Now that Connections 2014 has wrapped up, I’d like to take a moment to look back at a great week for the following reasons:
- Education – This should always be the priority when attending these conferences
- Networking – It is called Connections after all. Might as well make some
- Entertainment – After many hours of running from one session to the next, it’s nice to unwind
Knowledge is power and so is understanding how to use it. If training is offered, take it. Deep dive training tracks usually come at an extra cost. Grab one if it fits your budget. However, there typically are several shorter training sessions that are included with your conference pass. I was able to take advantage of both this week and glad I did. I left CNX14 knowing more than I did going in.
In a couple weeks, I’ll be attending Dreamforce in San Francisco. Once again, I’m grabbing as many Hands-on Training Sessions (HOTs) as I can manage. These are among the most popular and highly attended sessions. Grab one if you can.
One major announcement that will allow me to continue learning and expanding my skills is the new Marketing Cloud Developer Edition. For the first time ever, anyone can get access to a developer account with ExactTarget. This great for those looking to broaden their command of the core application as well as extend functionality through custom development. To learn more about what you can do with your new account, check out Getting Started with ExactTarget Marketing Cloud development.
Mingle. Knowledge isn’t the only new thing you should walk away with. Bring cards, use LinkedIn and other means to engage with people and share ideas. One of the things that makes Salesforce Community so strong is the community itself where we learn as much from each other as we do from the official guides and online help.
CNX14 had a great lineup starting with local band Dude!, will.i.am, The Script, DJ Casey Connor and Walk the Moon. will.i.am even performed LIVE with a wearable prototype that allowed him to DJ from his wrist! All the acts were at a minimum, entertaining and energetic. It’s nice to wrap up a long day with some great entertainment.
All in all it was a week we’ll spent. I am looking forward to Connections ’15 in New York!
Day 3 was packed with product keynotes and feature specific content. Data was, is and always will be the key. Especially, when we’re talking about people. It’s who you know, not what you know. How well do you know your customers and how can you leverage that information to enhance their experience with your products and retain their patronage? A recurring theme throughout the day was personalization and how every individual is the target market instead simple groups of similar people. It was great to hear firsthand accounts from several organizations how they are engaging customers with relevant information at the right time using the tools in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud.
Today is the 4th and final day of Connections. There are several keynotes and one last chance to visit the Expo floor, including the Developer Zone where I’ll be. Tomorrow I’ll summarize the week as a whole.
You have just taken your first step in the journey with the Marketing Cloud…and in just a few minutes, you will receive an activation email for your free Developer Edition.
Those words brought a tear to my eye. If you haven’t heard, you can now get your very own Developer Account in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. This is awesome news for those looking to unlock and extend the power of ExactTarget. All around it was another great day of learning and connecting.
Another cool development happened during the music festival with will.i.am performing and DJing LIVE from his wrist!! It wasn’t without it’s quirks, but he handled it like a BOSS and it was even more impressive as his fully load laptop actually crashed forcing him to rely on the wrist DJ (the death stares his tech guy got as he tried to fix the laptop on stage suggests this was NOT staged. If it was, it was REALLY good acting). The Script and DJ Casey Connor also put on excellent performances.
Monday was the first day of ExactTarget Connections. There are only a few activities available on day one, which is mostly about getting here, registration and prepping to roll through the meat of the conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was fortunate enough to find one activity that is as valuable as just about any you will find here by attending a training session. Whenever I attend any kind of trade show or work related conference, my number one priority is learning something new. Mission accomplished and we’re just getting started! As much fun as the entertainment and parties can be, it’s all about knowledge.
If you’re not attending CNX14 and saving yourself for Dreamforce next month, make sure you maximize your agenda by grabbing at least one Hands-on Training Session (HOT). The fill up fast so if you don’t get the one you want, favorite it and keep checking to see if new ones are added. The most popular HOTs are likely to be repeated. A limited number of walk-ups are held in reserve so even if you can’t lock one in, you still have a good chance of getting in. If you go the “stand-by” route, it is recommended to arrive early to be at the front of the line. There’s always a few no shows, but don’t rely on that if you really need to get in on a particular training session.
I cannot take credit for the original idea, that honor goes to Brian Kwong, aka The Wizard. His version was born in a browser before Salesforce1 (S1) and Publisher Actions (did I get it right Shannon?) were introduced. So when my youngest was born, I built Babyforce 2.0 as way to pass the time during those late nights and amuse myself by building an app my wife could easily use to track diaper changes and baby wipes. Easy, right?
Actually, yes it is. That’s the beauty of S1, anyone can build an app, no code required! In my case I had several objectives:
- Had to be short and sweet – no way I’m getting Wifey to use this if it’s hard
- Had to include only the essentials – no need to get fancy
- Had to be measurable – how else would I justify my experiment?
After few minutes, Babyforce was mobile! Over the first month, my lovely wife amused me by participating in my little experiment. We collectively tracked 357 “transactions” and broke them down few different ways. I give you the BabyDash!
It was a fun way to brush up on the functionality of Salesforce1 and did not take long to create. Safe Harbor, Brian is working on Toddlerforce 1.0. Stay tuned!
If you use Salesforce and haven’t joined the Salesforce Success Community or been to a user group before, you should. In a nutshell, it’s a support network for the community, by the community. The community is more than just a simple forum with questions and answers. It’s absolutely a fantastic resource for your Salesforce education, but it goes way beyond that.
This community cares and genuinely looks after each other. Don’t believe me? Read Cheryl Feldman’s first user group experience. Listen to Sarah Deutsch on the power of Community podcast on the ButtonClick Admin™. Or check out the magical journey of our resident Wizard, Brian Kwong who will point you to yet more inspiration.
I also owe my thanks to many many people in the community. That’s a key word – community. The majority of my self-education came from the community. – Brian Kwong, aka Salesforce Wizard
No matter your role, level or location, if you work with Salesforce the community is available. The Success Community is the epicenter in the cloud. This is where you will find Answers your questions, a platform for your Ideas or a place for Collaboration. It’s also the home for most User Groups (for Developer Groups head here).
This week I had the pleasure taking road trip to Wilmington, NC to present at the local user group with my friend and fellow community member Phillip Southern, author of the blog philthecloud.com. We had a great conversation with those in attendance about the Salesforce Community at large and the MVP Program which is an subset of the community. We were invited to speak to the community about the community…AWESOME! We had a great group who were interactive and eager learn more about the benefits of participating in the community.
As we wrapped our session, an unexpected and thoughtful question was asked by the crowd, had we as presenters saw value in the conversation even though it was a requirement of the program? The answer to the first part of the question is we definitely enjoyed our time and easily saw the value. Any chance we have to encourage others to participate in the community is welcome. The fact that we had more of a conversation than a straight up push presentation where we did all the talking was all I needed to know the topic resonated. As for the second part of the question, it is actually not a requirement of the program. It’s an honor to collaborate with others in the community at events like this. For those who are remote employees like Phil and myself, it’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn and share. We do it because we love the community, both online and in person.
The following is a excerpt taken from the online community. It sums up the best of the community:
At a minimum, the community is a resource you can learn from, free of charge. At it’s best, the community is will improve your life as much personally as it does professionally.
Ready to join the fun? Go to https://success.salesforce.com/ to learn more and start your own road trip!