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!
Thank you community. That is the best way I could start this post. A little over three years ago, I had my first introduction to Salesforce as a user. Since that time, my experience with it and my involvement with the community has increase exponentially. Just over three months ago I was named to MVP program and co-founded a developer user group with a friend I made through this community. Now I have just finished my third highly enjoyable week at my #dreamjob with Acumen Solutions. All this is was possible because this amazing community exists and the friends I have made.
What I’m trying to say is, just be yourself, embrace the awesomeness that is all everywhere in this great community. Join your local user group or start one if one isn’t nearby. Plug in and get to know the community! You’ll be glad you did. I am extremely grateful and happy today to be a part of such an amazing community. Many people in this community have been a part of my journey, have helped shape who I am today and will continue to do so for years to come. THANK YOU!
Where do I begin? Before I get to the exciting news announced yesterday, let’s rewind about a month when someone I have a ton of respect for first approached me about becoming an MVP. I was immediately humbled that one of my peers wanted to nominate me. Especially, since this individual was an MVP already. That alone was an honor.
What is an MVP you ask? For my friends and family who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s acknowledgment from my peers in my professional community who are Salesforce.com users and advocates that I am someone who is active and supportive of members in the community. Here’s the official (and more detailed) Salesforce MVP definition.
Fast forward to April 10, 2013 when I woke up a little early to get my day started off on the right foot. Literally, I went for a run to kickstart my day. I tend to feel more energetic throughout the day which helps me avoid “hitting the wall” later on. Perhaps, those two cups of coffee might have added an unnecessary boost, but none of these things compare to the rush of energy I got when I received an email at 10:20am EST. This is when an email with the subject “Welcome to the Salesforce MVP Program!” flashed on my screen.
Holy expletive, Batman! is the first thought I had. My excitement could not, would not be contained. Immediately, I dialed the person who first nominated me. A couple of quick calls later, I was still stuck on the first paragraph, “Congratulations!” Words can’t explain how excited I am to be included in the latest crop of MVP’s. This program wouldn’t exist without the community, to whom I am grateful for the opportunity interact with, share with and learn from. Doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or grizzled veteran in the Salesforce ecosystem, do not underestimate the power of the community!
Get involved like I did and now I’m an MVP because of it. I started a new Force.com Developer Group in my area to compliment the general user group. I’m happy to say that our first formal event will be hosting a joint Hackathon on April 27th during the upcoming (global) Mobile Developer Week with the larger user groups from Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. Get on the Answers boards to help and learn from each other. There’s always something to discuss on Twitter where I get much of news from, especially the latest and greatest from this community. These are just a few examples of how I got involved and it’s these type of activities that contributed to being named an MVP. Sharing is Caring! For my own part, I will put my best foot forward (the same way I started my early morning run) to make the community as proud as I feel right now. Absolutely humbled, but proud nonetheless! It’s still sinking in as I write these words. It is my privilege to say thank you, I won’t let you down!!
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
- Salesforce ADM 201 Study Questions (Ravi Benedetti Guide via Adam Frank)
- Salesforce ADM 201 Certification Exam Study Guide – December 2011
- Salesforce Administration Test ADM-201 Part 1
- Salesforce Administration Test ADM-201 Part 2
- Admin Certification tutorial
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:
- The Force.com Workbook (PDF, HTML) – the lighter version of the two (just over 80 pages)
- Force.com Platform Fundamentals – more in-depth (almost 400 pages)
- Developerforce Technical Library – All you need to know about getting certified
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.