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The Power of Communities

I’ve been wanting to write this blog post for some time now and I finally got the chance to do it. It’s gonna be smaller than it was supposed to be so allow me to start with this and I will continue with some other posts moving forward.

I’d like to tell you a little bit about my experience in working with the “Influencers” and give you some tips on how you can leverage the same ideas.

I’ve been working with them for several years now, meeting them online through various social media channels (Twitter mostly, but also Facebook and LinkedIn) and offline during events and meetups and I gotta say it completely changed my vision of the business as a whole. Call them contributors, speakers, online gurus, experts, those people not only changed the way marketing efforts are conducted, but they also positively changed my life. There is one common denominator for all these people: PASSION. And I do believe that, without passion, it’s hard to achieve amazing things, in every job and every role you cover. The Passion you feel by mingling with them and talking with them, you can feel it, it energizes you and makes you feel you are part of a bigger whole. It all comes down with amazing people doing their best to be part of this “bigger whole”. Because they believe in it, because they are curious and hungry for learning, because they love to share their expertise and experiences with others, because they care. Yes, that’s right, they care, they don’t do it because they have to……

If you’re still interested, read more here..

Big change, No changes…

Well, this is something I was never expecting to write on my blog. Something huge, at least for me, something that marks a personal milestone in my life.

I’ve been working for the MVP Award Program for several years: first, as a Community Program Manager (aka MVP Lead) for Italy, then, little by little, my manager gave me this great opportunity to take also care of the MVP Program in Central and Eastern Europe. That was a big change too, not only because of the increased number of MVPs I was about to represent, but also managing the business in 21 Countries meaning talking to the local stakeholders and making sure the MVP Program was getting enough visibility and awareness for the sake of both parties.

During this journey I met Amazing People, from so many different Countries and with different cultures and backgrounds I only dreamed of. Amazing and talented people from half of the Continent, I had the pleasure to attend so many different events and social gatherings, I had the opportunity to visit places that were only in my dreams. And all of this, I still have vividly on my mind.

Now is the time for a change. Big change. Huge change, as I said, at least for me. Well, to be honest I am not going anywhere (if someone is worrying about me leaving the Company I love :)). Even more, I’m not leaving the MVP Award Program, the Program I helped to build and that I never, for a moment, doubted its existence and its power and strength in the online and offline Communities.

road

So what’s the big deal then? I’m thrilled and honored to announce that I’ve been appointed Regional Manager for EMEA. WOW !! I still can’t believe that. The amazing thing is that the Team I love, the Program I love, the Communities I started to love years ago, will still part of my life :).

I’ll be driving the Program in the whole Region, going to talk to a lot of different colleagues (internal awareness, as in all the Companies, it’s an important part of any Program) as a sort of “MVP Evangelist” as well as externally to the broad audience.

I’ll be responsible for the “EMEA Dream Team”, Talented People who, on a daily basis, take care of the MVP Award Program in different areas of the Region, driving the business in the Countries they represent and making sure other parties engage the MVPs in various activities.

This wouldn’t have happened without the learning process I’ve been involved in: great Managers, a great Executive Team, great people around me from which I learned a lot and to whom I’m really grateful. And it’s not just a bunch of people, I think the learning curve went up in the last 2 years also because of the many people I had the pleasure to interact with. Whether it was during an event, on Twitter, on Facebook, by e-mail, through Lync meetings and in-person discussions and roundtable. Wow, if I think about that I really can’t count the number of online and offline interactions I had during the last few years !

Having said that, I’ll be soon announcing, by email this time, the changes that will happen in the Region. Specifically for CEE & Italy MVPs, don’t worry about a thing, you’ll be in good hands! But right now I just wanted to drop down a few lines, making sure you’d see me happily jumping in the office, from one meeting room to another (you got the picture right? :))

Thank YOU so much for trusting me, I’m intending to return the favor by doing my best and make the Program, with the help of the EMEA Team, even better in the whole Region !

Microsoft MVP Award – April 2013

We had a lot of exciting activities, events and engagements during the last few months.

And time really passes by when you enjoy yourself doing these kind of things.

Other than the local events (which are lot, considering Microsoft events and User Groups/Community events), we had the MVP Global Summit 2013 in Seattle, WA which was a stunning experience! MVPs had the opportunity to interact not only among themselves (which I think brings a lot of adding value in terms of networking and mingling) but also with the Product Teams, the Teams who actually build and develop Microsoft Products. And that is only the tip of the iceberg, only one of the things you can get from the event itself …

Also, we recently had a refresh of the MVP Award Website, which, IMHO, is the best we ever had. A brand new website with tons of features and content (I love it !)

