By Magnus Mårtensson, @noopman, Windows Azure MVP
Is it your first time as a Most Valuable Professional to attend the Microsoft MVP Summit? I am so jealous because you’re in for such a treat! I wish it was my first time again. #nostalgia The best quote I've heard from spending a few Summits at Microsoft comes from an evening event at a pub where the great Clemens Vasters (Windows Azure Service Bus Program Manager) commented to a colleague on how all of us MVPs sitting around the table were, “A few thousand of our closest friends.” That’s such a nice comment and it perfectly frames how I feel about the MVP Summit and how Microsoft receives us when we come to visit. Microsoft knows us and we know Microsoft. It’s like two good old friends who really enjoy each other’s company meeting up and enjoying a few days together.
Summit is a well-oiled machine with great transportation, receptions, meals and sessions. Just follow the flow and let the organizers and MVP old-timers lead the way. The sessions of course are the official reason we are in Redmond and you will get the latest and the greatest inside scoop on the technologies in your expertise. Personally, the Windows Azure group is my crowd. The content we get at Summit is always very good, organized by our community lead Mark Brown. All of the Program Managers and Marketers come to our session room and deliver NDA news about what’s coming next in the Windows Azure platform. Yeah, that’s right, Non-Disclosure Agreement information is flowing your way! MVPs are literally the only ones outside of Microsoft who get this information and this hospitable treatment. We try to cram as much as we can during session hours into our brains. It is hard work, I tell you, to take in so much great content in such a short time. Do take time to get to know the teams at Microsoft better and become friends with the folks who build your products! For the rest of the year you will be interacting with these connections in your work. Also the people working on the teams want our feedback on the directions of the products and features currently being built. As a consultant I have used these connections almost daily in what I do. My customers know that if they hire me they have a good line into Microsoft and can get the help they need directly from the source. We MVPs are connected to the source all year round but at Summit that connection becomes physical for a week. That’s the opportunity to build valuable professional connections and friendships. Usually on one of the Summit days the schedule is a bit more open and you can cross over between expertise groups and listen to more general sessions on other topics than what you are focused on. Sessions and content will blow your mind as a first time Summiteer.
Then there is the networking. I can’t even begin to describe this. But I will give it a try! The MVP Summit is packed full with super smart and great tech-colleagues and friends. In the evenings there is usually more than one event to choose from in Bellevue. You have a meal and a drink or two or three. What happens in the Bellevue night stays under NDA too! Network, network, network! Hang out and chat, strike up a conversation in the halls during the day and in the bars at night. First question is always “What’s your expertise?” All of us experts come together and we really thrive on learning and sharing. We MVPs put the ‘care’ into ‘sharing is caring’. Summit is a huge honey pot of knowledge and experience - a continuous fire-hose-draught of learning if you wish! Accompanied by an actual draught. You will, quite exhausted every evening, crawl into bed and with a happy grin on your face, drift away into a few hours of sleep. Until the next day when you jump up and do it all over again!
After a week of this your brain will be pretty well fried. You will journey back home content and immediately begin dreaming about the next Summit. Enjoy your first MVP Summit! I wish you will have many more in the future you fortunate first time Most Valuable Professional. See you in Seattle!
About the author
Magnus is a Development and Architecture Consultant and focuses on BIG server solutions and server side architecture. In his work as a consultant he aids ISVs and other customers to take off and be successful in the Cloud as well as assists with project effectiveness and development process streamlining. Magnus is also a passionate international speaker and trainer and the next gig he would love to book is Yours! He also creates conferences and/or assists to create agendas for conference tracks. Naturally Magnus is involved in the local development comunities http://swenug.se and http://azureug.se Get in touch with Magnus at firstname.lastname@example.org or find him at: http://magnusmartensson.com/ http://twitter.com/noopman https://www.facebook.com/noopman
This will be my 7th summit and I agree with everything Magnus has said. For first timers, don't be shy. There will be many people in the same position as you.
Some of the people I met at the first summit have become lifelong friends and the Summit has become much like a reunion. I look forward to it each year.