The other night travelling back from a Salesforce user group – the (amazing) London Administrators one – I got to thinking, ‘I wonder how many hours I’ve spent this year travelling to and from Salesforce user groups.’
100… that’s how many. And that’s a fair few, right?
On average I attend 2.5 meetups a month (and some months peaking at five!), with approximately a 3+ hour round trip (sometimes longer due to good ‘ol British Rail Replacement Buses). This surprised me a bit, I mean, I’ve come to really value my time at home, something that working at MobileCaddy has allowed me to do. I find myself often in awe at folk who commute to work, but here I am spending nearly half a day travelling to Developer, ISV, Admin, and WiT groups, out of office (billable time)… am I nuts?
So why do I do it?
Well, I first started attending user groups as a way to learn more about the platform. I entered the Salesforce ecosystem as a (telecoms) network software engineer with no prior experience of its offering, so I was keen to absorb as much information as possible, and what better way than to hear from those experiencing it day-in-day-out.
I initially attended the London Developer User Group, and was in awe at the friendliness of the attendees, and the willingness of direct competitors (mostly integration partners) to share stories and secrets of success… mind = blown. Folk like Anup, Keir, and Richard seemed to have an enthusiasm for tech that reminded me of my telco days… they enjoyed the tech, and knew that it wasn’t going to lie still.
Along came the London Admin User Group (it was there all along, I was just blind), and being intrigued I signed up and went along to that too. But this was a different beast… not only did their food offerings include things not provided on a pizza base, but they also actively promoted audience participation!
At first I wanted to jump through the nearest window, but I was quickly captured by the extreme openness and camaraderie that the group offered. As a dev too, I was astounded by how much of the platform I was obscured from during my day-to-day work. If there’s one tip I can give to devs, it is to attend Admin meetups.
And then X years ago my employer – MobileCaddy – became video sponsor of the London Developer User Group. As well as providing a valuable resource in terms of recordings of the talks at the events (which includes my first ever talk, on building offline Salesforce mobile apps), it also somehow managed to give Anup the green light to assume I was co-organiser. We never discussed it, I just one day was asked to assist… so I did. Beware.
For our CEO Justin, the decision to sponsor the developer User Group was an organic one. He himself has been attending this particular group since the time when there were many fewer attendees, and the events were held in the backroom of a dodge pub in Soho.
Through the sponsorship that MobileCaddy provide I’ve been so pleasantly surprised by how many people have struck up conversation with me regarding how they can take all the power of the Salesforce platform and turn it mobile, it seems that doing this in a robust manner is still something that end-users and partners are still struggling with. With that in mind it’s good to know that the various local meets of the Salesforce User Groups are always on the lookout for good venues and hosts, so if you and/or your company would like to get involved then please reach out.
Anyhoo, I’d got the itch. Meetups (as they were known then) not only provided me (and my inner geek) with like-minded conversation, but I was growing my professional network, spreading the word on how MobileCaddy can fully mobilise Salesforce, and learning a great deal in the process. But more, much more than this, I did it my wa…. nope. I made friends, really good friends. Ones I could confide in, ones who’ve confided in me, and plenty who I’ve shared a pint and a joke with. It’d be wrong not to mention Amanda, Claire, Chris, and Matt, the powerhouses (and slide junkies) behind the LAUG.
After that it spiralled… the wonderful Jodi and Louise started the WiT group, and I’d be a complete fool not to embrace them. And then the great Maritina and her ISV group emerged with a group that is already adding huge value to those providing apps in the AppExchange, despite it only being created relatively recently.
Of course, it’s not all just socialising. The presentations that are put together, by community members in their own time, are always great. I’ve learnt about Platform Events, the Lightning Road-map, Einstein Analytics dashboards, MuleSoft, CI, images in formula fields, and who knows what else. These folk all have experiences to share, and they’re very likely very valuable.
On top of these local meetups are the bigger community events, which in the UK includes London’s Calling (of which I’m a co-organiser), Surfforce, and InspireEast. Next in the UK calendar is London’s Calling, which is prepping up for it’s fourth outing and has sold out in previous years, so if you’re interested (and you should be) then I recommend buying a ticket sooner rather than later. And as well as attending these conferences you should certainly think about speaking at them; I’ve spoken at the past three London’s Calling events and have covered topics including what to think about when mobilising Salesforce, how to make use of your browser’s developer tools, and also how to build an offline mobile app that uses Salesforce Einstein (*warning – videos do include some quite wonderful wigs and snappy titles). Speaking at events like these is a great opportunity to get involved in the community, and is a sure-fire way to increase your personal branding and professional standing. The call for presentations for London’s Calling 2019 is open until the 30th November. Even if you’re not in the UK, hopefully you’ll have one close by, checkout the community conferences calendar.
And here I am. My head hurts just working out how many hours I’d spent travelling, and I don’t want to start on how many pizzas I’ve consumed. But I do know that for every bottle of beer, or M&S sandwich that I’ve had, that there’s also been an interesting and enjoyable conversation with a lovely human being and most likely the start of a great relationship.
I wish I had the vocabulary to cover what attending a meetup means, but I don’t. And why am I writing this? Well, the the last dev meetup I went to – hosted by Deloitte Digital, which was also the venue for the first ever DUG I spoke at, on developing offline mobile apps for Salesforce – I got a kick to say that I should share this story. Folk in general are bloomin’ lovely, and if you can somehow ease this thing called ‘work’ through engaging with a community of wonderful peers then you should certainly give it a go.
As I sip on my train-beer, all I can tell you dear reader is to get involved. Our ecosystem (and not just our ecosystem) is full of bright, energetic, thoughtful, funny, and welcoming people… so go join a Trailblazer Community group!