At Microsoft’s SharePoint Conference in November, a list of the top 25 influencers in SharePoint was released, sparking, of course, much discussion about the merits of such a list, and the credentials of those named to it. To influence someone is to have them change their thinking because of something you’ve said or written. Now, some in the community have argued that just because someone tweets a lot, or posts quick workaround tips, or travels to SharePoint Saturdays to teach a session, that does not necessarily make them influential. Nor, I will add here, does it preclude that.

Part of my role as chairman of SPTechCon is not only to choose topics that I believe will be most instructive to those who attend our conference, but also to choose speakers who I believe can present the information in a way that will stick with you, who can make you rethink your notions of what SharePoint can be, and who are available and eager to help you through your particular problem.

Six of the top eight influencers on the list will be presenting sessions at SPTechCon. These professionals, through their blogs and community work, have earned the title. Now, we’re putting the finishing touches on the program for our ninth SPTechCon (can you believe we’ve done NINE of these already??). In that time, we’ve had more than 140 different speakers lead technical sessions, and only those that have proven themselves in the forge of attendee feedback remain with us. These are the best speakers in the SharePoint space today. Many of them are Microsoft MVPs or certified masters—designations bestowed by Microsoft on those who show great expertise in the software, and in communicating that knowledge to others. Some have created software to extend SharePoint or make a particular function easier to do. Many have written books offering insights into the workings of SharePoint. Still others, through their expertise in a particular area (business intelligence, jQuery, managed metadata, and so much more), regularly get our conference attendees to go, “Hmmmm. I hadn’t thought of that.”

Of course, we also like to bring in new speakers, with different perspectives and experiences, to keep the event fresh. They are usually recommended by people we respect in the field, and then are further vetted by us before they are accepted to speak, and we trust they will be up to the standard we’ve set for SPTechCon.

We must be doing something right, because the feedback we get from attendees, speakers and software providers alike routinely sing our praises (if I say so myself). If you haven’t been to an SPTechCon before, the program we’ve put together for our March conference in San Francisco might be the best one yet. I hope to see you there.