How to become Microsoft MVP (Excel MVP)

This article is to share my experience to become Microsoft MVP – Excel (Microsoft Most Valuable Professional).

Introduction of Microsoft MVP

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I received the Microsoft MVP – Excel award on July 1st 2015 and it was my first Microsoft MVP award. I have done many research before I applied for Microsoft MVP, and I have seen many articles on the internet that copy the official information form the Microsoft website which is not helpful at all. In this article, I will share everything I know from my own experience and from my research.

What is Microsoft MVP?

Microsoft MVP are people who are eager to share their Microsoft product knowledge with others. They make so much contributions to the community that Microsoft wants to recognize their efforts in the past 12 months with an award called “Microsoft MVP award”. It is important to note that Microsoft MVP do not know everything, some people who don’t know Excel VBA can be Excel MVP.

Each Microsoft product has its own MVP. For example, each year about 130 people are awarded MVP for their contribution to Excel, Microsoft Access has about 70 MVP, Visual C++ has about 100 MVP. Usually people don’t call them Microsoft MVP as it is too long and non product specific, instead they say Excel MVP, ASP MVP, Sharepoint MVP, etc.

Microsoft MVP status has an expiry date, it only lasts for 1 year. At the 9th month, you need to reapply for Microsoft MVP to renew status.

How does Microsoft select Microsoft MVP?

Anyone aged 18 / non-government officials / non Microsoft employee can nominate themselves or ask other Microsoft MVP/non-MVP to nominate. It does not matter whether you nominate yourself or nominated by someone, Microsoft selects Microsoft MVP based on the amount of contribution, you don’t have to wait for someone to nominate you. You can do the nomination at https://mvp.microsoft.com/ . In that website, you have to fill in an online application, where you need to write down what kind of contributions you have made. The application will then pass to the regional MVP office.

I am not sure about the subsequent nomination process in other countries, but for my country (Hong Kong), the regional MVP team then sent me another application form in local script in Microsoft Word via Email which was slightly different from the online one. The regional team reviewed my application and passed my application to the U.S. Microsoft to compare my contribution against other candidates in the world.

According to Microsoft, there are less than 4000 people awarded each year. Microsoft claims that they do not have quota for number of Microsoft MVP for each country, in fact, the number of Microsoft MVP have grown as compared with early years.

What do I get from Microsoft MVP award?

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  • A certificate
  • A trophy (you don’t get this again for renewal, only the year block will be given)
  • Recommendation letter from Microsoft
  • 1 year MSDN subscription
  • A chance to participate in various Microsoft events and calls, including annual MVP Global Submit in the U.S.
  • The privilege to claim yourself a Microsoft MVP and use MVP logo (however, many people illegally use the Microsoft MVP logo in their website after their Microsoft MVP status expire)
  • Other minor stuff

The certificate and trophy are shipped together in a box by DHL, it took 1 to 2 weeks to deliver the pack from U.S. Microsoft.

Application deadline of Microsoft MVP

Microsoft says there is no application deadline for Microsoft MVP, because it is an ongoing selection. In fact, there is application deadline for each quarter.

Quarter 1 selection – Early in January, receive congratulation email on Mar 31/ April 1 (you will not receive regret email)

Quarter 2 selection – Early in April, receive congratulation email on Jun 30/ July 1

Quarter 3 selection – Early in July, receive congratulation email on Sep 30 / Oct 1

Quarter 4 selection – Early in October, receive congratulation email on Dec 31 / Jan 1

From my research, I don’t think the deadline of application for each year is the same, so I cannot tell the exact date. But I suggest you to submit before 5th of the deadline month.

You have to submit your contribution in the past 12 months in the application. For example if you submit your application on April 1st 2015, the contribution period is from April 1st 2014 to March 31st 2015. The contribution does not have to be evenly distributed across the year. For example, if you make 100 blog posts in a month, and another person makes 5 blog posts every month, 100 blog posts is better than 60 posts.

How can I become Microsoft MVP – Excel

The key is sharing knowledge with others by any means, and more importantly, you can prove what you have done.

Below are just some examples of what you can do

  • Write blog
  • Write article
  • Write books
  • Answer forum questions
  • Forum moderating
  • Teaching
  • Public speaking

Most MVP write blog and answer forum questions, I will talk more about these two.

Blogging

A couple of years back, I wrote down everything I learned in a notebook, including Excel and Access Functions I learned. However, I found it very difficult to insert, modify and search stuff, so I created a blog at home and I accessed my blog at my workplace. I had not even heard about Microsoft MVP at that time.

Assume that you are already using that particular Microsoft product everyday at work, you just write what you already know in your experience. When you have finished writing everything you know, try to explore the unknown on the internet, or buy a book. In the process, you will learn more and continue to explore more.

So how many blog posts should you write in order to get the Microsoft MVP award? This question is very difficult to answer.
You can do research by reading the Microsoft MVP profile in the MVP site. You can search most (but not all) Microsoft MVP profiles and look at what they write about themselves, sometimes they include a link of their blogs, the links to the forum they answer questions, but what you see on their description could be tip of the iceberg of their total contribution, but at least you can have some ideas what they did. According to my research, I believe some people are awarded even if they made less than 50 blog posts, but I did not research how many words they write on average and what are the quality. For me, you can check the number in the archive as a reference.

Answering questions in forum

You can go to the official Microsoft Forum (such as Technet, MSDN, Microsoft Community, Office 365) to answer questions, answer questions in other forums such as stackoverflow also counts towards the contribution. When you answer a question, you need to note the followings:

  1. Microsoft counts how many replies that have been marked as “Answer” by the person who raised the question, not how many replies you have made. For example, you can make 10000 replies but only 10 are marked as Answer, therefore only 10 are taken as contribution
  2. Achieve a high resolution rate, a high percentage of your replies being marked as “Answer” implies that your answers have very high quality and accuracy
  3. Do not waste time to answer questions that have been given reply which you think will be marked as “Answer”
  4. You can answer 100 questions but it may turn out only 50 people mark your replies as “Answer”, chances are other people may hijack the post you are replying, or the person who raised the question was lazy to mark Answer. Forum moderators may help to mark Answer but don’t hold out much hope
  5. It is better to answer questions in English forum, otherwise the U.S. Microsoft team could be difficult to review the answers
  6. Answer technical questions. MVP award is not just about sharing, it is also about how much you know about the product

There are people who answer hundreds of questions in the year but they have not got the Microsoft MVP award, I believe it is because they didn’t nominate themselves for the award, or answering questions weigh less than writing blog posts. There are also people who don’t answer questions at all but they can still get the Microsoft MVP award, because they have made contributions in other ways.

For your reference, last year I had about 120 replies marked as “Answer”, the resolution rate is about 40%.

Conclusion of Microsoft MVP

If you consider Microsoft MVP as a achievement, you can definitely work towards that but it would be a pain. Some people are born to love helping people, Microsoft MVP award is just a bonus to them. To me, I just want to write down everything I know in the blog so that I can search things easier. Answering forum is just another way for me to explore things I have yet learned.

No matter what your intention is, I hope this article answers everything you would ask.

Wyman W
Wyman is a Human Resources professional based in Hong Kong, specialized in business analysis, project management, data transformation with Access and Excel.

He is also a:
- Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (Excel)
- Microsoft Community Contributor
- Microsoft Office Specialist in Access / Excel
- Microsoft Specialist in MS Project
- Microsoft Technical Associate
- Microsoft Certified Professional
- IBM SPSS Specialist

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