If You're an MS MVP, How Did You Get Started?

Maybe today isn't the best time to write this with a death in the family, but can't help but think about life, the future, my parents, my past, and where my life is heading... I know a little, often a very, very little bit, about a lot of things.  I enjoy far too many things to ever focus on any one thing for any length of time.  With this massive interest, it complicates how I try to master any one or few things.  Someday I would like to be nominated as a Microsoft MVP.  Having this honor would vindicate my life on so many levels, and with this honor, I bet my experience at my current job would be so much more enjoyable--not with the Title honor, but with the technical knowledge having this honor would imply.

May I ask if you have been or are currently an MS MVP, how did you get started?  Did you start a blog?  Did you just jump on forums and help out where you could?  Did you write/publish code?  How did you get started in technology?

I have several ideas for blogs, but I tend to not write because I'm afraid of publishing bad grammar, etc.  If you blog, would you say you have good/great grammar or do you blog even without the grammar perfection?

Thank you for your time.  Any other advice you have for someone wanting to increase their technical skills but don't know where to start would be appreciated.

Thank you,
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First of all, great question, kinda wondered the whole process myself.... With that said, I am not an MVP, although I was nominated for one in Outlook about 2 years ago, based solely on my experience here in that Topic Area. I have been wondering what it takes as well, as my experience/ranks in that zone are very overwhelmed by my knowledge, and online performance in Windows XP/Windows/Microsoft OS zones. This will be my third year (out of the last 4 I think, maybe 5) as the Top Expert in XP and maybe even a few other zones as well, granted I dont fall off the earth....

I have really been hoping to get that recognition, as there are several MVPs out here in this site. I do know that they look in online contributions very heavily, as well as offline contributions as well I believe.....

I am really hoping that you get some good responses to this thread, as it has really been a goal of mine for some time as well....

Good luck....

Oh, and btw, my typing skills arent worth a squat, if you have ever seen my threads.....   :-)

IESpell goes along way when I remember to use it.....
Rick FeeMessaging Engineer - Disaster Recovery EngineerCommented:
Chris DentPowerShell DeveloperCommented:
Hi Jason,

I was lucky enough to hold an MVP award for Windows Server - Directory Services from 2007 to 2008. I was nominated by a fellow member of this site.

> May I ask if you have been or are currently an MS MVP, how did you get started?

On here back in 2004.

> Did you start a blog?  

Eventually, that came after my award and went through several different versions before ending up with my current blog.

> Did you just jump on forums and help out where you could?  

Yes, although the MVP award was never my goal, learning and helping (and not being too bored) are. Don't get me wrong, I was aware of the MVP and had hoped, in a vague sense, but the eventual nomination and award came as a surprise.

> Did you write/publish code?  

I do now (PowerShell for the most part), but didn't at the time.

> How did you get started in technology?

I started it, along with my career in IT, when I was 21; my first job was a desktop support contract. When you started has very little bearing on this though, there's a massive range: from those who started as a second, or third, or later career, and people who have been committed since childhood.

> If you blog, would you say you have good/great grammar or do you blog even without the grammar perfection?

Good, but my opinion may be biased :)

I read a small number of blogs on a semi-regular basis. Writing styles differ, but all of them are clear. Clarity and presentation are more important than grammatical perfection.

> Any other advice you have for someone wanting to increase their technical skills but don't know where to
> start would be appreciated.

You can do a lot worse than answer questions on here, the site boasts a fair number of current MVPs, many of which do nothing more than that. Even if you do more in the end, it's a fine way to start out.

Good luck!


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IBeSmittyAuthor Commented:
Thanks everyone for your responses so far, especially Chris.  If it's alright with everyone, I'd like to give it a few more days for people to chime in, then I'll accept a solution.

Mike TomlinsonHigh School Computer Science, Computer Applications, and Mathematics TeachersCommented:
I've been an MVP since 2007 solely thru my contributions here at EE.  I've only recently written an Article (again, here at EE) and recently created a YouTube channel.  So answering questions alone is enough to warrant an MVP award...I'm just not sure what they base their decision on as different zones have different amounts of traffic.

