So yeah, I totally went for a spammy title for this blog post 😊 Know why? Spam is deceiving, kind of like thinking there is an easy way into vExpert 😉 So what’s the point of this post? For one, I am a vExpert Pro, and part of my duty is to assist folks where and when I can, with regards to getting into the vExpert program. With that in mind, I wanted to write something up to assist folks with their vExpert applications. Below is some food for thought – it is not meant to be an “if you do this, you’ll be in” type of list, but rather “if you are serious about this, pay attention to these points”. This post was more or less spawned by this tweet:
A bit of advice: with the last round the @vExpertPRO group was able to help out with the approval process. A great application goes far; fill it out with the mindset that the reviewer will need to find a reason NOT to approve you – be as detailed as you can & show your passion https://t.co/simBPqp0O8— Matt Crape (@MattThatITGuy) June 8, 2019
tl;dr – if you are looking to save 5 minutes and skip the read ahead, then these programs may not be for you.
When someone tells me that they want to be a vExpert, I’ll usually respond with two questions: “Why?” and “What have your contributions to date been?”. The answer I usually receive to the second question is along the lines of “nothing yet, but I plan to do XYZ”. Well, it is important to understand that when looking at applications, especially for new folks, we aren’t grading them based on someone’s intent. Rather, we look at what has been done and documented (more on this later). Frankly, buying a domain and installing WordPress or setting up a YouTube channel is easy; creating and posting content doesn’t have to be that much harder, but that is where the extra effort shows.
FIND A VEXPERT (PRO)
Part of the reason for the vExpert Pro program is to give folks a list of people who have publicly said: “Yes, I’ll help you out”. But with that being said, you’ll also find that the vExpert community is generally very inviting to new folks. Some of the best advice that I have received for my career was to hang around folks that I want to be like. You’ll find that you elevate yourself to their level, and you’ll learn things from just being around them.
This also applies to getting into new programs. Find folks who are already in those programs and befriend them. See what they do, how they act, how they contribute, and take note. Those are generally the qualities that are required to earn these community recognitions.
HAVE A KILLER APPLICATION
With this past round of vExpert applications, the Pros were tapped to help comb through submissions. This really opened a lot of our eyes with regards to the amount of work that goes into vetting someone. Application quality was all over the place. Sometimes folks would just put their name and maybe some other info, such as a Twitter handle or LinkedIn page. Then we would need to go through that and try to find relevant info. I know personally I would spend at least 15 – 20 minutes on applications such as these to see if I could drum up any more information – typically I couldn’t though, so that would be a hard deny.
On the flip side, the stellar applications make it easy to approve. These are the ones that list things out nice and clearly; details such as VMUG presentations with information such as location, date, title, audience size, and bonus points if you include a link to the agenda. Have a podcast or a YouTube channel, or maybe you have been a guest on these? Include a link with a clear description.
Ariel Sanchez Mora gave me a piece of advice years ago, which was to log these things out as you are doing them throughout the year. This makes applications much easier – you can copy and paste your list, as opposed to having to try to remember the details at year end.
The end goal is to make an application so great and full of detail that the reviewer is in a position where they would have to justify denying you.
Lastly, don’t lie and don’t exaggerate. Did you present at a VMUG but only had 10 folks in attendance? Don’t exaggerate and say 50. Personally, if I see that and then I see additional presentations after that, I take it as a sign that this person is committed to the vCommunity. This isn’t a competition, but rather it is about helping others, so frequency is an important consideration.
Similarly, if presenting is part of your job (i.e. you work for a vendor/sponsor), note that. We had a lot of trouble distinguishing what was someone’s job vs. them doing it on their own, or possibly in addition to their job. Say, for example, I am in sales, but I volunteer to do the VMUG presentation – note that. It conveys that yes, this is my job, but I chose to do this and engage with these folks. Similarly, if you are a vendor/sponsor and you do things like organize vBeers or similar, note that as well. Just be sure to be upfront about it and provide a bit of detail with regards to what value it brought the vCommunity and not just your organization.
WRAPPING THINGS UP
Every application tends to be very subjective – it is evaluated as a whole, and not just individual parts. Just because you presented at one VMUG doesn’t mean that you’ll be automatically be awarded a vExpert title. But, when you start adding in other parts (helping out on the VMTN forums, presenting with vBrownBag, etc.), it helps create an image of who you are as a person, which is a large part of what these vCommunity programs are about. And with that, my final piece of advice would be, if you don’t genuinely like helping people out, and you are only after a title, then these programs may not be for you.
vExpert applications are currently open until July 31st. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to myself or any other vExpert Pro.