25 January 2018 - And I'm back!

It’s still January so I'm going to start this post by saying Happy New Year! There, I said it. I’m back with a bang with all things Salesforce and the past few weeks have seen me attend no less than 3 User Groups and a product roadmap event. 

A new User Group came into life, and it arrived with with arms open and with a touchy feely name. HUG. That’s right, the Hampshire User Group. Lead by the very lovely Sean Dukes, I offered to give a helping hand for the inaugural event in Winchester with a bit of organisational advice and a talk about the Community to kick off the night. Sean has been a long standing member of the London Admins Group so had a good idea on how these things go and even took some inspiration from us, although maybe not the timings. We at London Admins are more relaxed with our timings, allowing our very social bunch to mingle at every opportunity, in between the content.

Running a User Group takes organisation and the occasional nerves of steel. It’s not for the faint hearted as you have to think about everything, location, sponsors, content, food and drink to name just some aspects. Doing this again and again on a regular basis can bring familiarity but it also brings its challenges to keep the content fresh and give your members a reason to turn up each time. Building a solid membership base takes time and Sean is already well on the way with HUG. 

The first HUG brought a cosy gathering of 22 shiny new members which is good going for the inaugural event. Some were User Group regulars, having attended others in the past. The rest were new to the User Group format and it’s these people that you want to encourage. They are the ones who took a leap to come out on a cold January evening to see what this User Group thing was about. Some came on their own, others with a colleague for support. But everyone came to learn and network. Sean put on a great show for the evening and really showed his leader colours. I'm sure HUG will grow in strength over the coming gatherings. 

The following week it was the London Admins turn to dust ourselves off and come out fighting against the cold, soggy January weather. Frankly this is really not the time of year to be on a diet or alcohol free. I'd rather be cuddling a Cognac than crunching on a carrot to get through these dark times. Fortunately, most of our sociable bunch also have the same thinking so in addition to our amazing content and superstar speakers we also partook in a glass or some of wine and munched on cupcakes. It was rumoured that we'd hit the red wine quota before the first speaker was due to start. We're an agile bunch so me moved onto the white. 

This month's talks we heard how to prepare and deliver training. This is often an unloved topic during an implementation so it was good to get some handy tips from Heather MacEwan. We then had a real life story from Computer Futures on their Salesforce project, with lessons learnt by Daniel McEndoo. We should have more of these. And then to finish up the evening and take us firmly into the after show pub we heard from Gemma and Chris Emmett on their journey through certifications. True grit, sheer bloody determination and team work is the fuel behind this energy force. Go get 'em. 

Interspersed the User Group evenings was an invitation from Salesforce to attend a Product Roadmap event at a fancy hotel. The session hosted no more than 25 customers from the UK and was also attended by many of their product managers. The aim was to talk about what Salesforce is planning for product innovation and to illicit our feedback. It was a really informative session and while I'd love to share the content I am under NDA. What I do appreciate from these type of meetings is that Salesforce genuinely wants to know what we think and I certainly felt that I had an opportunity to help shape the development direction with the feedback given. Lets not forget, their continued success can be influenced by our success of using the platform every day. 

That evening I headed over the to the Tower for a dose of WIT. The Women in Tech User Group likes to tackle different subject areas from the more standard system based ones at Admins, and this offers a good life balance. While it is a majority female crowd, men are welcome and we do get some attending. The topic of the evening was about trying to understand the crazy lady inside and offering tips on how to manage her. Insightful stuff. 

It just shows that being an active member of the Salesforce community can offer learning and different insights that you may not get to expose yourself to on a regular basis. We're on this planet for a long time (hopefully) and just because we have left school it doesn't mean that school has to leave us. Everyday is a school day. 


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