Category: Personal

These posts all deal with myself or the site as a whole.

On the Trail to TrailheaDX

Look at you, all full of pep, spunk, and other synonyms. You are a week away from going to TrailheaDX, the Salesforce conference dedicated to developers. Are you all ready? Do you know what ready is? I sure didn’t, so I decided to do some research and share the fruits of my labor. Let’s run through what to do to make the most out of your trip.

Packing away

Packing smart

Packing is probably the first thing most of you thought of when you thought of preparation for the conference. It’s the same thing you do any time you have a trip that lasts more than a day. The key, however, is to pack smart and that is what we are here to do.

Let’s talk fashion, baby. What we want, at the core of our clothing choices, is “practical comfort.” Start with your shoes; you aren’t some houseplant, you are going to be all over the place going to sessions, meeting people, and snapping some sick selfies #ImStillCool. Make your shoe choice comfortable, broken in, and clean. Your legs and feet will hate you for your most stylish loafers or high heals, but you won’t be making many friends with your well-worn gym shoes either. Carry that thought through the rest of your clothing choices. Pants and tops should be comfortable to wear while still being nice enough to network in. The weather averages for this time of year swing between high 40s to low 60s, so keep personal tolerances in mind.

Now that you have all your clothes ready, time to talk tech. The laptop and power cord are obvious, as is the phone and charger, but wait, that’s not all. If you plan on squeezing as much out of trailhead as possible, you will want a portable battery pack to keep your phone going throughout the day. Make sure it has the ports you need for the gear you have. If you have a laptop that can run off USB-C, your battery pack can pull double duty running that as well. Keep in mind, though, that you should try to keep your pack below 100Wh. Generally this amounts to about a 27000mAh battery. If you really need more juice ( I’m looking at you, person with a MacBook, Switch, and a phone) you can get pre approval for packs up to 160Wh but I usually try to just go with the path of least resistance.

That’s it, for this section at least, right? Ha, I’m still writing, so open that suitcase back up. Take a look: you have your clothing, tech, and some essentials like your toothpaste, toothbrush, hair brush, deodorant, etc. all neatly tucked away. You have made maximum usage of your available space and couldn’t fit a thing more. In any normal circumstance I would give you a high five, but this time you’re wrong. Lean in closely and I shall whisper tales of vendor swag. Wonderful branded treasures await you and you need a place to put them on the return trip. Nobody wants to choose between returning with their socks or their Astro plush.

Planning your days

You have a lot to do and so much to see. In fact, you have too much. There is just too much, more than you can possibly experience in such a short time. There are over 150 sessions to cram into two days so you’re going to have to carefully plan. If you are a paper-and-pen sort, you can use the online schedule to draft up your days. If you want some help, use the Salesforce Events app (available on Play Store and iTunes). You can log in with your registration ID and last name. Make sure the right event is selected, there could be multiple events happening around the same time.

If you are going as a group, you can experience some of the event surreptitiously. Get together as a group and see if you can come to an agreement dividing people among different sessions in the same time slot. Don’t be a tyrant about it; make sure your group members are cool with their choices and are OK taking notes during their sessions. At some point, trade notes and thoughts with each other.

Networking, but like… with people

Do you plan on mechanically going from talk to talk to talk? Of course not! This will be a few days surrounded by your peers so you better get ready to rub elbows. You can actually do some prep work here. What sort of social media presence do you have, could it use some cleaning up?

  • LinkedIn – Keep things professional here. Stick to the facts and details pertaining to your career and industry. Make your posts regular and informative.
  • Twitter – You can get a bit more personal here but try to mind your audience. Have an appropriate picture and header image.
  • Trailhead – Earn some badges, get some points, raise your rank. This can help people see what you are interested in when it comes to Salesforce. A quick note about the rank: don’t be weird about it. Everyone moves at their own pace, a higher or lower rank does not intrinsically mean anything.
  • Facebook – Short answer: no. Long answer: Most people use facebook for their most personal interactions. Here is where you post the pics of you doing some crazy stuff, the inside jokes with your BFFs, and tons of family talk. Ask yourself, “Is there anything I don’t want a potential coworker seeing?” Maybe your trailhead connections can graduate to this level of closeness but let’s not start here.

Think about getting some business cards with your social media urls and handles on it. You can put a phone number on it if you want, but that sounds like a good way to end up with telemarketers.

