NDA Reminder Every year Microsoft hosts an event they refer to as the MVP Global Summit in the Seattle area.  This event is invitation only event where those who have been recognized as Microsoft MVPs get to meet with their product groups, discuss strategy, impart real-world scenarios, and learn what is coming down the pipe.  The event is simply wonderful, where else can you get a chance to interact with the people directly responsible for parts of the Microsoft eco-system you care about most deeply.  Of course, such openness does not come without restriction.  The MVPs are all under a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) which means that for 90%+ of what we are told, we cannot discuss it with other people.

You can’t discuss it?  Why go then?!

A fair question, with at least four answers. So let’s go through them.

First – I can’t discuss things, but I still know them.

When thinking about the trip to the Summit you must remember that you’re learning things far before the public will, but that does not mean that the public will never learn these things.  Much of what is discussed will eventually become public information, and once it is those who have been to the Summit will have had the most time to internalize and strategize on the information, often meaning they will be able to act on that information more quickly.  Also just because I can’t share my knowledge does not mean I can’t share my judgment.  I can use the information I have received to inform the choices I make for my own personal work and what I do for my clients.

Second – Meet the Team

Every Summit is a chance to meet new people within Microsoft who are working on your area of expertise and interest, to put a face with a name, and to collect business cards or email aliases.  This can be wonderful later on if you want to provide feedback or ask a short question during the 99% of the year that isn’t the MVP Summit.

Third – Bond with your Local MVPs

When you travel to the MVP Summit you get a chance to spend time strengthening your relationships with the MVPs in your area.  Your local MVPs are the backbone of your community, and getting to know them better will help you help your community better.  You’ve got time during the Summit to discuss plans for future events, eat, drink and be merry.

Fourth – Meet MVPs from around the world…

This may seem like a repeat of the entry above, but meeting MVPs from outside your local area has a different purpose.  Your making connections that open up an exchange of ideas.  You’re putting names with faces from Twitter, Facebook, StackOverflow and other sites.  You never know when a passing conversation about your interest with some technology might not result in you being able to help a company half way around the world make a wiser technical decision.  Absolutely key.  Again, eat, drink and be merry.

Conclusion

Rather obviously a lot of what the MVP Summit is about is networking, but you’re and MVP right?  You network, help people, organize meetings, answer questions, in general you are a community leader, and influencer.  And so are ALL of those other MVPs.  Even if every MVP touched merely as many people as a small user group, say 50/month people, then the 1400 MVPs who just left the Summit in 2010 represent 840,000 developer touches.  And those numbers are low.  From blog posts, to conferences, and more an MVP has huge reach … which is why we were invited to begin with.

Thank you to Microsoft, the Product Groups, the Developer Evangelists, and the incredible MVP Leads for making this Summit a smashing success!