London’s Calling, Not Dreamin’

We’ve just finished our second London’s Calling Community conference.  We’ve been asked a few times why the name London’s Calling and why didn’t we opt to go with the Dreamin’ name like the majority of the other conferences.

There is a simple answer to that, we’re not dreamin’.  If you’ve been to England, you’ll know it’s cold, damp and cloudy, especially in February.  This means that our conference has a bit of an edge.. You can thank the Vitamin D deficiency for that.

One of the things we try to do with this event is to infuse it with British culture.  Being in the interesting position of being an American living in London, I understand my own as well as theirs.  Where Americans would embrace the concept of Dreamin’.. The Brits might give you the side eye.  A little too optimistic for their taste.  So as part of our objective for London’s Calling, the event has to be reflective of the intersectionality of Salesforce and British culture.  One would say it’s no easy feat, but we make sure there are elements of both in everything that we do. We give you Ohana served up with a side of sarcasm.

Let’s start with the name, London’s Calling was the name that was tossed out whilst we were sitting and drinking gobs of champagne and my arm was being twisted into joining Francis & Simon on this adventure.  It was to be a placeholder name until we found something more clever.  Guess what folks, THAT never happened. We decided to stick with the name and got a theme song in the mix!  The next thing we did was tshirts.  If you’ve seen the design of our tshirts, you’ll see they cross whimsy and steampunk.  We know other community events are doing tshirts, so we’re not the first to do this, we just hope ours show our personalities.

The next part that we hope people notice is that we try not to take ourselves too seriously.  Yes, we want this to be a great event that people will come back to year after year but we know we’re not event planners and are doing this in addition to our day jobs, night jobs, school and a host of other things happening in our lives.  We’re not polished and we’re hoping that adds to our charm.  What we do take VERY seriously is our content.  We spent hours pouring over 150+ submissions for only a handful of sessions.  This meant that only 22% of submissions were accepted, which is good and bad and it’s hard to turn away fabulous content, but we have many user groups in London.  Definitely present your content there if you were not selected.

Other things we don’t do are confetti, dancing and karaoke*.  I think this may be a holdover from the fact that the UK hasn’t won Eurovision since 1998. Some are still sore about this and it’s better to just leave it alone.

At the end of the day what we want people to take away from our event is that we’re a ragtag but enthusiastic group of people that want to put on an event for the community that they’ll enjoy and want to keep attending year after year or until we run out of ideas.  We want it to reflect the culture here which we know is a bit different from event to event.  We’re hoping when you attend ours, you’ll see what we’re about.

Now that we’ve finished our second one, we’re hoping the vision is a little more clear.

*This is a constantly evolving list of things we don’t do but may do in the future.. Depends on our mood that year and how much its rained.

Advertisements

5 Reasons Why You Should Join a User Group in 2017 (if you didn’t listen to me in 2016)!

1387157570_3

Not the catchiest of titles for a blog post, I know.  But as we’re careening towards to 2017 and not a moment too soon, I thought I would remind people why Salesforce User Groups are something you shouldn’t put off joining.  Last year, I wrote a post with 5 reasons why you should join a user group, but I’ve decided to refresh it based on the events of 2016.. in case you’re wondering this post will not talk about any of the negative events of 2016, so put your pitchforks away!

5. With thrice yearly releases, we know we have to stay current on our Salesforce skills, but the opportunity to learn new things doesn’t stop there.  With the platform and industries constantly evolving and changing, it behooves even the most seasoned of Salesforce experts to keep current.  By attending user groups that deal with different industries and products, it’s easier to expand your knowledge base.  This year, I’ve added to my understanding of nonprofit and public sector based on the content and discussions at these types of user group events.  It’s definitely worth stepping outside of your comfort zone!

