The acronym "MVP" is typically used in the sports world and thus might seem out of place here in the geek world. However, in the latter case, it stands for Most Valuable Professional (as opposed to Player), and it's actually a fitting term for those that receive it.
Every year Microsoft grants MVP status to people who are exceptional technical community leaders. Why? According to the MVP site, it's because they voluntarily share their "real-world expertise in offline and online technical communities."
At first I thought it was just a neat, new acronym Microsoft gave you to add after your name. But more recently I have not only seen the true depth of the MVPs in the world at large, but also the tremendous value of their community spirit. MVPs can save your company money -- lots of it, in some cases.
Recently I was e-mailing a buddy of mine, Bharat Suneja, who works on the Exchange Team over at Microsoft. He was an MVP for Exchange but had to give up the title when he went to work in Redmond. I asked him what I would need to do to qualify to be an MVP. Now, personally, I've written articles on Exchange, spoken at conferences, and even authored a book due to be released next month all about Exchange 2007. In my mind, I'm thinking, "Surely I'm qualified."
But Bharat explained that all of the things I'm doing are for personal gain. The core spirit of the MVP program is that of sharing freely, giving back to the community, and helping others without gain. He asked how I was doing in that department and I bowed my head in shame.
Bharat was right, though. MVPs are all about helping others in so many different ways. So I started checking out some of the MVP Web sites that exist. These sites are not paid for by Microsoft; rather, a tech expert set up the site and posted content for no other motive than helping others. And you would not believe how many of these sites exist and how much helpful content can be found as a result. Note: To locate an MVP site, you can do a Google search or simply go to the MVPS.org site and locate the sites based on the technology you are seeking.
No doubt when your network admin has a problem that he or she cannot figure out or when he or she wants to learn about an obscure product subject, said admin can go one of three places: Microsoft TechNet, the Microsoft Team Blog site for whatever technology is being researched, or an MVP site on that subject. All off free, expert information to assist your admin. That saves your company money and enhances the skill set of your admins.