First, let’s get this out of the way: There is no economic upside to participating in the Salesforce Community. There is a benefit of becoming recognized as an authority in your area of specialty, but this is not a ‘get rich quick’ approach. New clients might contact you as a result of your Community activity, but it will be because you are seen as an expert in an area they need assistance with. To become known as an expert takes time, energy, and commitment. If your goal is to attract new customers or clients, this is not the right place. If you want to become a better Salesforce professional, this is exactly the right place.
Community contributions come in different styles:
Most importantly, it’s the members who ask a question who truly make the Community successful. These Admins and Users are facing real-world challenges and are just trying to be successful in their roles. If they chose to solve their problems on their own, or gave up and said “can’t be done”, the rest of us would never know what they were facing, be able to learn from them, or even find out about Salesforce features we haven’t needed in our own orgs. In fact, I think they should get more recognition than they currently do. It takes confidence to admit “I don’t know how to do this”. And to admit that to a global audience is amazing. (You’ll notice I have never posted a single Question — and it’s not because I think I know everything).
There are 2 ways to contribute Answers, based on your reason for participating — one good, and one not so good. To just “get on the Top 15” which means your picture is on the Community home page, you will need to post ALOT of questions/answers (I post an average of 650 answers a month). There are Community members who get onto the “Top 15” by posting replies such as ‘No you can’t’, ‘I agree’, ‘Try a report’, ‘Workflows’. Yes, they eventually get onto the Top 15 (it still takes hours each month), but the rest of the Community starts to recognize the lack of value to their posts. As you can imagine, this does not help their reputation and doesn’t add anything to the Community either.
On the other hand, you can let the “Top 15” take care of itself (but definitely pat yourself on the back if you get your picture on the home page!), and participate with the goal of helping other people learn what you already know; learning new things about the platform we all work with; and collaborating with peers around the world to solve implementation problems that have never been solved before. It is much more beneficial to the Community, and therefore to each of us, to answer fewer questions but answer them thoroughly.
Everyone can benefit from Community participation. The legendary SteveMo has been a Salesforce user for a hundred years, is universally acclaimed an expert, and continues to offer extremely valuable advice and guidance. However, Steve openly admits to still learning something new every week, and that there are Salesforce features and functionality he doesn’t know about. We are all in the same camp: there is always something someone is doing, or wants to do, that provides a new insight on a feature area we haven’t used before (sometimes I haven’t even heard of the feature). For me personally, I have learned just as much (if not more) than I’ve shared by being part of the Community.
When I don’t know the answer to a question, I go and experiment, and learn, and then figure out how to describe what I’ve just learned in my answer. Sometimes, I can only figure out part of the answer. I add my suggestion to those already offered, and between all the responses, a solution emerges.
In addition to the Salesforce Community, there is also developerforce.com that provides a huge library of technical documentation, code samples, and forums dedicated to the programming, supporting technologies, and integrated platforms and features. The participants on these forums are the real heavy hitters when it comes to solving Salesforce-related programming problems or implementing code-based custom functionality. For technical programming/architect professionals, these forums provide very specialized and detailed discussions; and a chance to interact with the best in the world.
Membership is free for anyone in either (or both) the Salesforce Community or developerforce.com.
So, does it make sense to participate? Yes. Nowhere else can you experience the challenges of Admins and Users in thousands of different orgs, industries, company sizes, and cultures; and learn how to solve those challenges?
How you participate will depend on what you want to get from the experience.
- If you want to be a better Admin or more effective User, post your Questions. The discussion helps us all.
- If you want to share your experience with specific Salesforce features, reply to those Questions.
- If you want to learn about Salesforce features, review previous posts, then ask more Questions.
- If you just want your name on the ‘Top 15″ – post anything you like. You’ll get there, but you won’t be helping anyone — even yourself.
With over 1 million members, the Salesforce Community can definitely benefit from your skills and experiences. Someone out there is currently facing a problem you’ve already solved. Someone out there wants to be able to share their solution to a problem you are facing today. Spend an hour a month (15 minutes a week), learning from others and sharing your experience. Help grow our Community while you are helping yourself.
Salesforce Community: http://success.salesforce.com
Developer Force: http://developer.force.com