4. We all know and love Salesforce, but how much do we know about some of the offerings available on the Appexchange to extend the functionality of Salesforce?  The ability to engage with product companies and learn more about different offerings is another benefit of user group meetings.  Oftentimes, these product companies will sponsor user group meetings and it’s an easy way to get more information and have informal chats about their offerings.  I will admit that my knowledge of many of the apps available was lacking, but over the last year, I have had the ability to engage with some partners such as Apttus, Taskfeed and Xactly to learn more about how their products and services can help my clients when planning out their Salesforce projects.  Added bonus is that you’re usually not being sold to and can ask open and honest questions.

3. With so much new stuff coming at us in terms of the release cycles for Salesforce and all of the new Lightning functionality, sometimes we have to go to the experts for advice and guidance.  Many user groups are able to do just that and bring the experts straight to you!  We’ve had some exciting roadmap discussions and fireside chats this year about a multitude of different areas as Salesforce continues to grow.  Salesforce Admins and Devs do a great job with webinars and highlighting experts in our community but being face to face and able to ask about your most challenging of use cases is really helpful!

2. There is such a diverse audience at user groups and I know I mentioned networking in the post last year, but I would be remiss if I didn’t also give examples of some of the incredible networking I’ve seen in action this year.  From one of our Women in Tech events in May, there was a topic around mentoring and out of that discussion, some of our WiT members ended up establishing informal mentorship relationships with some other members of the community.  Being able to get guidance and support from community members who have embarked on similar paths in their careers is invaluable.

1. It should not come as any surprise that Salesforce Ohana would be my final reason.  I don’t think there is anyone on earth that would disagree on 2016 being a challenging year for many many reasons.  I’ve seen members of our community come together to celebrate births of babies (we have added lots of little future community members this year), promotions, engagements, marriages and all kinds of happy events as well as some sad events this year.  We have dealt with loss in our community as well as illnesses, etc.  But what sets us apart from any other community is that we all want to share and connect with our fellow community members.  It’s truly an extension of my family and I feel so fortunate to have so many people all over the world, as well as my own city, if I need just a simple hello.  This community makes the world smaller and accessible by bringing people together, every day.  I cannot even begin to express my gratitude for everyone that has been there for me and everyone around me over the past year.

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holiday season!

BTW, I am not responsible if the last one made you shed a tear or two. 🙂

Why Salesforce Admins & Devs are like Peanut Butter & Jelly

1474535891-peanut-butter-jelly-pink

I’ve spent the majority of my Salesforce career firmly in Admin territory.  I’ve always liked it that way, it’s a world I understand.  The ability to transform business processes and challenges into solutions coupled with reporting are some things that I enjoy.  I also like solving problems, so it works for me.  Sounds nerdy, but there you have it.

However, in 2012 my world changed a bit.  I left my job on the client side, where I had worked up to leading a Center of Excellence to dip a toe into Salesforce consulting.  It wasn’t as tough of a transition because I went from working at an insurance company straight into an insurance project. Easy Peasy.  Fast forward two years and I had left Connecticut (if you’re not from the US, it’s between Boston & NYC) was living in London and being coerced into attending my very first Dev Meetup.  That was February 2014 and I’ve never looked back.

As you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking.. why would someone who said they are firmly planted in the admin territory get so much value out of a developer group?  Well, great question!  Going to a developer user group felt like I just added the other half of the puzzle pieces onto what I already knew.  Learning about the dev world was the jelly to my existing peanut butter sandwich.  (If you know me, you’ll know that I have an intense love of peanut butter, jam optional!)

What this all means is that I learned to expand my thinking and learn a myriad of new ways to solve problems.  I may not be able to write code well, but I have come away with a whole new appreciation for the technical challenges that devs face with writing code, integrations and being able to debug why something doesn’t work.  On top of this, I’ve extended out my network to meet so many more interesting people.  Those dev people are pretty brilliant, I’ve even become friends with a few!

All of this doesn’t mean that I’ve left the admin side and hung up my solution architect hat, but it does mean that I’ve learned about topics and concepts that I would never have been exposed to if I hadn’t stepped outside of my comfort zone.  When I get a great idea, oftentimes I will grab one of my favorite devs or architects who will brainstorm with me to make my great idea, amazing.

