So now you’re a vExpert?

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aToday you’ll see plenty of blogposts about the vExpert 2015 nominations. I am proud to say I’ve got a hat-trick now, being recognized as one for the 3rd year in a row. Instead of just dancing around with the certificate in your/my hand, I urge you to now be grateful with that piece of paper and go do something with it! Go earn another one. But as you already know how to do that, here’s my message to your employer!

You are a Startup

I think if you are a startup in the VMware realm, you should have at least a minimum of 3 vExperts. If you don’t have 3 people in your company that passionate about being in this VMware community that it shows, I have my doubts about how passionate you are as a company to be here.

Now group those vExperts, let them organise webinars, whitepapers and demos as a team. But above all: let them be ambassadors of your company! You have no idea how valuable their presence in this community is until you start listening. Wanna do influencer marketing? Here’s your way in!

EXTRA: why don’t you try and get at least one of them to go for VCDX? This is where your white-papers get extra credit. This is where your VMUG presentation gets its wow-factor. But if you do so: don’t leave the weight on his/her shoulder. Give them everything they need to succeed!

You are a reseller

Most of the vExperts are consultants in the field (if not working at a vendor). Whether they are self-employed or working for a reseller, the company benefits in sales because of their presence in this community. Personal network right into the heart of VMware, weekly podcasts with subject experts, VMUGs all over the world and close to home, VMUG advantage, NFR licensing, pre-release briefings, sometimes even under NDA, early-access beta-software, … All of this together gives you a huge advantage over your competitors than don’t have vExperts.

Now go recognize that effort. Do you even know how much time in the evenings your employee has spent to be part of this community? ‘Cause it sure wasn’t while they were busting their asses off for that customer of yours. Incentivise that personal time and see what more they can do for you now. Now go send your vExperts to the VMUGs and VMworld, and don’t you dare taking it from their training budget, this is marketing budget! If your are lucky, they’ll be on stage next time, telling about the awesome projects they get to do for your company. How about that for exposure!

You are a customer

I have the utmost respect for vExperts that work at a customer. They have no commercial benefit of being active in the community. They are here for the sake of caring for the infrastructure they feel themselves responsible for.

If you are a customer and you have vExperts on your team, you should give them a bonus! But even more so: you make sure your vExpert gets to go to every single VMUG they can. And you know why? You’ll get the best infrastructure you could possibly think of! You’ll know that this man/woman has first access when things goes South.

If you don’t … vExperts tend to find their next step up the ladder quite soon. It’s just a matter of when.
All of the above of course also counts for Cisco Champions, EMC Elects, Dell Rockstars, Microsoft MVPs, …

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26 comments

    1. YES! It means they have no clue but it also means you are way too humble about it and don’t give them the ability to recognize you for your efforts.

  1. I contribute to the community because I enjoy it, not for the rewards, hence I’ve never made a big deal of my social media involvement with my employers. I also believe it’s largely not their concern. That was certainly true for the last five years where I was a customer but in my opinion it’s still largely true now I’m working at a service provider (though I’ll concede they’re more aware of it than my previous company). I’m not employed in marketing nor is it part of my job description. I do consider it a fringe benefit for them, but not one to shout about – it’s simply another aspect of doing my job well. For startups and vendors who need exposure I agree with your post, although with the swelling number of vExperts I expect the kudos to be increasingly diluted. Awards and recognition aside I’m still a big fan of ‘da community’ and will do my best to stay an active part of it. 🙂

    1. This post was not about you/us – it’s about the employers. I feel by having vExperts in the team there are benefits towards the company that are not exposed if it is ignored.

      1. Agreed, though I was just pointing out that, for customers at least, the benefits of the vExpert award will vary for each company. Rewards and motivation are subjects well understood and recognition of a job well done is a fundamental aspect of good management – on that we’re agreed.

        Does having a vExpert award mean you’ve achieved more for your company? Not necessarily, it’s a measure of contribution to the community. Will that engagement and sharing also have a beneficial impact? I’d argue yes, but the award also carries a degree of evangelism and partiality which could be unwelcome (see Lindsay Hill’s post on vendor clubs and independence). Like everything there are pros and cons and being aware of the wider perception is worthwhile.

