After seven years as an MVP, I’m still starry-eyed because I’m privileged to be part of the program. Thank you Microsoft for having me to the MVP party, and for providing me with this great award. I’ll continue to strive to be worthy of your trust and acknowledgement.
If you’re attending MVP Summit for the first or even the nth time, then there are a few golden rules that might help you to make the most of MVP Summit. Here’s my golden rules. Feel free to add some more in the comments.
Note that this isn’t an official, Microsoft endorsed list. It’s just my thoughts.
- Keep the NDA and adhere to the any Microsoft Code of Conduct that’s in place. Essentially, I boil this down to the following ethic: be decent.
- Be nice to Microsoft team members. This is huge for me. I know you’re excited to be an MVP but that doesn’t mean you have the right to give grief to any Microsoft team members. Be polite and respectful when you ask questions and provide feedback. Leave the ego at the front door; it’s not required. We all want to give Microsoft solutions even more sparkle because we can see the difference that they make to people’s lives every day, and we can help bring that colour to conversations. Microsoft Program Managers have most likely heard your feedback already, from the thousands and thousands of customers who provide feedback. You’re probably not providing ‘news’ but rather confirming something they’ve heard before. So please make sure to thank your Microsoft community leads, all of the Product Groups, and all of the Microsoft staff who have taken time to present, answer your questions, take your feedback, and generally participate. I mean, everyone. Right down to the people you may not ‘see’, for example, the Microsoft team member who serves your coffee in the morning or takes away your cups. That person got up early, travelled to work, to stand and make your coffee all day. Thank them. Ask them how they ‘re doing. They are part of the event too.
- Be nice to the people who look after the shuttles and take you safely back to your hotels. These people stand outside for hours of the day in the Seattle rain, making sure that you get to where you need to be. If your shuttle is a bit delayed, it’s not the end of the world. It will arrive, and you’ll be on your way. But that person doesn’t need grief from you, or the next ‘you’ who comes after you. They’re doing their job and an appreciative ‘Thank You’ costs you nothing.
- Go to many events and make friends. Personally, I don’t like crowds but I make a real effort here. I usually find a ‘friendly face. Which brings me to my next point.
- Be a ‘friendly face’ for someone. Be that person that reaches out. Be the person that you’d have liked to have met, on your first visit to MVP Summit.
- Be gentle when others ask questions. Not everyone has English as a first language, and the diversity aspect is one of the main drivers for my attendance. People may go to a talk that is way out of their normal environment, but they deserve the same chance to learn.
- Be constructive in conversations. Microsoft folks work superlatively hard and you can be part of the customer voice if you’re providing feedback. It’s an incredible privilege.
- Remember that your individual scenario may not extrapolate to the whole population. That feature you really really want? There are probably other people who really really want another feature. That shouldn’t stop you from asking for a great product feature, but it’s important to acknowledge that they have the ‘long view’ and they make the decisions and they have visibility of things that you don’t see.
- Offer to help Microsoft folks. If a team member can’t or won’t answer your question, remember it is a gift that we are even there in the first place. Just offer to help.
- Diversity is important. It’s a diverse program and I hope you’ll make the most of the opportunity to make friends from all over the globe, with different perspectives and cultures..
I’ll be attending so I wanted to add one more thing:
Yes, this. If you need it, I’m there for you. #IllGoWithYou. My Twitter handle is jenstirrup if you want to get in touch.
We are part of a privileged group, but it’s important to recognise that it is a gift from Microsoft. I look forward to seeing you there.
Enjoy yourself! In the words of Bill and Ted, Be Excellent to each other. And yourself.