My favorite part of being in the London Dev User Group is that it’s welcoming to all.  Yes, many times it’s a bunch of guys talking about code and dining on Domino’s and Perroni but nobody has ever made me feel like I didn’t belong for not truly being dev.  They are inclusive of everyone which one of the reasons that our Women in Tech user group partners with them often.  Thanks especially to Keir Bowden, Anup Jadhav, Richard Clark and Francis Pindar for being some of our biggest allies.  You guys helped me get this group off of the ground in the early days and we have nothing but love for the devs!  Also important to mention our rockstar support from Salesforce, couldn’t do it without all of you!  You guys make this community open, inclusive and most of all, a lot of fun.

If you, dear reader, are scared to join a dev group cause you’re an admin.. don’t be.  They’re not as scary as they look!  Join and attend a meeting as soon as possible.  If you don’t like it, you can yell at me in the comments or on twitter. 🙂

 

5 Reasons to Navigate the Salesforce Advantage Trail

Navigate_the_Salesforce_Advantage___Salesforce_Trailhead

When I started working with Salesforce back in two thousand and mumble mumble (2004 – yikes!), I knew I liked what I was seeing and after sitting in on a demo, I was immediately hooked.  I thought it looked super cool and I wasn’t even that mad at my boss for dumping it on me!

The AE took us through the benefits and why Salesforce was a game changer, but like anything else, how much of what the AE was saying was real and how much was spin?  At that time you relied on what your AE and Sales Engineer were saying to get funding for licensing and implementation costs.  They were instrumental in giving you that first sip of Kool Aid to get you to buy, but what about after the purchase?  It’s now up to you to be able to clearly articulate why Salesforce is a game changer and the benefits for your different user groups.  In the old days, I leaned heavily on my AE, Sales Engineer and CSM to give me some of the literature to help me make my case, but now we have something new and BETTER.. TRAILHEAD!

Yes, Trailhead is excellent for learning Salesforce and how to actually use the tool, but how does it help me before purchasing licenses, you ask.  Simple.. keep reading!

The Navigate the Salesforce Advantage Trail is great because you can start using it beforehand to learn those important pieces about Salesforce to help you make knowledgeable purchasing decisions or build a killer business case to get funding for licensing costs.

So why should you complete the Navigating the Salesforce Advantage Trail? Here are my top reasons!

5. Getting to Know Salesforce. How many other companies have such detailed information in a fun and interactive learning environment?  This module lets you learn about the components of the Customer Success Platform.  Even after this first module you can be speaking about Salesforce in a knowledgable manner.  You’ll look like a star in no time!

4. Four Core Differentiators. Salesforce isn’t just a software company, it’s a culture.  Just attend a Salesforce community event and you learn how quickly how much of a culture it really is.  Salesforce combines it’s four core components that propel everything they do;  they consist of Customer Success, Innovation, Leadership and Giving Back.  Salesforce doesn’t just talk the talk, they also walk the talk on giving back with their 1-1-1 model. Want to learn more? It’s in the Introducing our Four Core Differentiators module!

3. Cloud Benefits. Going through this module helps you learn how to use cloud technology to your benefit and figure out what works best for you and your business needs.  The Succeeding with a Complete CRM and Propelling Your Business in the Cloud modules will give a good understanding to help you wow your management!

2. Salesforce Technology Basics. Understanding how Salesforce’s technology works in the cloud and in an multi tenant environment.  This module will help with understanding the basics of how it all works together to give you the power of Salesforce across all of your devices.  Plus, it’s a good jump start if you decide to become Admin certified!

1. Salesforce Ecosystem. One of the most powerful things about Salesforce isn’t Trailhead (although it’s pretty awesome) or it’s power, it’s the Community behind it.  I may be biased, but I have never seen such a powerful and awesome community.  Whenever I have a question, need help or just a friendly face at Dreamforce, the Salesforce Community is always there.

I have just given you (dear reader) 5 really important reasons why you want to complete this Trailhead Trail, but I will give you a bonus one.

YOU GET BADGES!

*mic drop*