Rountables / Circles of Success

Serving Suggestion: Salesforce Roundtable (Circles of Success)

This session is perfect for enabling user group members to get to know each other, or as a backup, just in case a presentation can’t run at the last minute. It requires no preparation time(!)

It’s based on the Salesforce “Circles of Success” format, but we’ve renamed it, as we suspect no one in Europe knows what a Circle is (that said, I’m not totally convinced that people outside of the UK know what a Roundtable is, but you have to try…)

What’s the format
We sit in a group of 7-12 people (no more than that), introduce ourselves and then have an open discussion on a single question.

Each group has a facilitator: that’s someone who has been provided this set of instructions in advance, even if it’s only at the start of the user group meeting (although ideally 24 hours beforehand just in case there are any questions). Facilitators are usually regulars from previous user group meetings, so they understand about creating a welcoming and friendly environment; it’s also a great way to let them step up and try something new.

The facilitator ensures that everyone gets a fair turn to speak, doesn’t overtalk each other or dominate the group; that quieter people get an opportunity to be heard. Optional: they can try to ensure that we don’t get too far off topic (unless everyone is happy) and that we keep to time. The facilitator also highlights the ground rule.

The ground rule
What’s discussed within the group stays within the group. If people happen to mention personal or business challenges, these should not be discussed outside of the group, in any way that could be revealing. It’s a safe space.

The question
Intro question: “What’s your name, what type of organisation do you work for and what’s your role?”
Follow up question: “What did you get to do in Salesforce last week?”

This question is designed to share insights on:
•  what other people do
•  what successes they have had
•  what challenges they have

… all designed to give a different perspective on the working week and insights into each other’s works/lives.

The key is that everyone is invited to contribute, share observations, and ideally solutions to any challenges/issues/problems that are raised.

How long?  40 to60 minutes seems good.

Most importantly
Have fun, and get to know each other better 🙂

Any questions
As these are small groupings, the facilitator can still participate fully!

Stretch Options
If you want to do something a bit different, you can look at the Salesforce Circles of Success website and see if any of the topics there appeal.

On other evenings, Circles of Success/Roundtables on the following have worked particularly well for us, with people self-selecting which group they want to sit in (or even have two different groups for the same topic, to distribute the numbers of attendees)
– Training and Adoption
– Reporting
– Process Automation (workflow, Process Building, anything not covered by other subjects!)
– Recruitment (actually, we haven’t done this last one, but it comes to mind)
– Anything you feel suitable and timely (e.g. Lightning migration, roll-out strategies, integration with other systems, Field Service Lightning), etc.

For these topic-focused roundtables, you may even want up to 12 people, to get more knowledge at the table. One word of caution – introductions take a long time so you may want either a longer session (e.g. an hour) or to keep the introductions shorter, or get people to introduce themselves when they speak for the first time (whether to share a problem or volunteer a solution).

The concept of a roundtable is not the biggest reason people go to a user group (10% according to the Kahoot quiz we did at the start of the evening), but people love them once they have participated, so having a different presentation to draw people in in the first place may be a good idea.

Most important thing!
A round table is not necessary!

By Paul Ginsberg, Salesforce Amsterdam User Group Co-Organiser

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A User Group Leaders’ User Group

The Benelux Gathering

If you’re going to get user group leaders from 3 countries into one room, you had better make good use of their time. This is a write-up of the thinking that went into the January 2018 meeting of all the Benelux User Group leaders.

This article deliberately includes the small warts we encountered as I feel honesty is the best in helping us all understand the potential challenges and learn how to deal with them.


Just in case you don’t know Benelux is the name given to the collection of countries that is Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg, arising from a customs agreement signed in 1944, became a founding part of the EU. 29 million inhabitants at the last count and 74,657 km2 (28,825 sq mi) in size.

As of January 2017 there were 7 user groups and 0 Saturday Salesforce group. As of January 2018, there are 13 user groups and 3 on Saturdays. The groups cover general knowledge, developer, non profit, Pardot and Women in Technology.

So why did we decide to have the meetup?

There were a number of reasons:

    1. We‘re nearby and can support each other with connections, ideas and content;
    2. It was an easy way for the groups to meet the larger network and benefit from all our pain experience in terms of what works and what doesn’t (a.k.a. “best practice”);
    3. We didn’t want to step on each other’s toes (nearby groups repeating content in too short a timeframe, or – even worse – having a date clash);
    4. We’re sociable

How did it get organised?

So a few points here: we’re fortunate in our collective to have certain individuals who come up with fantantistic ideas all the time (in fact almost too many ideas, but that’s another story!), but it still requires a bit of focus and someone to say “I’ll take it forward”.

We had had a Netherlands drinks evening with a few user group leaders the previous Summer and we said that we really ought to do it again. I therefore selected an evening date at random and asked everyone to put it in their diary, including sending calendar invites.

We booked the date 6 months in advance, noting that there was no point in checking for people’s availability as it was bound to change due to client commitments, but better to start with something. The only things we did was decide on the day of the week so that one of our members was more likely to be available.

We choose a location that was fairly central (which was easy as one of us had an office building that would be suitable) and we crowd-sourced contact details amongst ourselves as no one knew everyone, but between us we thought we covered the whole crowd.

As self-nominated organiser I then sent out a calendar invite, emails, Slack messages and WhatsApp messages to everyone.

Prep Work

I then approached my boss at work to see if my employer would sponsor the catering, and he agreed, so that was one less headache; it could then be forgotten about until much nearer the time.

The only other thing I did was occasionally mention the event to new user group leaders as and when I bumped into them, to remind them and hopefully ensure that it was in their diaries (and then to follow up by sending them the calendar invite).