When I first started with EE I really only answered question in the classic VB6 zone and then eventually branched out into VB.Net/C# and all the related zones.  Helping others here has definitely broadened my technical skills and horizons!

I would say just start answering as many questions as you can and attempt to answer/help with questions that may be slightly out of your comfort zone to help expand your knowledge.  If you stick around long enough (I answered questions for 4 years before getting an award) then MVPs who have been here before you may take notice and nominate you.

I would definitely have to agree with Chris on "clarity and presentation" over grammatical perfection.  Even if you make mistakes, you'll only get better if you write often and people understand that you are not usually working with an editor in a blog/video tutorial type of environment.  If you are active in your posts, readily admit your mistakes, and correct them; then that usually goes a long way to demonstrate humility and willingness to make things correct.  Whenever I can, I boil a problem down into a "bare bones" example so it can be easily visualized and understood.  Then, if necessary, I can take that example and extend it to a more complicated problem.

Hope you SPLIT points between all participants in this question.  =)
byundtMechanical EngineerCommented:
In talking to my MVP lead, Microsoft is looking for people who:
  • Demonstrate excellence in unpaid service to the community. Service can take the form of answering questions, writing articles, publishing a blog (all of which you can demonstrate on Experts Exchange), writing a book or public speaking.
  • Are consistently professional. It's easy to be professional when answering a well-written question from an appreciative Asker. But do you keep your cool when provoked?
  • Aren't in it just for the award. Would you participate at the same high level if you lost your MVP status?
  • Post information that is consistently correct. Do you test your suggestions before posting? Do you try to provide a complete answer with your first post? Do you own up to mistakes?
You do need to come to the attention of the MVP lead. For some of us, an existing MVP submitted a formal nomination. Other people may be noticed while the MVP lead is trolling through likely sites. I assume that's why the Excel Zone went from 0 MVP to 6 in July 2007. Our MVP lead told us at the subsequent Summit that there had been an issue over EE being a pay site--but that bar was eliminated when he realized that the Experts aren't paid.

Being an MVP lead is a full-time job at Microsoft. To make sure they identify the right people to receive the award, the lead will likely read through hundreds of your posts. This is true both for new nominees and existing MVPs up for reaward. The MVP lead reads thousands of posts a day every day of the week during the evaluation season.

Is good grammar necessary? Clear communication is important, and good grammar helps. But many MVPs post in English as a second language on Experts Exchange, so minor grammatical issues can definitely be overlooked.

I personally find my life enriched by the interactions with people I am helping. They come from all over the world and have day jobs quite different from mine. I learn from talking to them at the same time as they learn from my experience with Excel. Most of these interactions start with the "Good Answer" email, and continue through supplementary comments.

Out of ten questions I tackle, at least a couple will teach me something I didn't know beforehand, or had forgotten. When you work on thousands of questions, that experience adds up. Does the knowledge help me in my day job? Not as much as I'd have guessed. But the knack of intuiting the Asker's real need and communicating technical matters clearly definitely pays big dividends.

IBeSmittyAuthor Commented:
Thank you to everyone that responded.  I hope I have shared points fairly enough.  I appreciated all of your responses, it was tough to pick just one as the best, as you all contributed to what I was looking for.  Thanks again.  :)
Mike KlineCommented:
Some other places to hang out at are also the TechNet forums in your specialty.  There Microsoft and other MVPs will also notice you.  One thing I did for years was comment on blogs.  Now I did this with no intention of being an MVP but looking back on it I'm guessing that got my name out there to some important people.

In the end if you work hard on EE, Technet, writing a blog, publish code, speaking, or whatever it will probably come.  Sort of like the movie field of dreams "If you build it they will come..."

Sorry about the death in the family and that often does make us stop and  reflect on our lives and our own mortality but I would add that the MVP shouldn't validate you, your life, or anything like that.   Just keep trying to make it day to day...what we all do...I did that before I was an MVP and it hasn't changed since I got the MVP.

Good luck and hope to see you at an MVP summit someday.


Chris DentPowerShell DeveloperCommented:
Good luck Jason,

Hopefully we'll see you around on here :)

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