Don't Sink—Swim in the Salesforce Ecosystem
You may have heard the term “sink or swim” before. It is usually referring to a person being forced to succeed at something through their own efforts. It’s a popular phrase when describing someone’s environment and mindset when entering a new job or position at work. The phrase also carries the weight that failure has some real consequences.
In either case, the imagery is powerful: you are tossed into the deep waters with no lifeline and no one to help you. In this situation, you are forced to struggle and swim, or sink and fail.
Learning Salesforce can feel like being tossed into the deep waters like this. This can be especially true when you’re looking at the incoming waves for the first time. There is a vast ocean of words, terms, concepts, and processes to learn. It can be overwhelming and a bit frightening. Even for someone who had the chance to dip their toes into the waters and create some familiarity, it can be intimidating.
However, learning Salesforce doesn’t have to be a sink or swim situation. Instead of struggling to stay afloat by yourself, there are resources and support out there that will make the experience much better.
Below are some of the best resources that will help you not sink, but rather learn and swim in the Salesforce ecosystem. They are categorized for those newer to Salesforce, and then for those who may be more advanced in their journey.
Newer User- Let’s start doggy paddling!
A search in Google for Salesforce resources may give you a ton of results, but here are some we’ve found to be a lifesaver to those starting out. They are split into a few categories so you have some options to dive into.
1.) Learning Platform
One of the most consistent recommendations on where to start would be Salesforce’s free learning platform called Trailhead.
Trailhead is a great starting point for when you’re not entirely sure where to begin. The beauty of the platform is that it has guided learning paths (trails) starting from the beginner level, and is filterable by product type, role, and even tags. When you get comfortable, you can start creating your own custom Trailmixes, which lets you set your own trails, lesson modules, and projects together. Best of all, this can all be done on your own time and schedule.
Blogs are a great way to get the latest news and features on Salesforce. They can provide more detail on specific topics that you may be interested in, and usually have easy to digest content. You can also get a chance to read content from experts in the field, and see how it applies to your own situation.
Salesforce Ben is a popular blog for this reason, and can really start to help you grow your knowledge in different areas.
The Drip is for all things marketing automation, focusing on Pardot and Marketing Cloud. Take advantage of the “Popular Posts” section on the homepage to see what others enjoy reading as well.
A popular water safety tip is to never swim alone. This holds true even on the topic of learning Salesforce, where joining a community has a number of tangible benefits.
The Trailblazer Community is an example of a community where you can get answers to questions that a learning module may not be able to provide. You can communicate and connect with other Salesforce users by joining different groups within the community. The Trailblazer Community is an ideal place to see new ideas, and to be inspired by others.
The Power of Us Hub is similar to the Trailblazer community, but specific to the nonprofit Salesforce.org sector. Unlike the other resources mentioned so far, you will need a login to access this information as it's more of a place for Salesforce partners and customers. This site will be a valuable resource if you need information tailored to the nonprofit space.
4.) Video Channels
Reading about how to swim may give you a ton of details and an idea of what it looks like in real life, but seeing something demonstrated in front of you is a different experience altogether. Similarly, videos may be what you need to understand a process or feature, and we find videos about Salesforce to be a useful tool for visual learners.
Salesforce Youtube is a channel with a variety of content such as demos, how-to’s, webinars, and events. A benefit to watching a video on a topic is that it usually tells a story, and focuses on product benefits rather than a technical set up.
After you spend some time marinating in the above resources, you should start to feel better about keeping your head above water. But let’s go further than that. Let’s start swimming, and better yet, swim towards a goal in mind! Let’s take a look at some resources for those moving past the beginner stage.
Experienced User- Let’s start freestyling!
Great! Now it’s not about survival, and you may be looking for something that could help expand your role in your organization. Whether that’s as a Salesforce admin, developer, or other roles, there are still lots of useful resources out there that can help focus your skillset, and are customized to what you’re trying to accomplish.
1.) Learning Platform
Without sounding like a broken record, Salesforce’s Trailhead continues to be an essential resource as you progress. You have the option of going for specific certifications, or even exploring the requirements and skills needed for a Salesforce career path. You can learn wide beyond your usual line of study, or as deep as you would like.
Reading about the latest news and trends continues to be important, but now you may want to be more efficient with your time. You may not remember to visit your favorite blog when your Inbox starts filling up each week. Let us suggest a slight alternative, newsletters.
Delivered either weekly or monthly, newsletters can keep you up to date with relevant news or updates to products, without you having to search for them yourself.
Pub Crawl is one such newsletter we like in-house, primarily because it traverses the Power of Us Hub content for us in one neat little email. That’s less time-investment needed to stay on-top of what’s going on in the Salesforce ecosystem.
We polled some internal members at Idealist Consulting, and the results are in: staying plugged in to different communities is still a preferred practice, and some users enjoy even greater connectivity through services like Slack or Discord.
Think of Slack and Discord communities like the different groups within the Trailblazer community, but utilizing a robust communication platform that lets you instantly connect and collaborate with others in the same field. Different channels within the groups lets you further focus the discussion to specific topics of interest. Some groups may be private and require an existing member to invite you in, while others may be open to join once you find them.
Here are our picks for a Salesforce Slack and Discord group to get started!
Slack: Ohana Slack – This is an extremely active Slack group that can answer questions in a very timely fashion, and continues to be a space to share about Salesforce products.
Discord: SFXD – Similar to Ohana Slack, this is a large and active group full of discussions and Salesforce content.
4.) Video Channels
As you’re skilling up, you may find it more helpful to go to a Youtube channel dedicated more to Salesforce experts.
Salesforce Apex Hours is one such channel. Don’t get fooled by the name - it’s not a channel dedicated solely to the programming language Apex (or the popular videogame), and actually covers a multitude of other topics in addition.
For example, this channel has a popular tutorial series that guides you through Salesforce Admin or Developer through different video sessions.
These examples are some of the go-to resources we find valuable at Idealist Consulting. We know that navigating through the Salesforce ecosystem can be challenging, even with these resources at hand.
If you’d like additional support beyond what we’ve covered here or have a Salesforce implementation/optimization project you need help with, our team at Idealist Consulting is here to swim beside you.