6 weeks before

6 weeks before the event, I did two things. I’ve added a third item which I actually did on the day, but far easier to do it in advance.

1. Worked out the agenda

This was an interesting process as we are all volunteers and there’s no one in charge, but equally I wanted to ensure that we made best use of everyone’s time. Therefore I drew up a proposed agenda and sent it out – via Google Doc (other platforms are available!) – asking for feedback. To be honest I didn’t receive any particularly strong feedback beyond, when pressed, friends saying “it looks ok” or “I haven’t had time to read it yet”. No alarm bells rang for anyone, so I was happy enough. For the actual agenda please see later.

2. Attendance

I asked everyone to fill in a Google Spreadsheet ostensibly asking them for their dietary requirements and whether they needed accommodation organised or were willing to car-pool. This was a feint, as what I wanted to do was focus people’s attention on the fact that they were actually coming and they needed to organise their travel and book their accommodation if required; I also wanted to ensure everyone was reading the messages I sent.

After a couple of weeks (so 4 weeks beforehand) I then started reaching out individually to those that hadn’t responded; about a third needed chasing, for a whole variety of reasons. And chase I did: text, phone, whatsapp, Slack and email, asking other user group leaders to nag their co-leaders – whatever it took 🙂 I wasn’t surprised by this as we all have other commitments and each person has a “best” contact method. It paid off as we got a 100% response rate. 18 available out of 24.

Colleagues then pointed out that certain names were missing from the list: people had left, people had come or were thinking about being a co-leader. We also thought that there was a new group, but we had no connections to the co-leaders whatsoever. So we updated the list, and then started working on the new group.

User Group Missing in Action(!)

We sent a LinkedIn connection request to one of the leaders, but that didn’t get a response (the request was accepted, but no communication was started); we applied to join their Success Group but that was ignored; then one of our MVPs started to see if they could make any headway and identify extra user group leaders. To be honest, it looked as if we were getting nowhere; the Community Group Support Team let us know that User Groups do run into problems from time to time and they had processes for dealing with this (starting out with gently reaching out, but going all the way up to changing the leaders if necessary), but we didn’t want to invoke that yet.

On the day of the meeting itself, we received an email from one of the group’s leaders. It turns out that the previous co-leader had left and the ball had been dropped; the lack of communication was explained, and the leader drove all the way over to ensure they could come to the meeting. A huge win for all concerned because the user group realised that they now had access to a wider support network.

3. Contact Sheet

I created a sheet with everyone’s name, group, linkedin profile link, twitter handle, preferred email address for circulation after the event, including phone number for those that were happy to give this out.


And this was our agenda (12-hr)

4:00 PM

Room prep/running around/ trying to finish work

6:00 PM – 6:30 PM


6:00 PM – 6:45 PM


6:45 PM

Welcoming the Ohana

6:55 PM

Silly fact time!

7:10 PM

Breakout 1: The Best User Group Sessions

7:50 PM

Regroup & Recap

8:05 PM


8:15 PM

Breakout 2: Choice

8:45 PM

Breakout 3: Choice

9:15 PM

Formal Close

How did I come up with this?

“Welcoming the Ohana”: I asked one of our MVPs to present on this as it’s one of the most inspiring topics for me and what it’s all about: paying it forward and the rewards it brings; I hoped it would also bring some formality back to the group and start to concentrate minds. Writing this blog, I now realise that this item should have come after “Silly Fact Time”.

Silly Fact Time: We asked everyone to say their name, and then give a silly or personal fact about themselves. I wanted to start to get everyone to connect personally and warm up/change gear after a working day; the trouble was there simply wasn’t going to be time for everyone to explain about their personal calling as a user group co-leader, if we wanted to get anything else done, this spot had to be short. As it happened, it allowed time for late-comers to join us without missing out, and characters still emerged even with the short time window given.

Best User Group Sessions: What better way to focus attention than discussing the very best of user groups, and what it takes for them to work successfully? As there were 13 of us that actually showed up (verses 18 than said they would be coming 24 hours beforehand), we split into two groups (6/7 people in each group being an ideal number as it happens; as this allows each person more time to speak and means that “wallflowering” is less likely) and went our separate ways to discuss this. At this point it was decided that we didn’t need the 40 minutes scheduled for this activity and 20 minutes would do. After 20 minutes, we decided we were enjoying it too much, checked with the other group, went back to the original 40!

Breakouts 2 & 3: Originally the plan was to have two breakout suggestions. In my email sent 6 weeks in advance I highlighted 6 common topics and invited suggestions for more. I didn’t receive anything, so this was the list on the night:

          • What tools do more people find useful for organising meetings
          • Activity ideas
          • Marketing (spread the word!)
          • Sponsorship (how to get it; how to use it; how to balance it)
          • Training & Upskilling (presentation skills; running session skills)
          • Salesforce knowledge / how to find speakers

As we were running late we decided to do one session instead of two. I read out the list of topics, we had a brief discussion about what they actually meant, and then we voted by a show of hands.

We actually went with sponsorship for one group, and another group went and tackled training, upskilling and how to find speakers. After 40 minutes we returned and presented our findings. I’m not going to share those findings here for a few reasons: every locality is different and has different cultural challenges, but mainly this article is too long already. That said, you can run a similar exercise so you can discover the power, ideas and knowledge you already have in your own area! 😛

Formal Close

So the meeting then ran for to a formal close at the previously agreed time so that those driving long distances could arrive back at home not too long after midnight; I went out with a few others and found a new bar which greatly improved my perception of Brussels (while also having useful chats); and a sub-group was formed to think about creating a larger Benelux event…

Was it worth it?

