Whether you’re an #awesomeadmin or an aspiring Salesforce architect, you’ll get a career power boost by participating in local and regional Salesforce Ohana events. (If you’re unfamiliar with the term “Salesforce Ohana,” read “What is Ohana Anyway?” for a fine explanation.) Why am I so sure? As a four-time Salesforce MVP, I’ve attended many such events – most recently Texas Dreamin’ (along with close to 450 other attendees), the Austin Salesforce Saturday (with nearly 50 attendees), and Midwest Dreamin’ – which was TOTALLY on overload with great sessions and conversations. I’ve seen the connections built and the resulting career benefits for those involved.
In this blog, you’ll learn:
- Which Ohana events are best for what goals
- How to strategically grow your Salesforce Ohana network
- How to get the support you need for Ohana event participation
Which #SalesforceOhana events are right for you now?
Which Salesforce events are right to help you grow your career? The answer is, “It depends on what you need and what you want to learn.”
- Want to learn new things with peers and solve Salesforce puzzles together? Then a Salesforce Saturday event might be best. Started in 2015 by Stephanie Herrera (Salesforce MVP and co-founder of PepUp Tech), there are now dozens of Salesforce Saturdays around the world – from Amsterdam to Phoenix, from Cleveland to Tokyo, you can meet, network, and work together to improve your Salesforce skills. And if you’re not in a city with an active Salesforce Saturday…there are virtual Salesforce Saturday groups waiting for you. Find more groups, and the ones nearest you, via Twitter by searching with the hashtag #SalesforceSaturday.
- Want to learn more about releases and AppExchange partners while building your local network? Then make sure you’re a member of a local Salesforce User Group, and go! User Groups are the ideal place to learn what’s new and what’s coming from Salesforce, and to walk through details on new releases with group leaders. They’re also a great place to learn about AppExchange apps’ functionality that might help you in your current job – and beyond.
- Want to build career connections while supporting women in tech? Salesforce Women In Tech (WIT) groups are not just for women. They provide a supportive place for women and allies to inspire each other, to problem-solve career dilemmas, and to share cool new ways to get more from Salesforce. FInd your closest WIT group in the Trailblazer Community, contact them, and see how you can be a part of one of the oldest Ohana groups.
- Want to build even more career connections, while supporting equality and diversity in tech? Connect with members of Salesforce’s own internal Ohana Groups at your next event. While Salesforce’s internal Ohana groups are for Salesforce employees, you can find members at many events – and on Twitter and LinkedIn. The current list comprises BOLDforce, Outforce, Women’s Network, Abilityforce, Earthforce, Latinoforce, Pacficforce, SouthAsiaforce, Vetforce, and Faithforce. You can even earn a Trailhead badge by learning more about these groups!
- Want to do all the above plus turbo-charge your skills – in a couple of days? Look for and attend regional Salesforce Community events, like London’s Calling, Midwest Dreamin’, Snowforce, India Dreamin’, PhillyForce, or Texas Dreamin’. These large gatherings attract admins, developers, and partners from all across the globe, providing an opportunity for participants to lead sessions, connect, share knowledge, and have fun.
You’ve registered for an event – now what?
Congrats on registering for an event, and taking that first step towards growing. Some best practices in being strategic about Salesforce Ohana events include:
- Research the speakers / presenters, and turn them into mentors. Speakers and presenters at Ohana events are usually well-connected in the Salesforce community, highly experienced, and helpful. Find those speakers on the event agenda with career roles and job titles that align with your goals. If they invite people to stay after their session for one-to-one answers to questions, that’s your opening – introduce yourself, tell them one brief thing that you liked about their presentation and ask them one question – and exchange contact information so you can continue the conversation at a later date.
- Volunteer to help at the event, BEFORE the event. Event organizers and User Group leaders almost always need an extra pair of hands to assist at an Ohana event. After you register, let the meeting organizers know that you’d like to volunteer to assist. Volunteering will help you not only build connections with organizers and attendees, but will give you “behind the scenes” insights into what it takes to manage a successful Ohana event – thus more confidence when you decide to lead a session yourself.
- Prepare yourself to present. Even if submitting a session idea is something in your future, it’s never too soon to prepare yourself to be a great presenter. Groups like Toastmasters can give you valuable experience in public speaking, and there’s a Trailhead module for public speaking skills as well! Public speaking is just part of the preparation, though – every great presenter tells a story, and you can learn the Salesforce approach to great storytelling in this Trailhead module.
Keep your new connections growing. Most Salesforce admins and developers I’ve met are self-described introverts; if you’re one too, this may be a little daunting, but the word “connect” is a verb. Once you start meeting new people and acquiring new Salesforce Ohana connections, you need to build a plan to keep your connections vibrant and growing. That plan could be as simple (and low-maintenance) as sharing a cute or witty gif on Twitter with some connections, or as formal as recurring meetups. Making a connection with a new person is one thing, but keeping a connection requires action.
Getting your employer to cover your Ohana event costs
Participating in regional Salesforce Ohana events may mean travel expenses and registration fees, as well as time out of office. It’s important to plan (and to ask for resources) as early as possible to maximize the chances your travel request will be approved. Even in smaller organizations, there’s often some budget for continuing skills development and training – so don’t be afraid to ask. There are many resources available online regarding Dreamforce that will give you a starting point to pitch the value of your attending an Ohana event like Midwest Dreamin’ to your employer. Below are a few samples of what you’ll find that can help you hone your pitch.
- Blog – “How to Convince Your Boss to Send You to Dreamforce ’17” by Melissa Kraines, Director, Social & Content Marketing, Strategic Events at Salesforce.
- Video – “How to Get Your Boss to Pay for Dreamforce” by Salesforce MVP Cheryl Feldman.
ROI calculator and letter template – go to the Dreamforce site here, then scroll down to find an ROI calculator and a template that you can modify to fit a regional event request.
Learn from everyone – including Salesforce MVPs
Salesforce MVPs are recognized and awarded based on input from their peers, and the core of the MVP mission can be found here. I’ll sum the MVP mission up as Salesforce-Ohana-focused Sharing, Helping, Building, Leading. You’ll find MVPs on Twitter and in the Trailblazer Community. Here are videos about being an MVP by a few faves, including David Giller, Francis Pindar, and Stephanie Herrera.
Speaking of Stephanie, I was glad that my employer, Spanning Backup, provided the venue for the post-Texas-Dreamin’ edition of Salesforce Saturday, and I was thrilled to meet up with Stephanie and 45+ other Ohana friends for networking, learning, and breakfast tacos (courtesy of Bridgepoint Consulting). If you’d like to learn why Stephanie protects her organization’s Salesforce data and metadata with Spanning Backup for Salesforce, you can read her review of Spanning on the AppExchange here. And you can help the Salesforce Ohana and PepUp Tech by taking the Trailblazer Community Survey here.
Hope to see you at a Salesforce Ohana event soon!