Tuesday, July 19, 2016

7 Really Good Reasons to Join a Salesforce User Group

If you have been a part of the Salesforce world for more than a few months you have no doubt heard whispers of excitement about Salesforce User Group or Salesforce Success Communities. The User Groups are customer (read: volunteer) driven local groups that are focused on providing value to the communities around them.

Curious? (Yes!)
Want to know more? (Of course you do!)
Just keep reading.

Since User Groups are not run by Salesforce, every group will have its own vibe, agenda, schedule, and focus. Salesforce provides support and resources to User group leaders under the umbrella of the Salesforce Success Communities. Strong local communities eventually mean happier, educated and successful customers for them.
If you leave near a metropolitan area, chances are there is a User Group within your reach - and joining it can provide you with some amazing resources. Read ahead to learn what you can expect and how to find a User Group near you.

So what can you get from a User Group?
  1. Learn New Stuff
    User groups are all about teaching their members new things. Sometimes it's an entire session on a new feature released in the latest Salesforce version, sometimes it's a deep-dive into a tool that we've already had for a while, and sometimes you'll learn about 3rd party apps from the AppExchange. Whatever it's about, you are bound to be exposed to new knowledge. I've been to meetings about tools that I've used for years, and am constantly amazed that I still able to learn new things - even if small.
    As stated - each User Group is different and will have a different way to organize this and some will focus more on third party vendors while others more on the platform features.

  2. Get New Ideas
    You are sitting in your office, working on your projects. You are also reading blogs (or you wouldn't be reading this), doing your Trailheads, and even reading the release notes to learn about the latest and greatest. When you come upon something cool - you get an idea - "I can use this new tool to make everybody's life a lot easier"I've been through this cycle myself plenty of times - but we each only have so much time to read and learn, and most of us only have one brain.
    This is where User Groups shine. You get to interact with so many other brains that do the same thing as you. You get a major shortcut in the form of other people's experience!
    I've had eureka moments during members' presentations, from members' comments, from discussions during the break or after the meeting was over - but so many of them ended up implemented in my Orgs and benefited my company in the form of improved efficiency, and me in the form of knowledge and experience.

  3. Do Some Amazing Networking
    I don't think I need to say too much about this one.
    When you are in a room with many others who share a common interest and work with the same tools, you generally get to talk.
    Networking is not only useful if you are looking for your next career opportunity. The people you meet can be a great resource when you need help solving a problem - and if you are lucky may even become your friends.

  4. Get Help
    So you are starting to get what I'm trying to say by now. User Groups are full of people. People who may be there just like you - to learn - and people who may have come to contribute. Both of these groups may be filled with people who would be very happy to help you solve this problem you've been racking your brain with.
    It doesn't even have to be related to the topic of the meeting.
    If you find it hard to reach out to strangers in the group, just introduce yourself to one of the groups' leaders, and ask if they know someone who could help you.

  5. Get Away From Your Monitor
  6. For many of us life is divided into two completely separate parts - work, and home. For others these two may be intermingled in one way or another.
    Regardless, you are likely only thinking of Salesforce when you are in front of a monitor.
    Change your environment! Try doing something social that just happens to also be about what you do for a living. It can provide you some much needed change of scenery, mental break, and a fresh perspective.
    Did I mention that most of these meetings have food and if you are lucky also alcohol?

  7. Pay It Forward
    So in number 4 above I mentioned those crazy people who really want to help, remember?
    Many people in the Salesforce community owe their success and knowledge to the community. To others who helped them learn, grow, improve and even provided guidance at important career intersections.
    This is really one of the things that makes the Salesforce community in general and the User Groups specifically such an amazing place: Many of us feel such gratitude towards the community and feel that it is our duty to help the next generation of Salesforce users, admins and developers.
    If you doubt for one second that this is true, just go post a question at Salesforce Answers and I promise that you will get an answer  very quickly. It's a special kind of magic that you don't get to experience until you become a part of the community.

  8. Acquire Swag
    This is probably not really a reason to join a community. It shouldn't be, but it's also very nice to go home with a new t-shirt, a raffled gift, or god knows what else.
    Since many User Groups are supported by Salesforce or Vendors from the eco-system, there are many times little gifts you may come home with.
    Don't tell anyone I told you about it.
    It's a secret.

You had me at '7', but how do I join?
Lucky for you (and me and everyone really) Salesforce provides an easy place to find information about most of the User Groups that register with the company.
All you have to do is click here and search the User Groups by Region section on the left pane.
It really is as easy as that!
Join the online community, feel free to introduce yourself, or just follow the announcements to learn about the next local meeting.

Did you join a group recently?
Did you find this article helpful or inspirational?
I'd love to hear your story in the comments!

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