Ok, I was a bit cocky and I thought that all of us user group leaders meeting would be a Good Thing, but the results firmly came into the category of “exceeding expectations”. It was a shame, but inevitable that not everyone could make it. Being honest, I thought that some who didn’t attend would have benefitted more than others (there’s always the risk of preaching to the converted) but how to reach out to those is perhaps a different blog. So the benefits:

          • Putting names to faces
          • Remembering why we do this (it’s important, as sometimes the challenges of sorting out logistics can wear me/us down)
          • Coming up with new ideas for user groups, but also ideas beyond those constraints
          • Checking that we were all on the same level in terms of how we operate (e.g. one group had stringent vetting procedures on members, and found our feedback useful in terms of our experiences; they will now try letting in a wider circle of interested parties and see how it goes)
          • Learning about the resources available; we all learned new things, no one person had all the knowledge
          • It was fun!

Thank Yous

In no particular order:

          • The Together Plan, which focuses on capacity building in the former Soviet Union (particularly Belarus); I have been involved with over the last few years. As with all charity (and user group) volunteering the payback is 1000-fold. You’ll be happy to know that they use Salesforce of course 🙂
          • My mentors at the London Admin User Group, who showed me what was possible when I was a wee lad/member (or “led by example”, as it is otherwise known) and continue to support me even though I have abandoned their shores
          • My colleagues in the Benelux user group network, both those that were there on the night, and those who weren’t available on that single date but have inspired throughout
          • The Community support team and wider User Group leaders community. Meeting lots of you at Dreamforce in November was an inspiration, realising that we all have different experiences and also that the challenges vary from locality to locality, so we have to come up with local solutions
          • The Success team (and this very much includes my local Success team from Salesforce NL; we have one chap in particular whose support and encouragement helps give us the confidence to try new things, and that we’re not doing this alone)

By Paul Ginsberg, Salesforce Amsterdam User Group Co-Organiser

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Creating My Salesforce Saturdays Group

Creating My Salesforce Saturday Group

by Bill Powell (


sjsalesforcesaturdayWhen I attended my first ever Salesforce user event in 2016, I was blown away by the massive amounts of information and people to meet in the Salesforce ecosystem. I experienced the “fire hose” effect if you will at that event and was hit with every part of it within an 8 hour period. As much as I enjoyed that event, I had wished there were smaller, more intimate events to openly ask questions, collaborate, and make connections with those in the community to kind of “ease” my way into it. I discovered user groups, but the closest meetings for user groups were mid week after hours, and at least 30-40 minutes away. I’m not sure where you’re from, but a 30-40 minute drive in 5-5:30pm traffic in the metro Philadelphia area can easily take you 1.5-2 hours sitting in traffic, so its safe to say that I gave that commute a big ole’fashioned “nope”.

I decided to create my own user group that would cater to the Southern NJ audience (there are a lot of tech companies as well as Salesforce targeted vertical industries in my area) but based on the “as a bird flies” distance, I was rejected by Salesforce user groups. A little defeated, I decided to attend Dreamforce and “sleep on it” a bit.

After my Twitter and Facebook storm during Dreamforce, a handul of good friends approached me to learn more about this “Salesforce” thing. They were inspired by how it changed my professional life and start to help right my personal life. One friend was sick of being in A/R and loved database technology, another was a computer science major turned insurance agent, and both were very interested in Salesforce. Naturally, I introduced them to Trailhead…but what else can they do? I didn’t want them to suffer the “fire hose” effect I did at first, but struggled to find smaller intimate “starter” user groups.

It was then that Salesforce Saturday was born. After some direction from one of my Salesforce mentors (he’ll say he’s not, but he is and there’s nothing he can do about it, so there), I reached out to my local user groups to ensure I wouldn’t be stepping on their toes, and received nothing but support in return.

I stressed over what venue to have my first event at for days. Coffee shop? Library? Diner? Everyone said coffee shop but i’m one of those people who tries to get in and out of a restaurant quickly because I feel bad if I take up too much space for too long (servers gotta turn tables for tips!), so my own anxiety wouldn’t allow that. So I settled for the local library that had meeting space. They only had 2 hours available but it was perfect for a first event.

Next, how the heck am I going to let everyone know? Chatter? I’m still learning how Chatter works beyond the basics (and my success comm profile at the time was out of whack). LinkedIn? It’s been a month now and they still can’t fix my group naming issues. Meetup? It had a cost to it, so I was hesitant. Eventbrite? EVENTBRITE! They threw a great party with CRM Science at #DF16 and integrate with Salesforce! DONE!

I listed the free event on Eventbrite (which is a fantastic platform by the way), and asked a few friends to blast out the announcement. Within a week I booked the 12 RSVP’s necessary to fill the room. I’m expecting a 40-50% show rate which is perfect, but everything worked out!

What the heck are we going to talk about? I know what I like to talk about, but its about the group! I decided the first event is simply going to be introductions, chat, networking, and learn what brought everyone there, with future events being more project/collaboration/education/fun focused.

So far, so good, and even got a shout out from Stephanie Herrera (queen of Salesforce Saturday)! I look forward to the first event and will check back with another blog post after the first event is complete.

  • Bill Powell

The Member Challenge

Among the many challenges facing us as Salesforce User Group Leaders is outreach to local users and admins to build our member base.  Salesforce has made a lot of strides recently to improve employee engagement with user groups but lets face it, it’s still up to us to find and recruit members.  This takes time, is frustrating, and unfortunately there really is no “one size fits all” solution.  In our Salesforce User Group Leaders Office Hours call on June 14th we addressed this issue.  Here are the 10 ways that we found that you can start growing your user group base.

