Salesforce Certification – Where do I start?

So you use Salesforce and you want to “cert up” aka get certified, but where do you start? For starters, it doesn’t hurt to bookmark the Salesforce Certification page. Once there you will notice there are four tracks to follow.

Since the purpose of this post is to help those starting their journey towards certification, I will focus on the first two options only. The Administrator and Developer tracks are both starting points while the last two are for advanced users. Certifying as an Administrator requires you to understand the idealistic way to leverage the the core functionality of this powerful CRM application. The ADM 201 exam is the gateway and prerequisite to obtaining additional certifications that fall under the Implementation Experts track that specialize in two different areas, Sales & Service Clouds respectively (see Implementation Experts for more details). There are many community resources out there to help you study in addition to official offerings. Here are a few of them to help you prepare for ADM201

In my opinion, the Developers exam is more practical. If you’re a hands-on type of learner, then take advantage of the practice resources available to you. In the bullets below, are two main Developer workbooks that I used to prepare for the Developer exam. I was wisely told prior to starting down this path that if you “know the book, know the exam”. I started with Fundamentals and quickly followed that up with the skinnier Workbook. I strongly recommend you create an account on Developer Force and practice using these guides:

Here are a few community-based resources for DEV401

Choosing the best track for you will come down to your role and responsibilities. Another consideration is your learning style. For me, I learn best through hands-on experience. If this you and/or you don’t have much practical experience with Salesforce, then the Developer track is the way to go. As I mentioned above, there are two practice guides you can follow in your developer org. I felt great before, during and after passing developer exam because I completed both developer workbooks. If you need additional incentive, Salesforce has some swag for you just for building a simple app (details supplied at registration). A happy coincidence is that you get hands-on experience that is also relevant to Administrator track. Something that I benefited from as I recently added the Admin certification to my collection. Win-win situation! Here are more Salesforce resources to help you prepare for and maintain your skills:

Good luck with whichever certification you choose to tackle first!  Let me know in the comments if I missed a helpful resource the community would benefit from.

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Top 2 Reasons to be excited about Dreamforce: Dream Team in the Cloud

Dream Team…Assemble in the Cloud!

It’s finally come and gone! After months and weeks of buildup, including my own running buildup to the event, Dreamforce was wonderous week! This is an exciting time! I got to hang with almost twenty of my colleagues as a team. No small feat considering we’re coming from all over North America, spanning multiple time zones. We came together to learn, share and socialize with over 70,000 85,000 people who have similar ambitions…to get better. This is the biggest cloud computing event in the industry. At no other time in the previous or coming 365 days will we have best of the best in the same room like this. This was an opportunity to engage with like-minded people to share our challenges and successes with one another, to learn from each other. The reason I have combined my top two reasons together is because they are unmistakably linked together. We all live and breathe in the cloud and wouldn’t be the team we are without it. I am lucky because of the advances in technology allow me to access not only data, but people from around the globe. Thanks to the cloud, I can telecommute to work, build and maintain relationships with my team as well as serve my clients from any place that has power and an internet connection. Communication is crucial to team success and cloud computing makes this all possible. It’s great to be able to connect through technology, but nothing can replace the benefits of sharing an experience together. My first Dreamforce was even more amazing with my team than it would have been without them. As great as it is to connect over great distances, you can’t replace a handshake with an email. I have met a handful of my team in person and it will be great to reconnect with familiar faces and equally exciting to meet the others in person for the first time. I love the fact that I got to spend this week with the best in the business, including my team!

The power of the cloud is not to be understated, especially when you consider that over 750 education sessions are dedicated to enhancing my cloud prowess, including multiple #HOT (hands-on training) sessions. Add in the sneak peeks of next generation apps and you have yourself one amazing looking week! It went by in a flash. Probably because I was so busy stuffing as much as I could into my agenda. I loved every minute of my first adventure at the almost flawless event. I learned a ton. I met a lot of cool people (some new, some only previously familiar thanks to Twitter). The Red Hot Chili Peppers lit up city hall and I got a quick treat at my favorite West Coast burger joint In-N-Out! To sum it up, my first Dreamforce was AMAZING and I cannot wait for the next one! I’m crossing off the days on my calendar until #DF13. In the meantime I will apply everything I learned at #DF12 to better myself. If I’m fortunate enough, next year I would love to help others make the most of their Dreamforce experience.

