Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Salesforce Community & The Best $200 I Never Spent

I can't remember exactly how I found out about Salesforce User Groups, but I definitely remember the first one I ever attended. It was sometime in early 2005 and I was still working as a secretary as well as doing the Salesforce Administration work. I was trying to get myself promoted within my company to just do Salesforce configuration and administration. My new manager seemed open to it, but only if I could complete a project. The project was for Sales to track more information and have additional reporting and metrics.

I had been working on this project for two weeks with the hope of getting a promotion and a raise. I had about 90% of the work done but I was stuck on two formula fields. I just couldn't get them to work correctly. I had one that I couldn't save because I was getting a syntax error and another that wasn't displaying the proper result. After about two days of being completely frustrated I found myself on my way to my first User Group meeting. On my way to the meeting I stopped at an ATM and withdrew $200.00 for the purpose of potentially paying someone to help me get my formulas in working order. I wasn't sure what the going rate for a Salesforce consultant was, but I figured the $200.00 would be sufficient and an investment in my own career and future.

I wasn't sure what to expect out of the User Group as I really had never been to anything like this before. When I arrived, there were nice people to greet me and tell me where to go. I sat down and was delighted to find out there was going to be a presentation on reporting as well as a partner presentation. I was surprised how much I learned in just a few minutes of listening to someone talk about some key metrics and reports admins should create for their organizations. I couldn't believe that this whole thing was free. I felt like I hit the jackpot.

After the presentations ended they had a networking session with snacks and drinks. I approached two people that were quite active in the discussions during the presentation and introduced myself and told them of my formula woes. They walked me over to an area where we could get an internet connection and I setup my laptop. I showed them what I was trying to accomplish and my error message. Within 2 minutes they helped me save my formula formula and correct my syntax error! Hallelujah! Within another 5 minutes they walked me through how to properly use one of the formula functions to get the correct result in my formula. Hooray! I was in business and could move forward with my project!

After my formulas were saved, I pulled out my wallet and asked how much I owed them. I was secretly praying and hoping that it wasn't more than $200.00. They looked at me really funny and explained to me the purpose of the User Group. My new heroes explained that the User Groups were about helping each other and their payment was to see me grow my skill-set. I couldn't believe it I only had two more small pieces to do on the project and then I would have completed my first Salesforce project!

It would be hard for me to articulate in words how my first User Group experience made me feel. I have never forgotten that feeling, the two people that helped me or the purpose of the User Groups. If you are reading this and have never attended your local user group, I highly encourage it. The User Group program has evolved so much since I first attended in 2005. There are so many groups in various cities as well as groups specific to non-profits, developers and verticals. I promise, it will be worth your time.

For those of you wondering, I did finish my project and the Sales teams loved it. Unfortunately, my manager didn't think it was enough to warrant a promotion. I did eventually end up spending that $200. I purchased a new suit that I could use for job interviews. If you read my previous blog, then you know what happened next. Onwards and upwards as they say!

I would like to dedicate this post to those in the community leading user groups, answering questions, writing blogs, training people and helping others. I have built my career on Salesforce not only because its a great platform but because of the great community surrounding it. Thank you. I wouldn't be where I am today if it wasn't for all of you.

See you at a User Group meeting Soon :)



  1. This is an awesome, inspiring story of the power of the Community and in particular the User Groups. I'm so glad you spent that $200 wisely and landed where you belong. Rock on!

    1. Thank you, Leyna! I look forward to meeting you at DF14!

  2. Wow. You nailed exactly what the User Groups are about. I started a Developers User Group and we're growing that community in the Pittsburgh area. We hold work-along sessions every other month to do nothing but help each other through our issues. I'm glad you were able to springboard from the experience.

    1. Thank you so much John! The user groups over the years have provided me so much support. Also, as an admin I attend Developer user groups. Its so important for admins and BA's to know the capability of a platform. Plus the developers are usually able to help me answer crazy complex how should we design this question.

  3. Cheryl, this is an awesome story! I love to hear how folks found help from other community members - especially through local user groups. They are a hidden gem and those that are involved with their local user group gain a wealth of knowledge and a great network!

    1. Thanks, Brent! I have so many more stories like this about user groups and just this community in general. I'm going to try and share each one. :)

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Welcome to the salesforce community Cheryl! Maybe we can use that $200 for the NY User Group bar run! If I happen to be in town for the next one I'll personally treat the first $200! Cheers!

  6. As always Cheryl, this is awesome blog!

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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