If you missed the call and want to listen in go here:

#1 Ask your Salesforce Rep / Account Executive (AE)

AEStart with the person that is you primary connection to Salesforce, your AE.   They will often (results may vary) email other local admins in your area on your behalf to let them know your group exists.   They will also often help identify regional users and possible vertical users in your area.  Additionally hit up your Marketing Cloud Rep, rep, etc.   Last, but certainly not least…don’t ask your rep for a list of contacts.  Due to Salesforce’s policy on privacy and protecting confidential information they won’t send it to you, and that’s a GOOD thing!

#2 Cross Promote Your Group / Success Communities

Joicross-promotionn the User Groups that are in your region, if you haven’t already. You can find them here.  Once you join, reach out to the leaders and let them know about your new group.   Ask them if its OK if you let the group know about your group.  Most will be excited to help you get started and be willing to help.  Remember this is not required…so your actual results may vary.   Also if they help you or give the OK,  thank them, and do it publicly so everyone in the group sees that the leader of the group is helping the community grow.  This simple act goes a long way.  While you are connecting with other groups, don’t forget about WIT, Non-Profit, Marketing Cloud, Pardot and Vertical Groups.  Several user group leaders have found that the Pardot groups are especially helpful in cross promoting.

Obviously… Use the Success Communities, and in particular the All Salesforce User Group Leaders group.  Ask for help if you have questions.  We are here to help!

#3, simply put is all things non-profit at Salesforce.  Do you know what local non-profits use Salesforce that might be interested in your group?  Want to connect with them?  Simply post your meeting to here 4 or more weeks before your meeting and will reach out to local non-profits to let them know about your meeting.   When they come to your meeting be sure to recognize them and ask what they need help with.  They are always looking for talented people to plug in.

#4 Developer Groups

meetupI know, to Admins and End User, Developers are a scary bunch.  But guess what? Most of them are pretty cool people and they are just as passionate about Salesforce as you are.  Most of them either are admins as well, or they work very closely with one or more.  Think R2D2 and C3PO  (Of course we are R2D2.)

Reach out to the area Developer Groups at here, and plug in with them, just like we suggested in #2.   Join, ask promote, and thank them!

Don’t see a local Developer Group?  Don’t despair.  Search on for other Developer groups in the area and reach out.  A bit of a longer shot but worth a small amount of effort.

#5 Partners

partnersSalesforce has hundreds of partner organizations dedicated to successful implementations and building apps that plug into the Salesforce platform.  These partners want to connect with you just as badly as you want to connect with you local users.  Leverage them.  Let the partners you work with know that you are building your group and if they can let customers in your region know you are out there.  Most (results will vary) will be happy to do this.  Build a good relationship and you just might pick up a sponsor for your meeting.  Be sure to control the relationship though!  Review our previous post for more on that.

#6 Salesforce Networking Events

Networking1Hit local or regional events, and don’t be afraid to travel a bit to find these.  If there are users out there and they are passionate about Salesforce like you, they will travel.   Talk to everyone!  Use the 3 foot rule – at an event if there is someone within 3 feet of you ask them what they do and where they are from.  You will meet some really cool people!   Also when traveling wear a Salesforce shirt.  Its amazing how this starts conversations.

#7 Invite a Friend

friendChallenge your members to each bring one or two friends to a meeting.  Your members know other admins.  Utilize their networks.

Additionally, be sure your group adds value to the community and to individual group members.  If your user group is adding value to the community your best source of recruitment will be your members, as they talk about the value it is bringing to the community and to them personally.

#8 Social Media

social mediaPost your events on social medial platforms.  Your friends on Facebook likely know someone other than you that uses Salesforce, so ask them to spread the word.   Use Twitter, my favorite platform, and be sure tag Salesforce and your region.   Post pics of your meetings on Instagram.  On LinkedIn add “User Group Leader” with your location or group name to your profile.  Keep trying, persistence is key.  There is so much content and it moves so fast that it will likely take a few posts to get attention.

Another tip from Eric Dreshfield:  “When you are traveling and have downtime, tweet which airport and gate/location you are waiting at.  Let people know if they want to kill some time and talk about Salesforce to come on by.  You never know who else is traveling in the area.

#9 MVPs

MVPEngage the MVP community and let them know about your group. MVPs will help promote your group where they can and the “star power” of having an MVP present (or presenting!) is sure to bring a good group of attendees.

#10 Get to Know Eric Dreshfield

CcWZEUqVAAAFBdZSeriously…This guy knows everyone.  He’s the Kevin Bacon of the Salesforce Community. On a more serious note.  Look at people who are active in the community.  Who is running a successful group, and who seems to have it together?  Ask questions!  We will help!


Put these ideas into practice.  Post your ideas that I may have missed below.  Above all be consistent, be persistent.  Do not try any of these things once and forget it.  These recruiting activities should be part of your ongoing success.   Make these things a habit and stay the course.  Salesforce adds hundreds of customers each and every month your efforts may not reach everyone right away.

My challenge to all of you.  Pick 3 of these tips and try them out.  Let us know how it works in the comments below!

  • Pat Solum
  • Sioux Falls Salesforce User Group Co-Leader
  • @sodakforce

Managing User Group Partner Sponsors

There are so many expenses with running a user group meeting from food, to venue, to other  expenses.   One of the most effective and widely used ways to fund your meetings is to invite sponsors to present with the expectation that they will fund part of the meeting expenses.  Many User Groups have challenges in managing sponsors that want to present to them.  To help address this we invited Kathy Ecklund to present on our  last Salesforce User Group Leaders Office Hours Call (Twin City Salesforce User Group Co-Leader and Salesforce MVP) to talk to us about a process created by her and her team to deal with managing sponsors.   You can listen to the recording of her presentation at  Kathy starts speaking at the 17:40mark.

One of the best ways to fund your meetings is by inviting partners to sponsor your event.  The trouble many have with this is finding the right sponsors and making sure they are doing what we need them to do.