Reasons 3 & 4 to be excited about Dreamforce: Radian6 & being Social

Sharing is Caring

It’s almost time to kickoff Dreamforce. In my last post, I talked about how much I am looking forward to spending a week in San Francisco. So much of that excitement focused on all things social, which has permeated almost every area of our lives. Personally and professionally, social is just normal part of my everyday life. Earlier this  year Brian Solis shared an intriguing post on the impact social has had ‘business as usual’.

No matter what it’s called in the future, social enterprise is here to stay. It’s the journey, not the destination. So much has changed in the last year since Salesforce coined the phrase as we know it today. As the start of Dreamforce approaches, the more I hear about the Marketing Cloud, which now includes Radian6 and Buddy Media, I can’t wait to hear what’s next as this cloud continues to evolve. I want to hear more success stories like Burberry and HP and the exciting things they are doing to improve the way they do business. I need to hear about other organizations like NBC who leverage tools like Chatter to encourage cool-laboration and improve its business practices.

Sharing is caring, but that is not limited to sharing content. It’s also about sharing your ear. Being social is two-way street that must have balance between listening and speaking. Otherwise, it isn’t a conversation. I am fortunate to have access to best of breed tools like Radian6’s engagement platform that allows me the ability to first and foremost, listen. There are a great many things I can do with this tool including listening, measuring and engaging. However, keep in mind that the tool itself is not the silver bullet. In order for tools like Radian6 to be effective, you must plan accordingly. For additional resources on starting or refining your social strategy, check out these resources:

My strategy at Dreamforce is to listen and learn as much as I can. There over 300 social-focused sessions. That’s over 25% of the available sessions! Clearly, social has rapidly infiltrated so much of what we do, it’s just expected. Which is to say, it’s just how we do business now. If you still have room in your agenda, check out this top 10 list of social media for marketing session at #DF12.

No matter where you are in your journey, you will find it much easier to engage if you have something to add to the conversation. I know that I need to plan and listen before engaging. There’s an old saying, “think before you speak”. With that in mind, I have adopted “listen before you engage”. The days of pure broadcast marketing à la the popular TV show “Mad Men” are gone. Today, it is vital that businesses hear what people are saying to or about them and engage each person as an individual. Of course, it will help if you understand something about them before “solving the problem” you think they have. That’s where listening first, understanding second, and speaking third will come in handy. If they feel valued, then they will reciprocate.

At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. Businesses are operated by people and people make decisions based on the information they have at the time. In the last decade, information has become widely available faster than ever before. The best relationships are have one common trait…communication. When the conversation is valued on both sides, it tends to last longer, as does the relationship.

Just a few hours to go. I’m ready to engage! Are you?

Reason #5 to be excited about Dreamforce: Location

Location, location, location

By this time next week, Dreamforce will be in full swing! People from around the world will begin descending upon San Francisco as early as Friday night in anticipation of a great week #GTKTC, a.k.a. getting to know the community! While there will be plenty to do during the conference Tuesday through Friday, there is also an amazing city to be explored when there is some downtime. San Francisco is an amazing city that you will leave wanting to stay. Here are a few helpful sites to help you maximize your time:

  • Dreamforce FAQ page has all the official details
  • DF Guide to parties, places and activities in and around Dreamforce created by AppExchange Partner arrowpointe
  • Trip Advisor has tips for travelers written by travelers. Community strikes again, yay!
  • San Francisco Travel provides visitors with range of information about the area
  • has all your transportation information for the Bay Area
  • UBER makes an app that lets you book a taxi instantly to get around (available on iPhone and Android)