But, back to the topic:

mvp_horizontal_fullcolor

Congratulations to the newly Awarded Microsoft MVPs (sorted by name), living in Central, Eastern Europe (excluding Russia and CIS Countries) and Italy:

Influencer Technical Expertise Country
Alexandru Dionisie Office365 Romania
Bruno Kovačić Windows Azure Croatia
Danijel Malik Visual Studio ALM Slovenia
Dávid Fülöp Visual C# Hungary
Fabio Franzini SharePoint Server Italy
István Király Setup & Deployment Hungary
Luchian Grigore Visual C++ Romania
Marek Chmel SQL Server Czech Republic
Pataridis Panagiotis Remote Desktop Services Greece
Patrick Lamber SharePoint Server Italy
Toni Petrina Visual C# Croatia

A BIG CONGRATS to the Microsoft MVPs who have been renewed this Award cycle: the list is long so I apologize in advance if I don’t post the whole list but I still want to congratulate them for their community involvement. Being renewed is as tough as being awarded for the first time and being involved in the online and offline community environments is a challenge.

And for the ones who didn’t make it, don’t lose hope: I’m sure if you put a little extra effort you’ll be able to get the Award again.

BTW, If you want to know more about the MVP Award Program, subscribe to our blog and check our Facebook Page to know more about it…

Enjoy your Award, hoping this would also be a nice Easter Holiday gift :)

@alead

Microsoft MVP Award – January 2013 !

After Christmas, holidays (for the lucky ones who had them) and the New Year, I really hope you enjoyed them as mush I did.

This post is something a lot of people are waiting for: this is about the new Microsoft MVP Awardees @ the 1st of January.

As you may know, the Microsoft MVP Program is an Award given to exceptional people who voluntarily shared their knowledge on Microsoft products. Whether it’s an online forum or a technical speech, the Microsoft MVPs are independent people who gained the trust of their peers by facts. It’s about communities, it’s about sharing the personal/professional experience they acquired on the field. It’s about giving feedback, providing guidance to their online and offline peers. It’s about sharing.

And every 3 months, we evaluate old and new potential and current MVPs to get the best and brightest and I hope we’re doing a good job !

mvp_horizontal_fullcolor

Finding the right people is the #1 goal and, as said, sometimes it’s not easy. But I can tell you I’m helped by a lot of people in this process. So now please join me in Congratulating the following awarded people as Microsoft MVPs (sorted by name), living in Central, Eastern Europe (excluding Russia and CIS Countries) and Italy:

Influencer Technical Expertise Country/Region
Bill  Stavroulakis ASP.NET/IIS Greece
Boriana  Petrova Excel Bulgaria
Darko  Jovišić Dynamics CRM Croatia
Grzegorz  Gałęzowski PowerShell Poland
Jovan  Popovic ASP.NET/IIS Serbia
Robert  Voncina SharePoint Server Slovenia
Vlatko  Ivanovski Visual Studio ALM Macedonia F.Y.R.O

A BIG CONGRATS to the Microsoft MVPs who have been renewed this Award cycle: the list is long so I apologize in advance if I don’t post the whole list but I still want to congratulate them for their community involvement. Being renewed is as tough as being awarded for the first time and being involved in the online and offline community environments is a challenge. Think about it: do you have time to dedicate to the others? Do you have time to travel to another City or Country to make a speech or participate as an Ask The Expert during a Microsoft and/or a Community event? Do you have time to write articles and technical blog posts? Yes, the list is long and I can go on and on… But the driver is not the MVP Award, the driver is the Passion these people have, Passion to organize User Group events in their spare time, Passion to support users in troubleshooting their technical problems, Passion to write about the products they love more, Passion to share their experience on the field so others can benefit from that. Easy, eh? :)

And for the ones who didn’t make it, don’t lose hope: I’m sure if you put a little extra effort you’ll be able to get the Award !

BTW, If you want to know more about the MVP Award Program, do subscribe our blog as you’ll find some interesting stories to read…

Enjoy your Award and Congratulations again !!

@alead

Get Engaged !

This morning (very early I’d say) I was listening to one of my favorite social media book which is “Unmarketing” by Scott Stratten.

Well, not exactly reading per se, I was listening to it while driving. I think the audible.com books is a great way to listen to your books while doing something else, thus optimizing your time.

There are a lot of concepts that I like most about the book but I don’t want to do a book review but instead I want to grab some of these concepts and put them into action.

If you read some social media books, you’ll realize many things discussed are very similar: there are definitions, strategies, tips, most of the things are similar. At least the deliverables are very similar.

In my case, I’m more interested in Personal Branding. I think it’s one of the most important activity you can do to increase your reputation, impact and influence across all the major social media. And be aware, your reputation will easily go from the online space to the offline. The point is: how do I use the social media tools to make this happen?

I already mentioned this in my previous post: it’s not about to be or not to be, it’s about the HOW.

Having said that one of the most important, the key, to start increasing your Brand Reputation is to “get engaged”.

get engaged

Let me do a step back though.

You want to get engaged because? Because maybe you’re passionate about something. Or maybe you like help people learn what you know. Or maybe you want to learn from them and then re-define your actions, whether these are online of offline, based on what you learnt. But, in the end, it’s about getting engaged. It’s the first rule of being part of this “Social Media Revolution”, the same revolution that allowed us to move from the Web 1.0 to the Web 2.0.

So getting engaged is the first part. Then you need to define your HOW.