When a Partner reaches out to her group about sponsor ship they send the following email out to that partner to notify them that they are being considered.

Thank you for your interest in having (company name) sponsor and present at one of the upcoming Twin Cities User Group meetings. When we receive sponsorship requests, we present them to the group at the next meeting and ask for a vote of who they would like to have present/sponsor in the future. We have a very large attendance to our meetings (we average 220 users per meeting), and are fortunate to have a large group of partners who want to present. We have found the “ballot” to be a great way for our users to shape the meeting.

We will be happy to add (company name) to the ballot for the next meeting if you would like.  Please send us a short blurb (no more than 2 sentences) about (company name) and/or what you would be presenting on.  If the group votes that they would like to have your company present/sponsor a future meeting, we’ll reach out to you with some date options.

Thanks again for your interest and support!”

The partners are also sent out a simple “Code of Ethics” on expectations for when they come to the meeting.  They also inform the potential sponsor that they are asked to pick up the tab for Breakfast or Lunch.   This eliminates the need for expense reimbursement later.  The partners are informed that they are to add value and show how this product can be used in a business. They are also encouraged to bring a customer to talk about the impact the product had for them.   Partners are told to avoid being too salesy and to show the value to members.

Thank you for your interest in presenting at an upcoming meeting for the Twin Cities User Group.  As always, our vision for this group is to establish an atmosphere of open sharing and discussion within our user community.  We want all members of the User Group to feel that this is an environment free of pressure.  As such, we have developed a “Code of Ethics” for vendors/partners who are presenting:

-Bring us subject matter presentations only – no commercials, please

-Bring us innovation – show us something that we haven’t seen before

-Bring us sponsorship – we ask that our partners sponsor breakfast

This year we have averaged over 200 attendees per meeting, the majority of which are System Administrators and/or Marketing Users.  While we do not provide a list of attendees to the meeting, if you would like to bring an item to raffle and collect business cards, you are welcome to do so.

Please let me know at your earliest convenience if you are still interested and available for our upcoming User Group Meeting.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Once the partner is selected the partner is then sent the following letter to welcome them as a sponsor and inform them of the time they will have available, expenses and recapping the expectations.  Additionally they ask for a bio on who will be presenting.

I hope you are doing well.  We are happy to report that (company name) received a large number of the votes on our attendee survey at our last meeting, and therefore we would like to invite you to present and sponsor at our next meeting.  It will be held on (date/time). 

Are you still interested in sponsoring and available on that date? If so, here is the standard information that we share with potential sponsors:

As always, our vision for this group is to establish an atmosphere of open sharing and discussion within our user community. We want all members of the User Group to feel that this is an environment free of pressure. As such, we have developed a “Code Of Ethics” for vendors/partners who are presenting:

Bring us subject matter presentations only – no commercials, please – “how can our solution solve a problem” vs. “buy our product/service”

Bring us innovation – show us something that we haven’t seen before

Bring us sponsorship – we ask that as one of our partner sponsors that you provide (breakfast or lunch) for the group

 As you may know, we have a large attendance at these meetings, the majority of which are System Administrators and/or Marketing Users, and some IT/Developers. We average between 200 and 250 attendees per meeting on a regular basis, so you will undoubtedly have a large audience to present to! While we do not provide a list of attendees to the meeting, if you would like to bring an item to raffle and collect business cards, you are welcome to do so.

You will have 45 minutes on the agenda, which should include your presentation and any Q&A. Hopefully that gives you the information that you need. Please let us know what your interest level is by (date – one week from the date you send the email) if possible. Thanks again for your interest and support!”

Hopefully these templates and process will help you to more effectively manage your meeting sponsors.  If you have any questions please respond in the comments below or reach out to Kathy Ecklund or myself on the success community.

Pat Solum | Co-Leader Sioux Falls User Group | Salesforce MVP | @sodakforce



New Year New You

New Year’s Resolutions from Your Fellow Salesforce User Group Leaders

Every year, New Year’s is that time where we optimistically look forward to change in the
coming year.  If we had a crummy year, this year will be better.  If we had a good year, this is the year we are really taking it up a level.  A long with all of that come the resolutions.  Those things we pour our heart and soul into saying we will do, quit smoking, lose weight, learn something new, etc.  The list goes on and on.   A month or so ago we asked user group leaders what their resolutions were for their groups, for themselves as user group leaders and for their careers as it pertains to salesforce.  We will take a look at what we learned and give some insight on keeping those resolutions.  Those that said I could share names I did.

All of thaImage result for resolutionst said one of my personal goals was to not procrastinate so much.  Here it is early February and I am writing a new year’s resolutions article… much for that!  In my defense though this is based on the User Group Leaders Office Hours Call on January 12th… so there is that.

Read the following for inspiration.  Resolutions are NOT JUST FOR NEW YEARS!   You can make a commitment to change any time.   The following should show just how dedicated this community is and that even if you are struggling you are not alone.   Rather than give you all my lengthy analysis I thought it best to just share these and let them speak for themselves

So what resolutions were shared with the group on what we wanted to do for our User Groups?

Most resolutions were around increasing awareness and attendance for our groups as well as getting our members more involved.   Below are the responses we received.