With so many options it’s easy to get lost in amazement by all there is to see and do. If you’re into sports like me, then you’re in luck. The division leading Giants are playing baseball at home all week as they try to clinch a playoff berth. They host the Colorado Rockies Monday-Thursday, then the San Diego Padres Friday-Sunday. Tickets are as low as $5.95. I plan to catch a game before heading back East. For football fans who come in early, you could catch the 49ers take on the Detroit Lions Sunday night (9/16). Unfortunately, I won’t get in early enough for this early season match-up between two teams with title hopes. Either way, it’s an exciting time for sports fans in the city. Here are some other popular ideas for things to do when you’re not enjoying Dreamforce:

While you’re out and about, will you check in on Foursquare? There’s one already up for Dreamforce and rumor has it the Community Lounge will have their own available before the end of the week! If you just want to know how to find the lounge, here is the address for the Marriott Marquis.

If you missed out on registration for the fourth annual Dreamforce 2012 Tweetup, you can add your name to the wait list. Otherwise, check out the parties listed (and broken down by day!!!) on DF Guide for alternatives.

Of course, there will be plenty of action going on in Dreamforce Plaza and I’m not just talking about the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I am personally very excited to see for the first time live. For a list of all local bands and activities on the Plaza, login to the Dreamforce App and check out the schedule.

Phew! All this talk about the all there is to see and do at Dreamforce and in San Francisco in general leads me to the topic of my next post…social. Blog you soon!

Reason #6 to be excited about Dreamforce: Community

Why Community Matters

So far, I have covered what I plan to learn at Dreamforce. A large part of that education will come from the sessions, but equally important is what I will learn from the community. If you’re like me, it’s not all about hitting the books, but also what can I learn from others. That’s where the community comes in. So much of what we can do today is because of the amazing dedication of the many that make up our community!

Cool-laborating (it’s cool to collaborate) is an effective way to share, teach, and learn. It’s the community that fuels the Ideas and Answers. It’s the community that is usually the first to respond to #askforce questions on Twitter. The cream of that crop makes up the community MVPs. I am looking forward to connecting with our community in the various sessions as well as in the Community Meet Up Lounge in the Marriot Marquis Atrium.

If you can’t make it to Dreamforce, that’s unfortunate, but it’s not the end of the road. You can attend a Cloudforce or even start your own community event. That’s exactly what my colleague and current two-time reigning community MVP, Jennifer Phillips did. As leader of her local user group, she and other leaders in her neighborhood decided to bring Dreamforce to You Florida and earlier this year celebrated its third birthday. It is for the community, by the community. If you’re not already involved, find your local user group and get involved!

Communities can make or break an experience. School, government, religion, team sports and many other areas of our life built around communities–people coming together for a common cause or interest.

According to Wikipedia, community is inherently social. All of these areas of life depend on its community to be successful. If you don’t have community then what do you have? Salesforce products are good, but it’s the community that makes it great. Radian6 Community manager Trish Forant says it best, “If content is king, then dare I say that community is queen.” If my house is the content and my neighborhood is clearly the community, then I am fortunate to have an #awesome kingdom. It’s the same here. I had an issue I hadn’t seen before this week and it was thanks to my community I was able to resolve it and learn some new tricks.

I can’t wait to see new faces in new places and connecting the real people to their avatars. Technology has really made the world a “smaller” place because we can connect with each other over greater distances than ever before. As #awesome as that is, there’s nothing like an in person shared experience. If the sessions are the primary source of  education at Dreamforce, then community is a close second. Not only that, but I might just come away with some cool new relationships. I can’t wait to meet, reconnect and expand my community! See you soon!

Reason #7 to be excited about Dreamforce: Education

It’s elementary!

 In my last post, I shared my excitement about attending Dreamforce for the first time. Now I will start to dive into the various reasons why, starting with education. After all the hype and hoopla surrounding the event is put aside, the primary reason I am going is to expand and reinforce my skills in the Salesforce ecosystem. Social sessions are in hot demand and as a practitioner of Radian6, I will definitely attend a few of those. Of course, what you do with all that big data coming in from social networks? That’s where core competencies of Salesforce like workflow and validation rules come in so you can be sure I’ll take in my share of the “nuts and bolts” sessions.

