Salesforce skills can serve both your company and community. Read how one Trailblazer used his knowledge of Salesforce to volunteer and give back to local nonprofits.
“I got the call at 10 a.m. where we talked about what we could do. By 1 p.m., we had spun up the org and were building out the flows,” Justin Smith recalls, sharing how he created a service command center in three days for local nonprofits. Building it turned out to be the easy part. Making it work for volunteers who: 1. have never used Salesforce before, and 2. have never worked as contact center agents before turned out to be trickier.
Combining professional skills with giving back
Smith works in IT for SunCommon, a solar solutions provider, and certified B-Corp that operates in Vermont and New York. As COVID-19 spread across the world, construction projects were put on hold, and Smith found himself with extra time on his hands. That’s when a colleague approached him with a volunteer project: build a call center for a nonprofit collaborative.
The call center needed to act as mission control. It needed to be a place where the nonprofits could receive, organize, and fulfill requests fast. Smith explains, “The nonprofits were all there; the volunteers were there. They wanted to help; people needed help. How do we connect all these things together?”
"How it came together so quickly was the highlight. To go from completely nothing to a full contact center with Amazon Connect capabilities, calling, voice, and messaging integration…we just switched it on."
With so many unknowns about the project — like the volunteers themselves, or the number of calls they would receive — Smith focused on two things he knew would serve the project well: the abilities to scale and build fast. They soon discovered that the Salesforce Care solution would get them 90% of the way there in terms of what they needed. Within three days the solution was built and volunteers were getting trained.
From seeking answers to sharing them
In a parallel timeline, Smith might have been an accountant, having first studied international business in college before switching to IT. Like many Trailblazers, his first experience with Salesforce was when a company’s sales leadership decided to implement it. Smith learned the platform on the fly. However, it netted great results: Salesforce ended up becoming the cornerstone of the company and was used to power nearly everything from communities to service. “It became what we used to run our company. And I’ve done that at two other companies now,” he says.
But Smith didn’t learn how to create robust systems, processes, and functionality overnight. His first instinct was to seek help from people locally who used Salesforce; unfortunately, he didn’t know any. Instead, he turned to the Trailblazer Community to find answers from knowledgeable users. As he grew and learned, he began contributing answers himself, paying the favor forward. To date, he’s contributed nearly 700 answers to questions about the platform and achieved 13 certifications over the years.
Advice for building a career in the Salesforce ecosystem
“The thing I tell people about the most is to get the Developer’s Edition. There’s Trailhead [to learn from], but get and try out the Developer edition. It’s free forever and has almost everything you’ll ever want to play with.”
At TrailheaDX ‘20, Smith became the newest owner of a Golden Hoodie. We gift them as a ‘thank you’ to Trailblazers who share their stories of doing well and doing good in their careers, companies, and communities. To those who want to start or grow their careers within our ecosystem, he shares some tips:
- Get a developer org. It’s free and you can start playing with it immediately.
- Take a hands-on approach. Dive into the platform and try things. When a new product or feature launches, figure out what you can do with it and how you can use it.
- Find problems to solve. There’s always something that can be improved with technology, whether it’s from their personal or professional lives. Figure out how to solve the problem in Salesforce.
- Keep building on what you’ve done. You can keep enhancing and refining what you’ve built using other technologies.