I’ve had a wild and wonderful ride on my Salesforce journey, from Salesforce novice to admin, business analyst to chief information officer (CIO) of a Salesforce partner business, and now Tableau solution engineer. It wasn’t easy, but I wouldn’t change anything, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
Here are my seven key tips for building a successful and rewarding Salesforce career.
1. Prepare, prepare, prepare–your career depends on it
Luck is simply the prepared person meeting the right opportunity. The time to begin learning is not when a potential opening arises–the time is now!
We have access to a wide variety of quality, free Salesforce learning tools, including:
- Trailhead — Salesforce’s free online learning platform
A few of the modules and trails I’ve found helpful in my learning journey are the Automate Your Business Processes with Salesforce Flow trail and Einstein Discovery Analysis and Insights and Tableau CRM App Design modules.
- Salesforce learning on YouTube
Visit the Let’s Play Salesforce channel to check out the latest Salesforce tutorials, interviews, and best-practice videos, and browse Tableau Tim’s channel for in-depth Tableau tutorials.
- Trailblazer Community
Explore your interests and join groups to meet and collaborate with Trailblazers from anywhere. Groups like CRM Analytics (fka Tableau CRM), Admin Trailblazers, and Release Readiness Trailblazers have been useful in my journey.
Use these resources to jump-start your Salesforce learning journey and create your career roadmap. I even created a Beginner’s trailmix for newbies to help you get started with Salesforce basics!
2. Do what you love
Most people learn and grow the fastest when they’re doing something they love. With the Salesforce Platform, you have so many choices for a career path, including roles like Salesforce Developer, Consultant, and Business Analyst, as well as careers in sales and marketing.
So play to your strengths. Dive into the Salesforce technology, find what you enjoy, and become great at it. On my journey, I went from implementing Financial Services Cloud, to building and deploying automated processes in Salesforce using a third-party Salesforce app, to marketing automation in Pardot.
I enjoyed every single project. However, it wasn’t until I got involved in building CRM Analytics (then Einstein Analytics) that I found my sweet spot. After that, I dove into data analytics and machine learning. Now, I get to work with this technology every day at Tableau.
So think about the aspects of technology or business you love. For example, what excites you about getting up in the morning and going to work or studying? What makes you curious? Use your answers to these questions to focus your energy and build a Salesforce career.
3. Take calculated risks
The road to success involves some risk, fear, and uncertainty. However, the payback is worth it–including growth, resilience, satisfaction, accomplishment, and victory. I made three key choices that led me to where I am today:
- Took my first Salesforce implementation role before I knew what Salesforce was
- Co-founded a Salesforce partner business when I had only 18 months of Salesforce experience
- Left that business and moved to Tableau as a solution engineer
All three of these were scary choices! They involved significant risk. But as I look back, I see that they were pivotal. I had to take chances to move forward and grow upward.
4. Brand up
When it comes to being top of mind for a suitable opportunity, you need to become known for your skills, experience, achievements, and values. LinkedIn is the optimal place to share this information—for many, it’s their online resume. It’s also an excellent platform for building and broadcasting your brand.
For inspiration and guidance on building your brand, follow industry thought leaders who inspire you on LinkedIn to see how they do it. Borrow branding concepts on how they’ve built their profiles, including the types of content they create and share.
One of my favorite thought leaders is Dr. Travis Bradberry, chief people scientist at LEADx—a platform that provides artificial intelligence (AI)-powered, next-generation leadership enablement. His posts on key topics like leadership and emotional intelligence continue to inspire and motivate me to build my brand.
The key to branding is to create quality content consistently and persistently. So get started, analyze the response to your content, and iterate/improve.
5. Give more than you get
The Trailblazer Community loves to help. Your fellow Trailblazers are there to answer your questions, guide you to resources, and so much more. When I began to experience some early success in my Salesforce journey, I started to share my story online to try and inspire others who were looking to blaze trails using this technology.
The response was incredible. I not only received a mountain of encouragement but was also a recipient of the infamous Golden Hoodie. Wow!
Connecting with the Trailblazer Community also means adopting Salesforce core values: Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, Equality, and Sustainability. Successful Trailblazers embrace and embody these values both in their work and in their interactions within the Salesforce ecosystem and Trailblazer Community.
6. Get strategic with your network
I don’t believe I would have the role I do today had I not built a strategic Salesforce network. How can you network strategically? Here are three ideas:
- Attend Salesforce events, such as the World Tour series.
World Tour events are both live and virtual around the globe, where you can discover new ways to connect with customers, dive into the latest innovations, and get together with fellow Trailblazers. And, of course, there’s Dreamforce—the annual Salesforce event that brings together the global community for learning, fun, community building, and philanthropy.
- Join Trailblazer Connect.
Learn in-demand skills, earn resume-worthy credentials, and connect to opportunities—from mentorship to employment.
- Build your Salesforce network.
Use platforms like Trailblazer.me and LinkedIn to connect with purpose. For example, early in my journey, I started following thought leaders in analytics and shared relevant articles that they had posted to my network.
My first Salesforce role was a 90-day contract to implement Financial Services Cloud. I went to work straight away, building a network I hoped to draw from when it came time to find a new Salesforce role. Even though I ended up staying for 18 months to work on more projects within the role, I was so glad I took the time to create solid connections within the ecosystem.
7. Connect with a mentor
My virtual mentor and friend, Zac Otero, inspired and encouraged me when I needed it the most. After working several low-wage jobs, including at a popcorn factory, grocery warehouse, and packing plant, he knew he needed to earn more after his son was born.
When his cousin introduced him to Salesforce, Zac downloaded Salesforce training sessions to his phone and listened to them while he worked. After a year of studying, he took his first certification exam… and failed (remember, don’t let fear of failure stop you).
Motivating himself after the setback was difficult, but he doubled down and earned his certification. When the plant he was working at closed, he was out of a job. But he heard about an open Salesforce Administrator role from his Salesforce Community Group, and one of the members helped him line up an interview. Zac got the job!
Zac’s story of perseverance began circulating—so much so that it caught the eye of top Salesforce executives. As a result, he received the very first Golden Hoodie, recognizing him as a member of the community who’s been innovative and inspirational.
So find a mentor—someone who inspires, encourages, and pushes you to be the very best you can be.
You got this–keep going and stay curious
The ability to persist and persevere through troubles, failures, obstacles, weariness, doubts, and criticisms is essential to building a successful Salesforce career.
My first 6 months as a novice Salesforce Administrator/implementer were utterly terrifying. The project was so completely overwhelming that I regularly questioned if I should have taken the role in the first place. Yet, I persevered, and I’m extremely glad that I did!
Opportunities for growth and progress on your career journey never have to stop. I do these key activities to continue to fuel my curiosity and growth:
- Read books, blogs, tweets, and posts to keep investigating, questioning, and analyzing. Some of my favorite blogs for Salesforce learning and growth are SalesforceBen and SFDC99.
- Listen to inspirational and educational podcasts. I enjoy listening to The Tim Ferris Show and How I Built This–both podcasts share inspiring stories about organizations and individuals who’ve been successful in their fields.
- Learn something challenging. Early in my career journey, I challenged myself by learning machine learning and AI for a client.
- Spend time with people who know things that you don’t. For example, I like to hang out with colleagues who work in marketing and operations and pick their brains!
No matter where you are in your Salesforce journey, keep going and stay curious along the way.