Originally posted on the Now IT Matters blog.
Renee Storm is an executive assistant at Now IT Matters, Girlforce member and study group participant, and has been working on the Salesforce platform for 5 months. She lives in Bozeman, Montana, with her 2 furbabies Annie and William.
I was introduced to Salesforce a mere 5 months ago. I immediately became an active Salesforce user group participant and last week, I even presented to our local group!! How is this possible? Simple: you don’t need to be an expert to make a contribution to your local user group!
Late one Thursday afternoon, my boss, one of our user group leaders, mentioned we did not have anyone to present on the following Tuesday. He casually noted if we couldn’t find anyone, I was going to need to step up. Wow! I started using Salesforce only months ago and had attended 3 user group meetings in total and now…. I was supposed to present?!? “Sure” I said; Sure was nervous.
What I learned was that my inexperience and limited knowledge was embraced by the group and I was able to teach the group a few new tricks. Here are my top 3 reasons you don’t need to be an expert to actively participate in your local user group:
User Groups are an Open Format. In my experience, the user group is set up to be an open format with an exchange of ideas. Yes, one person is often the “presenter”; however, I have experienced all members of the group chiming in during the presentation to add content and ask questions. The use of peer exchanges provides participants with the opportunity to examine and evaluate their own use and understanding of their Salesforce instance through a collaborative group of peers. The user group may be made up of beginner, novice, and expert level users; however, all persons are encouraged to exchange vision, ideas, and best practices to benefit the group.
The group is completely objective and non-judgmental. Do you have an overly simplified question? Ask the group. Are you stuck trying to create a report? Ask the group. I have never felt persecuted or made to feel inferior if I asked a simple question. The group knows I am a new user and is excited to help me on my way to becoming a more advanced administrator.
Energy is created by the exchange of ideas. Although every answer or example provided may not be the best or exactly the correct answer, it will be considered. The group will take the time to examine the possibility or your suggested solution. As a new user, my methodology may be simpler but not necessarily incorrect.
Everyone Attends a User Group to Learn. I attended my first user group meeting 8 days after I started working in Salesforce. I was hungry—hungry for knowledge, hungry for more know-how, hungry to see what others were doing. Did I say anything at that first meeting? Not a chance! I observed and absorbed. The most impressive thing I observed was that everyone was there to learn.
When we work in our own system each day our actions become routine. We know what needs to get done and we know how to do it. Humans are creatures of habit, and habits help us through our day. When we are doing something that is routine, we are not as engaged in the task as when we are doing something that is not habitual. How often do we stop and consider if our method is the best practice or most efficient method?
Attending a user group allows you the opportunity to break your habits and create new ones. You may learn a shortcut. Another user may learn how to better organize the most pertinent information for them to get their job done. The bottom line is everyone has the opportunity to learn something through attendance at a user group meeting.
Attendees at a User Group want to Share. In my experience, participants at a user group want to share. They drank the Kool-aid® and want to impart their Salesforce knowledge to others and take in new information. Once the initial trepidation wore off, I, too, was excited to share and present to our group.
Sharing, or teaching, is the best way to learn. In preparation for a presentation, you need to organize the material you hope to share. During the process, you try to clarify the information to yourself, and fill in any holes or misunderstandings. Finally, while sharing with the group, you are speaking and repeating the information, which solidifies it.
Attendees not only want to share knowledge or processes they are certain of, they also want to share new and creative ideas they are working on. We all want validation to be sure our processes will meet the needs of our users and clients. A user group is a safe place to share amongst a group of peers and watch ideas grow and flourish.
I recently embarked on my journey to become a certified administrator. I am certainly not an expert and I’m at the beginning my Salesforce journey. Attendance at and presenting to our local user group has helped me to update and solidify my procedures, gain confidence in the knowledge I hold, and field my insecurities in a safe and welcoming environment. No matter what your experience is, try attending your local user group, you just might like it!