Posts tagged ‘user groups’

March 9, 2012

I’m a groupie!

I’m so fortunate to be a co-leader of the Boston User group – the biggest and (in my opinion) best one out there. And I know I’ve blogged about user groups in the past.  So maybe you feel as though you should go, but maybe you aren’t sure why. So here are my reasons for attending meetings as long as I have been.

  • Networking – The number one reason to go to you local user groups – the people! I’ve found the Salesforce community to be the most helpful one I’ve ever encountered. By attending a meeting, you might find someone who can help you fix a  troublesome validation rule, or give unbiased opinion on a partner product you are considering. Or maybe you can pay to forward & help another user with an issue they are having. It’s like the Salesforce Answers site, but live!
  • Product Information – With three releases a year, and release notes that frequently are 100+ pages, it can be hard to stay on top of all the Salesforce platform can do. At the user group meetings, you will often have someone (maybe even a Salesforce employee) presenting on the most recent release or newest features (or if you’re lucky, a preview of an upcoming release).
  • Answers – Some what of a combination of the previous two points, but at a user group meeting, you’ll have the chance to ask a live person any questions you may have and (hopefully) get an answer. And sometimes, hearing the questions that other users have can help you to rethink about how your company is using Salesforce.
  • Free Goodies – And if all those reasons don’t convince you, you can often get some free Salesforce or partner swag at the user group meetings. At the Boston User Group, we even raffle off a Dreamforce pass or two every year.

These were my reasons for attending long before I became a co-leader, and are the reasons that I’m so thrilled to help run a group myself. What do you get out of the User Group meetings that you attend?

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October 7, 2011

You know that I could use somebody…

Yesterday, Boston hosted the largest Salesforce user group ever! There were 426 registrants, and we packed the ballroom at the Seaport Hotel. In attendance, we had everyone from new Salesforce prospects, to C-level executives at some of the leading companies in the area. We had attendees coming from Rhode Island, Vermont, Maine, North Carolina and even a surprise guest all the way from Salesforce HQ in San Francisco.

Boston User Group - credit to @knthornt

I’ve written about the user groups in the past, (and that post wasn’t a huge success). But I’m going to try it again, because I feel so strongly about what these groups offer to those who attend the meetings.

Of course there is the free breakfast and the potential to get some swag, but that’s not why I go. It’s that chance to network, to share some of the things I know, and to see innovative things that others are doing with the platform. I go to see the vendors, and explore new ways to expand functionality. I guess you could say that I go to teach, and to learn.

With over 140 groups worldwide, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be attending. And yes, not every group is as large or as organized as Boston. But it got that way because there are passionate people attending our meetings. What’s to stop you from doing the same?

March 25, 2011

Go ahead & use me

One of the first things I did after becoming a Salesforce Admin was to start attending User Group meetings. I was lucky enough that my boss was already tied into the community (soon after I started work for her, she became the leader of our User Group), and understood the value of these meetings.

It would be hard pressed to say that these groups are a hidden gem. However, I still believe that users & companies that are new to Salesforce.com may not completely understand the value that these meetings have. Especially for smaller companies who may not be able to afford a trip to Dreamforce, this is the best way to network with the people you need to know. Just last week at our meeting, I was able to help two admins find button-click solutions to their problems & also got a suggestion on how to resolve an issue that I had been having.

These groups are still rapidly expanding in both size & number, which speaks volumes on how they are helping to transform this community.  Some of the groups are even doing all day events like “Dreamforce 2 You” down in Florida. If you aren’t already an active member in your local user group, go sign up (lower left side)! And if you are already attending, what is the value for you or your organization? Is there anything that these meetings don’t provide that you wish they did?

February 11, 2011

Why I love Salesforce.com

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d take the time to express my love for Salesforce. Now, being someone who has a blog, a Twitter handle, several email addresses & countless swag devoted to Salesforce, this post could potentially go on for awhile. But instead of focusing on all the great things about the product, I wanted to share why I love Salesforce, the company. And even when I think about the company – how they have the best user conference of all time, the engaging & wonderful employees, the 1-1-1 model that is so inspiring – that list can go on for awhile too.

Yet, even as I think about all that, there is still one reason that means more to me, and I think it was best said by a Salesforce employee that I was recently on a call with: “Our customers and our community create the brand.” They allow us, as customers, to have a voice in the discussion. And more than that, they truly care about what we say.

Did someone say prove it? You got it! They have the IdeaExchange, where suggestions from customers are heard, responded to, and very frequently implemented into the product. There’s the community site, where users can post questions & have discussions to really get the most out of their org’s instance of Salesforce. And the User Groups, which are a fantastic forum for face-to-face networking and brain-storming. If you’ve never attended one, it’s a must. I have even attended several unofficial Salesforce meetups, and made good friends because of this company. Salesforce really encourages their users to help each other. In 2009, they launched the Give Forward program for super users to volunteer their time & skills to help out non-profit organizations.

This all culminated at Dreamforce this year, with the first ever Community Conference – a half-day conference-within-a-conference to recognize what a fantastic community we have. Erica Kuhl, the Community Manager, announced the creation of the Salesforce Community MVP program to recognize important contributions to the community. (You can see the video here & yes, I am bragging a bit since I was one of them.) But I think it all goes to show what a great community there is, and how much Salesforce supports the growth of that community.

So Salesforce, I love you because you love & respect me. Will you be my Valentine?

Thanks to Kevin for the Force candy!

January 24, 2011

Thoughts on Learning Salesforce

I was lucky enough to get my first Salesforce job as a transfer over from Sales, working for someone who had been using Salesforce since 1999. An OG is the Salesforce world for sure. The majority of my initial training came from her. I also started attended User Group meetings & learning from the folks I met there.

The true test came when the certification exams were announced. Would my ad-hoc education suffice? Answer: yup! I passed both the Admin and Dev Exams with no formal training. However, the subsequent exams that follow each release has definitely kept me on my toes.

And lastly, this past summer, I got to a point where I had to reach beyond what I could learn along my way, and I attended an offical Salesforce.com training class – Getting Started with Object-Oriented Programing. This class was incredible, and you can read all about it over on Mike’s blog. I would encourage all button-clicking admins out there to take this class.

So what’s the answer? For me, the mixed approach was ideal. What was your approach? Did you do formal Salesforce training, or did you learn it all on the job? What would be your perfect training world?

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