  • Kim McClure Salt Lake City Women in Tech – Increase awareness and attendance.  Create reward(s) for those that bring new attendees to meetings – potential reward for repeat attendance?
  • Eric Dreshfield Southern Indiana User Group – I would like to see more active participation and sharing from user group members.
  • Melinda Smith Southern California WIT – Topics that are tangible for my group.  Our first year together (this last year) was finding our footing and what works for our huge territory. This year I want to focus on a topic for each meeting
  • Kristi Guzman Charlotte WIT – My primary goal for 2016 is to grow the group. We have a GREAT core group of Women but I’d love to see more to expand the resources for everyone.
  • Jocelyn Fennewald Chicago WIT – My resolution for the group is to have users become more engaged to make connections within the group.
  • Denise Carbone Chicago – Provide more hands-on examples on how to do something in Salesforce
  • Davina Hanchuck Tampa Bay User Group – Grow the group. Solve more problems!
  • Amy Campbell Cleveland, OH WIT – To build an active and supportive WIT User group for NE Ohio.
  • Ben Schauerhamer Utah County User Group – To engage more end users in our area and increase our members by 25%.
  • Sarah Deutsch Orlando Women in Tech- *Start meeting in earnest* with educational content, and of course a safe, judgement-free, and accountable zone for the ladies of Orlando.
  • Margaret Fako Michigan Nonprofit User Group – More user demos!
  • Cheryl Besch WIT Kansas City – Get members to post more often
  • Bhavana Singh Columbia MD Women In Tech – Create an environment of support and learning and of course fun!
  • Susan Sparks Providence UG – To run a Trailhead4All session
  • Erin GilbertSt. Louis, MO – Women in Tech – More attendees to encourage better collaboration
  • Mike Martin Indianapolis User Group – More interactive discussions – led by members!  We need to get folks more involved in sharing their own stories and their own content.
  • Pat Solum Sioux Falls SD – Improve attendance and participation.  Have better meetings.
  • Claire Rook Boston Women in Tech – More opportunities to get together and get involved
  • Sergey Erlikh The Netherlands Nonprofit- Make our community events exciting and engaging. Grow to 50 active members. Connect people and engage in online collaboration besides monthly events. Help other groups in EU region.
  • Marisa Hambleton Phoenix – Continue focusing on member feedback to keep doing what everyone enjoys, and improve where necessary
  • Cheryl Feldman NYC, Fin Serv, NYC WIT – Be #1
  • Michelle Chaplin Regal New Orleans User Group – Get 15 members to attend a UG meeting.
  • Art Ordoqui San Antonio / Non Profit – To find more presenters from within the group to share To increase our chatter group dialogue (Nonprofit) To have a successful first year To grow to 20 regular attendees
  • Stephanie Foerst Atlanta WIT Atlanta Pardot – Get our members to help bring on more members.
  • Nick Lindberg Twin Cities Nonprofit User Group- Increase Success Community engagement in our group.
  • Kate Vickery Birmingham – Continue to grow the group through broader outreach
  • John Graf Oklahoma City – We will have more attending members.
  • Susan DeFazio Connecticut Women in Tech – To have meeting participation grow by 100%.  (We only get a hand full of attendees.)
  • Becka Miller Houston Pardot User Group – My goal is to have a group where we can support each other and learn from each other. I would love for us to be able to meet every other month like the Houston User Group does. If we could get to 50 members by the end of the year that would be amazing!

So what resolutions were shared with the group on what we wanted to do for ourselves as User Group Leaders?

Common themes include be better organized, better meetings / planning, and better involve other members in leadership.

  • Kim McClure Salt Lake City Women in Tech – Plan at least 2 meetings in advance, not plan month to month.    Advertise through Twitter and LinkedIn to increase membership.
  • Eric Dreshfield Southern Indiana User Group – To plan meetings further in advance. I used to plan them only about 4 weeks out. I’m going to try to always have at least 2 meetings on the books at all times. In addition, I’m considering moving back to monthly meetings. We have been meeting quarterly for the past two or three years.
  • Melinda Smith Southern California WIT – Try to have a meeting every other month and increase attendance.  Involve a charity in our group
  • Kristi Guzman Charlotte WIT – I want to be the queen of follow-through. Great ideas come up for things we could do, and I think it’s easy to let some get lost and do the same old thing I’m comfortable with. Evaluate ideas and different ways people may want to connect, even if they’re not my personal preference!
  • Jocelyn Fennewald Chicago WIT – My resolution is to come up with better content and find speakers to drive attendance at events. Also, another goal is to ensure that members feel engaged and supported.
  • Denise Carbone Chicago – Continue to grow the group
  • Davina Hanchuck Tampa Bay User Group – Plan better. Present more. Add more value to the group.
  • Amy Campbell Cleveland, OH WIT – To create engaging content that will foster a growing WIT group.
  • Ben Schauerhamer Utah County User Group – As a user group leader I would like to become more knowledgeable on some of the areas that I haven’t done much work on and spread that knowledge to other users. I would also like to improve my presentation skills.
  • Sarah Deutsch Orlando Women in Tech – Become a leader in my local community by meeting consistently.
  • Margaret Fako Michigan Nonprofit User Group – To engage a greater variety of participants.
  • Cheryl Besch WIT Kansas City – Schedule 3 in-person meetings and 3 web-meetings
  • Bhavana Singh Columbia MD Women In Tech – Just get the group going – looking forward to my first official meeting
  • Susan Sparks Providence UG -To get the group up and running and add members
  • Erin Gilbert St. Louis, MO – Women in Tech – Get the meetings scheduled further out and recruit more “value added” speakers
  • Mike Martin Indianapolis User Group – More pre-planning & communication to the group.
  • Pat Solum Sioux Falls SD – Do a better job of planning meetings in advanced.  Better engage our members to be sure we are providing the content that they want to see.
  • Claire Rook Boston Women in Tech – To arrange regular meetings that will encourage the group members to get involved and feel part of the group
  • Sergey Erlikh The Netherlands Nonprofit – Start blogging (finally) 🙂
  • Marisa Hambleton Phoenix – Get more customers involved! I’ve been asking customers to ‘show & tell’, host and highlight how they are using Salesforce, and think it will make a positive impact for all members.
  • Cheryl Feldman NYC, Fin Serv, NYC WIT – More proactive about setting up meetings
    Find more help
    Let others take the lead
    Inspire 3 new people to become leaders
    Inspire 3 new people to become regular presenters
  • Michelle Chaplin Regal New Orleans User Group – Host interesting and engaging User Group meetings.
  • Art Ordoqui San Antonio – To find co-leaders
  • Art OrdoquiSan Antonio Nonprofit – To foster the two co-leaders that have agreed to help so that they can be the primary leaders.
  • Stephanie Foerst Atlanta WIT Atlanta Pardot – Work together with the other user groups in Atlanta and host at least 2 joint meetings throughout the year. These meetings will help promote the groups to members of the other groups and help bring all the Atlanta salesforce users together.
  • Nick Lindberg Twin Cities Nonprofit User Group – Build a whole curriculum centered around integrating with Salesforce
  • Kate Vickery Birmingham Broaden UG  leader – to include a group of co-leaders (i.e. share the love)
  • John Graf Oklahoma City – My members will leave every meeting feeling more confident in their capabilities with Salesforce than when they came in.
  • Susan DeFazio Connecticut Women in Tech – Promote our group in order to grow it.  Make more people aware that we exist.
  • Becka Miller Houston Pardot User Group – To build a great user group! My group is brand new, so I am still trying to figure everything out, but I want to become an active user group leader and to do that, I think I am going to have to reach out to my Pardot account executives and maybe other Pardot User Group leaders for some direction.
  • Sandra Scofield Hospitality Travel and Tourism – Identify ways to be more effective as a virtual vertical group leader

