This month, India MVP team reached out to “Nauzad Kapadia” one of the veteran MVPs in India region. We asked him for his experience being MVP for past several years and any best practices or tips which he would like to share with the broader MVP community.
In his own words……….
The MVP Program was initiated in India for the first time in the year 2001 and I became one in 2002. At that time, there were only about 20 MVPs from India and we were a very close knit community.
In my initial years as an MVP, there were lot of focus and importance given to newsgroups and user groups. As time evolved, new digital avenues like blogs exploded, some of the User groups, which were very active a couple of years back, saw their activities diminish and in some cases completely vanish. I have seen it happen personally with the Mumbai .NET User group. If I was asked the number one reason for this, I would attribute it to lack of team effort.
A UG is something that is very difficult for an individual person to run on his own. There are lots of people who are doing it individually, but it requires a lot of time and dedication from an individual. Most people are unable to sustain this effort and dedication over a long run because they have regular jobs and commitments to take care of as well. This is where having a team becomes very useful.
Some of most vibrant user groups that I have seen, like the Pune and the Bangalore user group, have this core team which supports each other and that’s how the momentum has not been lost even after a decade. And in my opinion, team building happens best when people interact with each other regularly and have face to face meetings every once in a while.
The monthly events in Mumbai and Pune became like a meeting point for different MVPs to share ideas and what activities they would carry out in the coming weeks. I remember conducting almost 30 workshops in different universities and colleges in Pune and Mumbai as a result of these interactions.
Personally and professionally I have benefitted a lot from the MVP Program. I grew up attending local Microsoft events and watching eminent speakers like Sanjay Vyas, Sanjay Shetty, Raj Chaudhary amongst others speak. I never imagined that I would be sharing the stage with them in the near future. I spoke regularly at local UG events and then Microsoft gave me (and other MVPs) the opportunity to speak at MSDN Events, DevDays and eventually at TechEd. Regular Product Group interactions, access to MS Connect and beta software’s, early insights into upcoming products thru the MVP summit and Open Days have given me a competitive edge compared to my peers and helped me further excel in my profession.
If I could give some tips to the new and upcoming MVPs, they would be as follows –
- Your MVP award certifies you as an independent expert and has a lot of value and respect associated it. Do not trivialize it by adopting a holier than thou attitude and resorting to flaming MS when you are asked to do something or don’t get something that you want. Even though most MVPs are technically brilliant and dedicated in the kind of community work they do, their perceptions and expectations change as soon as they become MVPs. They suddenly begin to feel that they have right to get certain things from Microsoft – like free entry into Tech-Ed or other technical events.
- Recently an MVP commented that he is expected to support MS Products blindly and would not be renewed if he said “bad” things about them. If you think like that, you haven’t really understood anything about the MVP Program. In my term as an MVP, I know for a fact that MS and the Product teams WANT constructive feedback and criticism from MVPs. As long as the criticism is genuine and not just ranting or personal preferences, it is always encouraged and expected.
- Do attend any local meetings involving other MVPs, evangelists from MS or your MVP Lead. Nothing beats human interaction and lots of good ideas and plans emerge from such meetings. Do not under any circumstances; miss the MVP open days program whenever it is conducted. It’s a lot of fun!!
- Even though we all do a lot of voluntary work, sometimes we may feel that since it is voluntary, we should not be called upon to document it in a certain way. Most of the times, the reason why you are asked to document your activities in a certain way is to present it to others in Microsoft and make them aware of your impact and reach. And more of this can only benefit you and the MVP program in future.
- Be polite and patient in your communication with others.