Want to know a superpower that you can get without being bitten by a radioactive spider, is available to you right now, and can help you whether you’re a beginner or an expert? The Salesforce community is a superpower for everyone. Whether you need the answer to a flow question, want to find your next job, or just want to nerd out about building and designing on the platform, you’ll find someone, somewhere, to connect with.
What really makes the Salesforce community special is that the culture incorporates paying it forward, generosity with time and wisdom, and always ensuring that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Let me tell a story of when I got started in Salesforce.
It was 2013 (which seems like a long time ago) and I was brand new to “this Salesforce thing.” I had started to play with a trial org because I thought Salesforce might be a good fit for the organization I was working for and I had some questions. Because I was working for a nonprofit, I found the Power of Us Hub, which was the Salesforce community specifically for nonprofits and educational organizations. I asked a few questions about how to customize things and got answers that were always respectful of my newbie status and helpful and affirming. People like Judi Sohn were happy to help me with basic setup UI questions and to confirm for me that I was on the right track as I built or modified fields, layouts, and formulas. I knew I was asking basic questions and I was delighted with this helpful online forum. It was not lost on me that this was a helpful and welcoming part of the Internet.
Then I started asking some more focused questions about the address-tracking functionality in the Nonprofit Success Pack (NPSP), which was a little hard to truly grasp. (Still is.) After some back-and-forth, eventually Beth Saunders asked if we should just jump on the phone to play around and try to figure things out. Beth was a stranger to me at the time but she was willing to take a chunk of time out of her day to just figure things out with me. That was my introduction to the Salesforce community and the beginning of a friendship and a turning point that would lead to a new career. But as generous as it was of Beth to offer to get on the phone, I have come to learn that what she did was not out of the ordinary for this community. Even consultants billing by the hour are happy to give time and attention to help out newcomers.
It’s just in the DNA of the Salesforce online community that we are welcoming and that we share our knowledge so that others may grow. We lift each other up. The culture is such that our first instinct is to be welcoming and so the circle is virtuous.
My second recommendation for new admins, therefore, is to get involved in the Salesforce community online. (First recommendation was Trailhead, last post.) If you’re reading this blog you probably have discovered the community. But I know that plenty of clients I work with, and admins, and users of Salesforce have not yet dipped their toes into the wider Salesforce community.
Log into the Trailblazer Community (it’s now a tab of Trailhead) and join a couple of groups. Find people that are discussing topics of interest to you. Ask questions when you have them, or lurk to just soak things up. The Nonprofit Hub is the new home of the Power of Us Hub. (There’s also an Education Hub.) And there are groups for job seekers, for marketers, by industry, etc. You can find a group to learn about Flow, groups by region, and more. Just join a bunch–you can always pare down the list later.
There is also a Salesforce community on Twitter and one or more on Slack, of course. As I understand it, all share the great culture of the Trailblazer Community.
That was the easy part because you can do it from your couch.
But did you know that the Salesforce community is so passionate about learning and networking that there are entire conferences focused on Salesforce that are organized by volunteers?
There are more and more Dreamin events every year. Some are larger, some are smaller, Some are one day, others two or more. These are a fantastic introduction to the community. First of all, you’ll get the opportunity to meet in person the people you’ve seen online. But it’s also a place to learn skills, network, and have fun. Conferences offer content for users and admins at all levels. I just got back from Midwest Dreamin, the OG of these community events and–I think–still the largest. What a great time! I learned so much about the Salesforce platform, reconnected with friends and colleagues, and met new friends and future colleagues.
I know that some of you are reading this and thinking, “I’m an introvert, conferences aren’t for me.” I would argue that you are wrong about that.
I am definitely an introvert. (I’m not shy, for sure, but I am drained by being with people. And a room full of strangers and "cocktail party conversation" makes me want to crawl out of my skin.) It energizes me, however, when I can get a chance to go deep into conversation learning or discussing something of mutual interest. Well guess what? A conference brings together dozens or hundreds of people that share an interest in common! And this is a conference of the Salesforce community, so our online community norms of welcome just transfer right over. You will find Your People even if you are an introvert. (And, I think, even if you are a little bit shy.)
Community conferences like Dreamins are not free, though they keep the cost low. And many offer discounts for nonprofit employees. Dreamins are an amazing value for the amount of learnin’ you get in a day or two. And because local conferences are less expensive than something huge like Dreamforce you got a good turnout of nonprofiteers to network with.
I actually did not get my start at Dreamin events, though. My introduction to Salesforce events came through a special creature called an Open Source Sprint. These are hosted by Salesforce.org and are focused directly on the nonprofit Salesforce sector. (And, in my opinion, they’re perfect events for introverts.) We come together for two days to work on projects together. (What better activity for introverts than to work together toward a common purpose?) If you’re a nonprofit Accidental Admin, attending a sprint is one of the best ways to build your network, grow (whether in Salesforce knowledge, writing, project management, or other useful job skills), and to have some fun.
Sprints are free, though the full experience comes from traveling to the in-person sprints (which are starting back up this fall.) Sprints move around the country in an effort to reduce the cost and burden on nonprofit employees trying to attend. Watch for one near you!
So you got your admin permissions and have become an Accidental Admin. Well why not turn yourself into an #AwesomeAdmin–a true superhero that can help your organization thrive with Salesforce? Launch yourself into the Salesforce community online and through in-person events and you’ll earn your cape in no time!
Next time: Certifications