When I get the chance to speak with our amazing Salesforce users, one of two things usually comes up - and they are actually opposite sides of the same coin.
Firstly, those in the know, always sing on high about the power and strength of the Salesforce Trailblazer Community.
And then on the flip side, are those who aren't yet aware of the incredible people and resources at their fingertips, but are keen to find out how to get involved.
So I was thrilled to grab some time with two of the shining stars in the UK Trailblazer Community - Kerry Townsend and Francis Pindar - to find out about the upcoming community-led event, London's Calling, and how it has quickly become a flagship occasion for Trailblazers around the UK.
Kerry: I have been working with Salesforce technology since 2006, most lately as a consultant. I have recently hit double digits with my Salesforce Certifications and I am an Associate Manager at Accenture
Francis: I've been working in the Salesforce ecosystem for over 10 years working with end users as well as consultancy partners. I currently run my own Salesforce consultancy company NetStronghold and create eLearning for A Cloud Guru. My first consultancy position was actually working with Kerry!
Kerry: I think I presented at my first user group in 2008, I visibly shook. The community then was not as we know it now. Groups were organised by Salesforce Account Executives, which really helped me to first understand the value of a network.
Over the last five or so years I have worked for organisations based in London, so it has been easier for me to get to the London Admin and Dev meet ups. I have met lots of great people, many of which I consider to be friends.
Last year I became a London Marketing Cloud User Group Leader but London's Calling is still what I am most proud of. In the first year I was responsible for raising the funding. This was really daunting as selling is not my day job and this was an unknown concept in Europe, but I did it and with the rest of the team we put on an awesome event.
Francis: In London we had a Salesforce user group which at the time was being run by Salesforce. I think the first one I went to was in 2009. Then in 2011 Wes Nolte, Anup and a couple of others of us decided to setup a Developer user group. I remember doing a presentation on integrating with Salesforce.
Soon after, we also launched the London Admin user group. What I love about the user groups is the collaboration you get from other users. Salesforce is such a massive tool now, there are always people with ideas and expertise in areas you don't know. User groups are a great place for people to learn, grow and help each other achieve more.
Francis: London’s Calling is a Salesforce Trailblazer Community event run by the community for the community. It’s a one day event that includes six tracks of talks throughout the day with over 40 presenters speaking about everything from Salesforce administration to architecture and more!
Several of us were mulling over setting up a community event in London while sitting in a bar on Pier 39 in San Francisco just before Dreamforce 2015. The World Tours at the time were great but didn't focus enough or celebrate the expertise and knowledge of the local community. The idea was to run the first event in early 2016 and with all great things... it started on a napkin...
Kerry: We have more sessions than ever, spanning 6 room, which is going to make it hard to pick between them, but they will all make it on to the YouTube channel. We also have a couple of surprises on the day so look out for those in person or on social media.
Francis: This year, we have an amazing keynote speaker, Dr Sue Black, OBE. I first heard about Sue during her high profile campaign, Saving Bletchley Park. She’s recently been named on the list of top 50 Women in Tech in Europe and nominated as the 119th most influential women in the world! Over the past 20 years, she has been tirelessly campaigning for recognition and support for women in the tech industry. Sue holds a PhD in Software Engineering and is also an author and educator. I think her talk is one of the things I am most looking forward to at London’s Calling!
Kerry: The official handle is @LDNsCall, which on the day our social media sponsor Cloud Galacticos will be managing for us. I'll also be on the socials posting about the happenings of the event. @Bob_Buzzard is a great community mentor and leader who will most certainly be active throughout the day!
Francis: Good question! Everyone gets an event guide with all the speaker's Twitter and social contacts, and we get a lot of people showing their support for the speakers. Follow the #LDNsCall18 hashtag and you can't go wrong :)
Kerry: I love to attend and speak at these types of events, if it was possible to do it for a living I would! Similar to TED and TEDx events we have a community of people that have ideas worth sharing. These events give the Trailblazer Community a platform.
There are many of us that want to use our knowledge and voice to inspire and raise up others. There is no better way to ensure these events take place and that I have reason to attend, then by being an organiser. Every year we improve and grow, achieving things I never thought was possible. Like many I have episodes of social anxiety and having a role and purpose at an event helps with that.
I am also involved with another community event, Surf Force, it has a different format but through that I have learnt a lot about what we are doing to the oceans and reducing single use plastic, it is so important that we take action on things like this as we have the power to change them.
Francis: Yes it's a huge amount of work! But for me, I love creating something that people can engage with and have fun while collaborating and learning from other like-minded people. Seeing the smiles on their faces, seeing that 'aha' moment as they get something that previously was totally elusive.
I always think of the event in the eyes of the people being involved. The easiest for me is what would make it awesome for the attendees, but also how can the event be amazing for the sponsors? The helpers? And even the caterers and event staff? If any of these groups is not having a good time, then this ripples through the event.
We are always asking ourselves and others how can we make this better next year? It's a bit of a balancing act between changing things up a bit to keep people interested in coming to the next event vs. not breaking the 'winning formula'.
Kerry: Special. British. Unmissable ;)
Francis: Collaboration. Learning. Fun.
Kerry: I recommend the Salesforce Ohana Culture module to get a feel for the culture that has helped these events thrive.
Francis: I helped create a couple of the super badges but they are a little bit involved. I think the Public Speaking badge is one that everyone should do. Even if you're not public speaking at an event, it's a great badge for becoming more confident in speaking, even for those all-important internal company presentations.
I want to extend my thanks to Kerry & Francis for taking the time to answer my questions, and more importantly for everything they do for the Salesforce UK Trailblazer Community. I'm so looking forward to attending my first London's Calling event in a couple of weeks and can't wait to share what I uncover.
Tickets have sold out, but there is a waiting list if you do want to put your name down to attend. Otherwise be sure to follow on-line.
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