Starting on Tuesday, I have filled up my agenda with a ton of bread and butter topics focusing largely on security and sharing, workflow and validations, and 7 Habits of Highly Successful Admins. This last track includes one speaker in particular that I am really looking forward to hearing Mike Gerholdt, the Button Click Admin. I have picked up a couple tips from his blog, including some great tips for newbies like myself on how to make the most of my Dreamforce experience.

As I mentioned earlier, I use Radian6 to help my clients and employer understand the strategic and pragamatic value of going social. One prerequisite in this role is understanding that the landscape is constantly changing and what you know today could be irrelevant tomorrow. With that in mind, I will be attending plenty of Social Enterprise sessions including Getting to Know the Community on Wednesday.

I’m jacked up to continue the social theme on Thursday with a session on the not so mythological ROI of being social. It’s not all about how many followers or friends you have. In order to show an accurate ROI, first you must define your goals and what metrics show legitimate and repeatable results. This session has examples from real companies, not theoretical use cases. Class is in session!!

On Friday, September 21st, you’ll find me spending a lot of time at the Hilton in Union Square with some hands on sessions. The last of my Hands-on Training sessions is the one on how to Automate Your Business Process w/ Visual Workflow. It’s great to be social, but even better when you can do something about all the knowledge at your fingertips.

There are so many sessions, I couldn’t possibly attend them all. After some tough decisions, I focused on the topics that would have the most immediate impact on my daily activities. With a plethora of product managers and community experts on hand, if I can’t learn something new at Dreamforce, then shame on me. I strive to be the best at everything I do so I can never learn enough. Maya Angelou sums it up perfectly, “When you know better you do better.”

Which sessions are you most excited about? Stay tuned for my next reason to be excited about attending Dreamforce!

Dreamforce Newbie

7 Reasons I am excited about my first Dreamforce

I am ecstatic about attending the first of what I hope to be many Dreamforce events! Everyone I know who has gone raves about their experience. Finally I get to learn the secret handshake and get a firsthand perspective on the biggest and considered by some, the best event in our industry today. To celebrate, I have created a list of what I am looking forward to the most. Over the next 3 weeks I will dive into each topic and what they mean to me and hope to pick up a tip or two from you!!


With over 150 hands on sessions, a plethora of product managers and community experts on hand, if I can’t learn something new at Dreamforce, then shame on me. I strive to be the best at everything I do so I can never learn enough. Maya Angelou sums it up perfectly, “When you know better, you do better.”

Location, location, location

San Francisco is an amazing city that you will leave wanting to stay (and here are a few reasons why)! Of course, Dreamforce is the main event and I will take advantage of every opportunity to connect and collaborate in the city by the bay.

Team Bonding

As we fly higher into the cloud and telecommuting continues to expand, building and maintaining relationships is crucial to team success. It’s great to be socially connected, but nothing can replace the value of shared experiences in person. Can’t wait share this experience with my team!



Meeting new faces in new places and connecting the real life faces to their avatars. If learning is the primary reason many attend Dreamforce, Community is not far behind. Wizards of Oz no more, I want a peek behind those curtains!

Cloud Computing

The power of the cloud is not to be underestimated. I love the fact that I get to spend a week with the best in the business! Hundreds of sessions on getting the most out of the best tools in world? Yes, please!


I love working with best of breed tools like Radian6’s engagement platform. Any chance to expand and deepen my expertise is a welcome one and will frequently pop up on my itinerary and there are over 50 related sessions to choose from!

Social Enterprise

It’s a concept, not a product. It’s always evolving and I am fired up to see what new trends are emerging! I’m social and I know it.

My next post will start counting down to Dreamforce with a deep dive into each topic on my list above with increasing importance. What did I miss? What does your list look like? Do you have any tips to share?