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.
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.
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.
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.
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