Maintaining the facade of health

Jeez, one day into the conference and you look like heck. What went wrong? Have you been eating well? As a self professed carb-ivore, I could live on rolls and sweets but that would not leave me feeling well after a while. You may be in a new place, but try to keep your eating as normal as you can. How about sleep? The first day of the conference can theoretically last from 8AM to 11:30PM. Add in some jet lag and you have a recipe for foggy head and eye bags. You can’t control everything but try to get a solid block of sleep while seeking out some peace and quiet throughout the conference. You can only run wide open for so long, so take some time to slow down. Let’s also make sure that knowledge and swag are the only things we bring home. Pack or pickup a thing of hand sanitizer and remember to actually use it.

Well now what

You can’t stay forever, whether you participated just the conference or the bootcamp as well, eventually you will return back from whence you came. However, that doesn’t have to be the end of your TralheaDX experience. If your company sent you, consider hosting a presentation of your own! Consider a best-of, or a focus on something you found interesting. If you have the time and the place, write up a blog post for others to enjoy your take on things. Comb through your contacts and connect with the people you met. Head to social media and thank the presenters for their time and talent. If there was a presentation you really wanted to see but it conflicted with a presentation you really had to see, wait for the TrailheaDX playlist to pop up on youtube.

On your way

Now you look ready to go. You know how to pack to keep your sanity and your merch. You have an idea for what you are going to see and when. You have an idea for how to keep healthy out on the conference floor. You have a game plan for when you come back, bursting with sage-like knowledge. I’d say you are ready to hit the trail!

How to Involve Yourself with Salesforce (Outside of Salesforce)

If you want to get involved in the Salesforce community, the default answer is usually the forums. It isn’t a bad answer, but it isn’t a complete one either.  I can tell by the way that you are reading a third sentence into this blog post that you are a person who wants more. Reading this fourth sentence tells me you’re ready for more. You see, there is a wealth of opportunities to interact and get involved in ways that help yourself and others around you. Ways that can cater to your skills or help you develop new ones.

Stack Exchange

The most natural way to get involved is through asking and answering questions. Sure, you can do the exact same thing in the forums but the Salesforce Stack Exchange is a highly tuned machine built for that exact purpose. Good questions and answers are rewarded with reputation, and greater reputation affords you greater privilege. There is also a gamification aspect in the form of badges you can earn for certain accomplishments. What that all boils down to is a tremendous gathering of knowledge and skill. Now, full disclosure, I voted and advocated for the existence of the Salesforce Stack Exchange so I may be a bit biased in my fawning, but they earned a lot of good will from me in the past. The quickest way to get started is to sign up and ask a question or give an answer. I would suggest taking a bit more of an observational approach at first. To maintain a high level of quality on the site, the community moderators are swift, and to a newcomer, can seem cold or off putting. Just read through some questions first, checkout the how to ask a question and how to answer a question guides, and just be a good person.

GitHub

Do you have enough skill to do something? Really anything at all? If so then you have what it takes to involve yourself in GitHub. GitHub is a massive development community based around the distributed version control system called Git. OK, you do need the ability to use Git, but there are tools that make it pretty darn easy. Once you are setup with an account and have the required software installed, start digging around for Salesforce projects that interest you. Even if you don’t count yourself that strong a developer, you can still contribute. If you can write good well, maybe documentation is your thing. If you know more than one language with a high proficiency, some projects could benefit from translations. If you have an eye for user experience and interaction, perhaps design is up your alley. Maybe you just want to use the software, that is fine too. You can get involved by writing detailed bug reports if you run into one, or suggesting thoughtful features.

User Groups

These are wonderful options for people who like people. Now while there are regular user groups, I can only talk for developer user groups. Typically there is food and drink with a speech or two. These speeches can cover a wide variety of material and the format can range from informational to a hands on tutorial. This is a great way to meet local developers who share a similar interest and skill set. If you want to get even more involved, give a speech yourself. The research involved in giving a speech often times will strengthen you in that particular area and the speeches themselves can be a great resume booster. Now that I have talked them up, the best place to go to find them is probably (at the time of writing) Meetup.com. Make an account and start scouring your area. Because this is a group activity it does skew towards cities more, but give it a try anyway.

Getting Out There

There are many more ways to get involved with the Salesforce community, I have just highlighted a few that I know and love. A well placed question or answer on Stack Exchange can be a real life saver to someone in need. Participation in Github can allow you to either flex your existing skills or learn new ones. Going to meetups lets you meet and befriend real people in real life. Whatever you do, get out there and get involved.

This post also appears on LinkedIn