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Trailblazer Community: Support Users, Share Ideas & Make Friends

The Trailblazer Community: Supporting Users, Sharing Ideas, and Making Friends

Belgium’s Salesforce MVP (Most Valued Professional) reveals the importance and benefits of the Trailblazer Community.

With 11 million members of 1,300 groups across 90 countries, there’s a vast and growing community out there. A community of diverse yet like-minded people who are:

  • Embracing low-code development
  • Helping each other achieve more
  • Making a difference to the organisations where they work

It’s the Salesforce Trailblazer Community.

We spoke to Jan Vandevelde – BENL Practice Manager, Architecture at Wipro Ltd, founder of the Belgian Salesforce Admin Group, and Belgium’s Salesforce MVP (Most Valued Professional) – to find out about how the community benefits its members and the Salesforce ecosystem.

In the new Valoir survey of Trailblazer Community members, three in five participants said the community helped them get a new job or promotion. Once in a Salesforce-related role, 80% say Community engagement has helped them deliver success at their company.

What is the Trailblazer Community?

The Trailblazer Community is an all-encompassing, vibrant user group for anyone that’s interested in learning about Salesforce. From existing users, admins and architects to potential customers, the community is for anyone interested in rolling it out.

It’s a great platform for solving problems, sharing knowledge, and learning new tricks and techniques. When you post a question, you don’t just get a single point of view. You get a second, third, and even tenth point of view, so you can pick the solution that’s most helpful and relevant to your business needs.

Salesforce is great at providing product guides, research, and reports, and of course, Trailhead is an amazing free online learning tool, but these are all static. The Community is a dynamic, thriving life force that’s like the cherry on the top!

Why is the community important to Salesforce and its ecosystem?

I think it sums up the Salesforce Ohana culture: it’s diverse, open, honest, and about helping each other achieve their potential. The Salesforce team uses it as a channel to communicate with the wider ecosystem and support its customers, prospects, partners, and fans.

It gives Salesforce’s product managers sight of what users are talking about, so they can post ideas and even get ideas for future releases.

How has the community helped you?

I started out as a Salesforce superuser at a waste management company before moving to the technical side. When I posed a new idea, I found the internal development team, at my company, was often coming back to me to say no, but they never clarified whether it was because they didn’t have the time or that it just wasn’t possible.

By exploring the Community and asking questions, I was able to come back to them with how it could work and make it happen. This was my first step in falling for Salesforce!

When I finally made the move from business to IT, I was suddenly surrounded by a team that already had years of experience, and I was determined to catch up. The Community helped me achieve a steep learning curve – it helped me solve problems, learn additional skills, and even make new friends.

Tell us about the Community user group you started

I was always so inspired by the US-based groups that met up to socialise and learn from each other, and I wanted that too. This was back in 2012, and there weren’t any active face-to-face communities in Benelux at the time. So, I started one myself together with Samuel Derycke (former MVP). There were only five of us at the time – now there’s up to 300!

We meet bi-monthly and it’s great fun to organise and attend. We cover all sorts of themes and often have guest speakers giving presentations – from customers, partners, or Salesforce itself. They might cover a particular Salesforce functionality, an AppExchange solution, or inspiring customer success stories. We sometimes just meet up to do Trailhead badges over breakfast on a Saturday. You’re welcome to join us anytime!

What is an MVP and how did you become one?

The MVP programme is run by Salesforce to recognise people who have made a significant contribution to the Community. It’s the Community itself that selects nominees, and then existing MVPs and the Salesforce team review your contributions to the Community and vote accordingly.

As an MVP, you get certification vouchers and are invited to provide direct input to the product development team. I was selected based on the user group that I co-founded, my blog posts, and tutorials – one of which has even made it into official Salesforce training. I didn’t create them to become MVP, but it is nice to know that people have found value in them.

Why should others become a member of the Salesforce community?

It’s estimated that the Salesforce ecosystem will create 7,400 new jobs and generate €2.9 billion in Belgium by 2024 – so it’s worth being part of it! The community offers knowledge, experience, and friends. But it shouldn’t just be about what you can get out of it – it’s also about giving back. I’ve learned that by responding to others’ questions, I can learn loads myself. I’d recommend it to anyone.

Join the Trailblazer community and find out more about local user groups.

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