I work in IT and my field of specialty is a CRM called Salesforce. I have a business background and don’t consider myself super techy but I have excelled in this platform and am now recognised as a Salesforce MVP, a title that is given to only a few hundred people in the world.
How I achieved this level of recognition wasn’t an overnight thing, but after many years of working on my level of knowledge and experience and my personal brand. It was also largely due to getting involved in a community. Doing so can help grow your confidence, build your presentation skills, extend your friend network, and move you up the career ladder.
Salesforce’s community, for instance, is a movement where people who work in the ecosystem can connect and talk all things Salesforce. We talk about the platform and its new features but the community is more than just that. It’s a place for sharing – everything.
I got involved with my local Admin group in late 2014 as it was kicking off and never looked back. At the time I wasn’t happy in my job and was questioning my whole career outlook. My confidence was at rock bottom. Attending this monthly group allowed me to meet other people, particularly other women, who also worked in similar roles to me. I was able to share with them my experiences with Salesforce implementations and I soon learnt that I did have knowledge and experience that others valued. My confidence started to recover.
Regular attendance at these meetings allowed me to recognise names and faces and build friendships with other members. I looked forward to going each month as it became a social, learning, networking, and fun environment. In addition, my knowledge of the platform grew as there would be regular feature updates and demos, which in turn helped with my day job.
Sharing was one of the key factors of the community. Sharing your experiences of implementations – the good and the bad. Sharing what you have built on the platform to show others the art of the possible. Sharing was personal and empowering.
I started to contribute to the meetings, either via commenting on demos and presentations or delivering presentations myself to the audience. Presenting in front of an audience also helps to build your confidence, your overall presentation skills, and your ability to work a room.
1.5 years after joining this community I was asked to become a leader which gave me additional responsibilities outside of work such as arranging the meetings, finding sponsors, venues, managing content and speakers, and organising catering and facilities. I could now add event management to my skill list.
The Salesforce community also runs community conferences, and I got involved with them too, firstly as a speaker at multiple international events and then as a co-organiser for a London version. Salesforce manages its own conferences, namely World tours and Dreamforce and I have spoken at multiple. My stage presence grew and I was becoming better known as a speaker whose subjects mastered mostly Project Management, Change Management, and Team Management.
I extended my sharing to writing a blog about all things Salesforce delivery, which I continue today. I became a go-to person for commentary for other business channels in the Salesforce ecosystem and was asked to be a guest on podcasts and interviews. I also produced a course on Udemy on Delivering Successful Salesforce Projects.
With fingers in many pies of communication– community group, conferences, blog, podcasts, interviews, written commentary, and a Udemy course– I am a recognised face in the industry and a person who people will reach out to for guidance. It’s my network that I have built up over the years, my experience and ability to share that awarded me Salesforce MVP and it all started with taking a leap and stepping into a Community Group meeting.
Being a part of this community has helped me with my own career journey. It raised my profile, my confidence, my experience and knowledge of the platform. I am considered for senior roles in the industry which helps to raise my personal brand.
There is an additional benefit of being part of the community and it is the personal side it offers. I have made lots of friends and we have a strong support network. This has been particularly important for me this year as I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in April. The continued support I have gained throughout my treatment journey from the wider Salesforce Community has been invaluable. They have been with me every step and to know that there is a group of people cheering you on is so powerful.
In the world of IT, there are many communities; there might be one that suits your industry or a generic Women in Tech option. I encourage you to hunt one out and join it. Start networking and see what you can learn and share with others. Be open to new relationships as they may support you in tough times too. Sharing is the key. It will open up career and friendship possibilities for you.