Last we asked for result ions about or careers as it pertains to salesforce.

Common themes are certifications, trailhead and dang it, it seems we all want to code!

  • Kim McClure Salt Lake City Women in Tech – Become more comfortable with code.  Participating in WWSF Mentoring Circles, awaiting confirmation of RAD Women session – will reapply next time if not enough space this round.
  • Eric Dreshfield Southern Indiana User Group – Absolutely!   My goal for 2016 is to actually become Salesforce certified…not once, but twice.  I’m still deciding which certifications make the most sense for the new career path I’m headed down.
  • Melinda Smith Southern California WIT – 1-2 more certifications Be as helpful in the community as possible Stay involved in Trailhead and sharing it with others
  • Kristi Guzman Charlotte WIT – Shut up and code. Practice makes perfect and works worlds better than lip service alone, girl!
  • Jocelyn Fennewald Chicago WIT – I would like to take my advance admin certification.
  • Denise Carbone Chicago – Yes, obtain more certifications
  • Davina Hanchuck Tampa Bay User Group – Learn to read/write basic code. Sales & Service Cloud Consultant Certifications.
  • Amy Campbell Cleveland, OH WIT – Obtain my ADM201 certification.
  • Ben Schauerhamer Utah County User Group – I have the point and click portion of Salesforce down pretty well. I would like to learn more development than just modifying existing code. I have set a goal to have the first portion of the Advanced Developer Certification complete by the end of the year.
  • Sarah Deutsch Orlando Women in Tech – CERTIFY ALL THE THINGS. I’d like to get 3 more certifications this year.
  • Margaret Fako Michigan Nonprofit User Group – Confidence!
  • Cheryl Besch WIT Kansas City – 2 certifications
  • Bhavana Singh Columbia MD Women In Tech – I have Admin certification. I want to get the Advanced Admin and Dev certification in 2016
  • Susan Sparks Providence UG – To improve my development skills – learning apex and visualforce
  • Erin Gilbert St. Louis, MO – Women in Tech – Get certified
  • Mike Martin Indianapolis User Group – I have a new role that will take me a bit away from the technology – I want to stay rooted in salesforce and up to date on the functionality available!
  • Pat Solum Sioux Falls SD – Do more Trailhead.   Start process to gain more certifications.  Focus more on making our salesforce instance something that works the way our people work.   Continue to explore new ways to help others make their User Groups more successful.
  • Claire Rook Boston Women in Tech – To work more on Apex, Visualforce and Lightning
  • Sergey Erlikh The Netherlands Nonprofit – get hands dirty in coding (apex)
  • Marisa Hambleton Phoenix – Get that next certification! Sales Cloud Consultant
  • Michelle Chaplin Regal New Orleans User Group – Become a certified Salesforce Platform Developer; find a new position that lets me utilize my skills as an administrator and developer
  • Art Ordoqui San Antonio – To get Service Cloud Consultant Certification
  • Stephanie Foerst Atlanta WIT Atlanta PardotMore certifications!
  • Nick Lindberg Twin Cities Nonprofit User Group – Figure out what it means to lead people.
  • Kate Vickery Birmingham – Identify new ways to remain active in SF community once I transition the Birmingham UG to new leaders later in the year
  • John Graf Oklahoma City – Maximize my Productivity and success rate.
  • Susan DeFazio Connecticut Women in Tech – Constant learning.  Get better at adding automation to my org.
  • Becka Miller Houston Pardot User Group – I do & I’m excited! I just started my journey last year by becoming a certified Admin & certified  Pardot Consultant. This year, I want to earn my App Builder certification as well as Sales and Service Cloud. 2016 is going to be busy!

Find inspiration from here?  Want to share your own resolutions?  We’d love to hear from you!

Pat Solum – CoLeader – Sioux Falls Salesforce User Group


Do You Have The Right Stuff?

Many people ask me, “What does it take to lead a user group?” There are a couple answers that quickly come to mind:

1. It takes a lot. It takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of effort. It takes a lot of motivation. It takes a great network with a lot of connections.