How do I want to do it? Do you I have a plan for that? Maybe not, not now, not at the beginning of your journey. I think, first of all, you need to understand YOU as a Brand. How do you position yourself as a Brand? How do others perceive you? What’s my reputation among my peers/followers/readers/friends/colleagues etc. ?

When you realize that, you start acting. One exercise I would suggest you would be to go back to your older tweets and blog posts and facebook posts and LinkedIn posts and see what you said. Remember: in the Social Media environment, YOU are the CONTENT You provide. So you realize is, say, 40% IT related stuff, 30% retweets, 20% Pictures (which pictures? What about them?) and 10% funny videos%.

When you do this exercise you might probably want to fine tuning the content you are providing in order to increase your Brand in the, say, IT Environment.

That is what I call “look-back”.

The second, and very important part of it (we already talked about it) is to start engaging with your audience.

Whether you are a sales accountant, a novelist, a professional snowboarder, a marketing manager, an event planner, you HAVE TO get engaged in order to build your Personal Brand.

In the following posts we will dig into it: let’s just call this a Level 100 starter kit :)

Make a good use of Social Media

A lot has been said about Social Media, Web 2.0 and all the other keywords you can think of. A lot of people, as we said, are in there, participating. And a lot of people are talking about it. But still, there’s a lot more to say about it. There is a huge potential for us in the IT Industry (and not only) to strengthen our presence in the social media environment.

Why I need to care about that? Well, first of all because everyone is in there (remember that statement “Everyone is on Facebook”?). So it’s like being in the middle of a professional and personal gathering and hiding yourself. Or, it’s like being there, chit chatting and that’s it.

Is that a good use of your time? Are you getting the most out of that “social gathering” or are you just participating?

Participating is the first step to gain credibility. But it’s the first one. What drives you, your credibility and, in the end, your reputation, is your Content, the Content you provide.

Remember that Magazine Cover, 2007?

You

It’s all about People and, most of all, it’s all about the content your provide.

Sharing is something I learnt from the Microsoft MVPs: it’s the basics to become an MVP. Of course it’s not enough but it’s the Passion inside yourself that makes you share content because you want to, because you know you’ll get something back (feedback, comments, reputation, etc), because you know you’ll learn as long as you actively participate.

Now, imagine millions and millions of people talking, sharing, commenting, liking, tweeting, posting etcetera.

crowd

Are you following the right content in order to learn, to increase your knowledge? Are you tagging the content properly? Ask yourself these basic questions, check the tools you are using to “index” somehow this huge flow of information. This is the first step to make a good use of Social Media. But there’s more..

WPC 2012: my personal summary (and slides)

I recently had the chance to participate to the latest WPC 2012 (local Windows Professional Conference) in Milano, Italy.

It was a terrific event: 27 Microsoft MVPs as speakers, an Ask The Expert Booth with +12 MVPs (+ a lot of friends and other Influencers) covering different technologies, together with the Microsoft Technical Support. Hundreds of technical sessions, giving full coverage of almost all the Microsoft Products and Technologies.

It was a great success in terms of Reach, Awareness and Support. Reach: almost 400 attendees, from ITPros to Developers to Consumers. More than 300 tweets around the Conference (#wpcit12).

In terms of awareness, the Microsoft MVP Award was highly valued during the conference: some minutes spent during the Keynote talking about it, the #Branding was everywhere, and MVPs often were wearing t-shirts with the MVP Logo on it. Recognition was another big part of it.

Just FYI, during the ATE the MVPs had around 250 technical discussions with the attendees. Divided per technology each day, attendees had the chance to interact not only with the speakers @ the Booth, but also with the other MVPs who voluntarily agreed to be part of the Conference supporting the attendees.

DSC_0238 DSC_0585

So now you know the MVP Award was a big part of it. But what about the rest of it?

Well, I also delivered a session on #SocialMedia called “Social Media in the IT World” and I have to say it was really interesting for the attendees. It was Different, not the kind of presentation you normally expect during a technical event. It was Relevant, according to the numbers of feedback and questions I gathered after my session. And for me it was fun too!

Understanding that many people still don’t understand the Power of the Social Media, the World of Mouth, the “Unmarketing” concept, Crowdsourcing, Personal #Branding and many others was kind of unexpected. So that is probably why my session was really valuable for the attendees.

I share my slides here, in a pure community spirit (as the MVPs taught me :)), hoping that someone else will benefit from that:

I did not have the chance to show how I use my Windows Phone to “unleash” the Power of the Communities, but I’m sure I’ll have time to do that in my next talk.

And, by the way, we also had the chance to have some fun (in a pure community spirit :)):

DSC_0495 DSC_0574

I need to thank a lot of people for a very successful event:

First and foremost, Barbara Palumbo, the “Puppet Master”, for his energy, proactive approach, driving the #wpcit12 team to Excellence. Claudio Salano, “The Boss” for having me @ the Conference. Nino Crudele, “Grinch” and #BizTalk Expert, for his tremendous valuable tips & tricks. And all others, all the MVPs, the Influencers, all the People I had the pleasure to meet for the first time, etc.

THANK YOU everyone for this wonderful experience !