. Get out and meet local MVPs While you can nominate yourself, there may be some SQL Server MVPs in your area to get to know. Find out how they got nominated, how they got their award, and specifics on what they did to achieve their recognition.
  13. Build something This one was suggested, but to a lesser degree these days. You might create a set of products to put out on Codeplex, for instance, that will help the community solve something that is currently not in the delivered toolset.

One thing that was not mentioned but I sort of figured out…it will help to work for a company that will support you in this effort. You obviously can’t afford to take time off of work and fly across the country on your own nickel, so it is imperative to work for someone willing to assist you with the process. This also requires them to know, to a degree, what they will get in return for having a SQL Server MVP on staff, and understand the benefits of their investment. If you have no support in this area, it will be more difficult, in my opinion. Working for an insurance company or maybe a clothing retailer (not that there is anything wrong with these industries) might not be as good as working for a consulting company or products specialty company. As you can see, there are a lot of tracks or avenues to go about becoming a SQL Server MVP; you probably can’t do all of them, but can certainly take-on many.

So, what do you think? Are you interested in pursuing this status? Do you have the determination to achieve this goal? Do you live, eat, breathe, sleep, wake up thinking Microsoft SQL Server?  After meeting with the guys mentioned, I’ve sort of concluded that I’m not on this track at the present time. I tend to enjoy doing other things, stuff that you read about on my blog, and haven’t ventured out too far with some of the requirements that they have suggested to me. Remember that not everyone will become an MVP – you have to position yourself to ‘stand out’ amongst the crowd, so to speak, and at the end of the day you may be nominated but may not receive the reward. But, it’s definitely something to keep in mind for the future. No doubt that the folks that I have met who are MVPs are really super class-acts for sure; someone attaining the status will enjoy the camaraderie and friendships that will be made for a lifetime, and will open up very rewarding paths and opportunities throughout a career.

Thanks for visiting,

Lee Everest M.S. 
texastoo.com

 

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