        1. I know Lindsay’s post quite well (as I can be found in the comments). I still disagree with the negative impact. The negative impact is only there for the short-sighted and naive purists. But that’s for a totally different discussion 🙂

  2. Hans, what a great read! Your heart is in the right place. The pivot point that I would enjoy discussing with you further has to do with showing value to your employer. I can speak from experience that the burden of proof rests on you as the vExpert, not the business, to connect your status to their goals.

    This gets tricky, as you know. Part of the conclusion must come from faith/trust/instinct. The other part needs to give some noticeable ROI. That’s possible, just not easy at times and it takes a broader business awareness based on your org chart (Sales|Marketing|Engineering).

    1. I disagree! The ROI in appreciating extra-curricular efforts lies in the fact that the employee probably will stay longer ar your company. Try putting that in a metric. I have seen a lot of vExperts in the last couple of years that are underapreciated for their efforts. I’m just trying to show this doesn’t have to be like that.

      Remember The Geek Whisperers episode with Jason Nash? I think that is a spot-on reference to the value of recognizing community efforts (link: http://geek-whisperers.com/2014/03/the-passion-of-the-cto-episode-37/)

      1. Companies celebrate when their employees give back to their physical communities through canned food drives. Giving back to the technical community should be celebrated equally. The vExpert badge itself shows the company the value you provided.

      2. I do appreciate you quoting Geek Whisperers in response Hans, yet I have to continue: Jason Nash is a great example of a company that understands and appreciates the squishy value of Community engagement. What I’m saying is that his, your and my certainty alone does not prove its worth. We can use words like “should” when talking appreciation and “probably” when discussing value, but neither is compelling in the bigger picture. We must wrap our heads around the effect from this cause or remain subject to the preference of company leadership.

        1. Easy metric 1: ask all vExperts/MVPs/Rockstars/Champions/Elects/… that have changed jobs (on their behalf) and ask if they felt appreciated for their extra curricular efforts.

          Easy metric 2: ask all vExperts/MVPs/Rockstars/Champions/Elects/… that feel themselves appreciated for their extra curricular efforts if that effects their loyalty. Or even just happiness to be where they are at work.

          Wanna take a guess on the outcome?

          1. So, it depends on your situation how much you champion your vExpert status at your employer.

            Be sure to be straight with your manager and HR – and get it on the record what you are allowed to do on your own time.

            1. Did you just say “what you are allowed to do on your own time?”. I’m quite sure no employer has anything to say about my own time. I’m quite sure some employers don’t like what you do in your own time because they are afraid you’ll leave because you improved yourself. But hey, is that the employer you should be working for then?

                1. well, consultancy work is another beast than community work. I get why employers could get upset about that 😉

  3. Great post, last year I did let my employer know I was once again vExpert and I will continue to let them know. I work for a VMware customer so yes, we do this for love to the community, and I’m encouraging another co-worker to get into it, after all he also presents in our LATAM vBrownBag.

  4. Great Post! It takes lot of efforts to be active in Community and become vExpert! You talked about Startup, reseller & customer. What if vExpert is from VMware itself, it would be interesting to know from you.

    1. I don’t think I need to give VMware lessons in how they should treat their vExperts. I do think that whatever I said about startups, actually counts for all Technical Alliance Partners (vendors). I have also noticed really good vExperts being unnoticed at a Cisco/HP/…
      My comments toward startups do NOT count for stealth startups, they got other issues than having a couple of vExperts.

  5. I work for a customer who for the last couple of years have been bleeding edge in the VMware arena, they are aware of my #vExpert as well as a contractor colleagues award but aren’t aware of this years award because they are stepping back from VMware and heading more towards OpenStack and there was no point in high lighting my VMware skills as it’s likely they aren’t going to be viewed as a future requirement in the company.

    I am proud of my 4 year achievement of vExpert and will ensure that future employers do know of the time and effort I put in to it.

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