2. It doesn’t take much at all. It’s really pretty easy to lead a user group. You don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to present at every meeting. It’s like “Field of Dreams”…if you build it, they will come.

Yes, I know I just gave two answers that are about as far apart as California is from Maine and about as different as a Dodge Grand Caravan is from a Bugatti Veyron.

I know many user group leaders will say that it is a lot of work being a user group leader, and to be perfectly honest, I would have to agree with that. It is a lot of work, but then, isn’t anything that’s worth doing?

What do these things have in common? A career; a marriage; children. If you said “not everyone has all three,” technically, you’d be right, but you would also be missing my point. They all take a great deal of effort to be successful, and it’s totally worth it! Some of the people who have at least one of the items above tend to get pretty passionate about it, regardless of what it is.

We all know people who give everything to their career…they work hard, they work long hours, they strut their stuff and really go places professionally. I’m sure we also all know someone who is head over heels in love with their significant other and would walk through fire for them…and then there’s the people with children. (Full disclosure. I have children. Between the grand children and children, it’s a total of five, and yes, I’d do just about anything for those girls!)


So what does working hard and being passionate really have to do with leading a user group? If you work hard, love what you do and are passionate about Salesforce, you might just have what it takes to lead a user group!

So what’s next?  You’ve decided you want to lead or co-lead a user group. But how do you make that happen? Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll share with you the secrets to becoming a user group leader or co-leader.

What is a leader?

What is a leader? One who “…guides, or inspires others”. A Salesforce User Group Leader is an initiator of good times; one who values people, fun, food, learning, and the occasional happy hour.

What does being a user group leader mean to me? Planning a quarterly party for all my Salesforce friends. My primary goal is great tech fun for all.

In spring 2009, I first learned that Salesforce existed. I curiously entered the universe of cloud computing from the world of embedded Java. With no context, other than peripheral knowledge of CRM and a strong desire for technical challenge, I accepted an offer to help with a new Salesforce implementation.

I became completely fascinated! Salesforce is multi-tenant, Platform As A Service (PaaS), Apex is object-oriented like Java – it was so much more than CRM. So THIS is cloud computing! Within a couple of months I was hungry for more, and found the Salesforce Phoenix User Group. It was small, steady and diverse. Users of all kinds, customers, developers, system administrators, ISVs, sales and marketing, and partners.

These were my kind of people, all passionate about what they do. I went to every meeting. By 2011, I had a new set of friends who enjoyed working with Salesforce as much as I did. We were just a bunch of geeks who had a lot of fun working with Salesforce. We wanted to meet others like ourselves, and chat about what we’re up to with the platform over adult beverages.

It was not long before I was known as the “after hours social gatherer”, “bringer of snacks”, then “helper of booking meeting space”, and finally “fill in for the leader”. I became the official leader in October 2013 and booked my first event in January 2014. Since then, I’ve been on a mission to find the perfect space so attendees can mingle, enjoy varied content, learn about what’s new, and get help from each other. I love the adventure of trying out new spaces, places, venues, companies, presenters, sponsors, activities, and more!

Since becoming a user group leader, I have had the great honor of meeting the most interesting and fantastic people. Organizing fun for Salesforce users, in the Phoenix metro is the best kind of fun!

Happily mentoring the next generation of user group leaders with @ericdresh and @sodakforce.

Thanks! Marisa Hambleton

Leader of the Salesforce Phoenix User Group – Co-organizer of the Phoenix Salesforce Developer Group


Oh the Places You Will Go

(To Have a User Group Meeting)

A frequent question that is brought up in discussions with User Group oh the places 1
Leaders, both new and established, is, “Where can I hold my User Group Meetings?”  The answers are as varied as the people that ask them.

Before choosing a venue or even looking for one, first determine what needs the venue should meet.   Here is a short check list of things to consider.

  1. Do they have adequate parking? Is parking free?
  2. Can you bring in food or do you have to order it from them?
  3. What is the cost to use the facility?
  4. Do they have adequate Wi-Fi, and is that an additional cost? Remember you might have a whole room of people on Wi-Fi for a hands on session.
  5. Do they have power hookups for laptops?
  6. Will it hold the number of attendees I am expecting?
  7. What is the noise level, outside of my room? Are there other events at the same time that could affect yours?
  8. Is it close to my members? Will they travel to come here if not?
  9. Do they have a point of contact that you can call on if something is not in order at the time of the meeting?
  10. How is the heat / AC?
  11. Is there access to audio/visual equipment for presentations such as a projector, screen and conference telephone, if needed for virtual attendees/presenters, and is there an additional cost for this?

Before choosing any space, make sure to visit it first.  Bring your co-leader and maybe a few members.  Ask questions!  Make sure you understand and know how to provide for the needs of your members BEFORE show time.

Oh the places 2All of that is quite a bit to consider… So what venues have we seen user group leaders use?  Here is a short list of some of the venues that have been suggested.   Keep in mind not all venues will meet needs for all meetings.   Be creative.  If you see unused meeting space, it’s worth asking about.

  • Have a member or local partner host the meeting at their office
  • Local non-profits often have meeting space available free or very inexpensively
  • Conference room at a local library
  • A church
  • A school
  • Local university
  • Movie theater
  • Dave and Busters or other restaurant / bar with corporate meeting space
  • Community conference room – The utility company where I live has a great conference area with a full kitchen that only costs $50 to use.
  • Look where a local support group meets
  • Got a tiny group? Meet at someone’s house

This list is not at all conclusive be creative and enjoy all the places you will go with your user group!

Patrick Solum

Sioux Falls Salesforce User Group Co-Leader



What is a User Group Leader?

Some people have asked me what it takes to be a user group leader, or how I became one.  It’s one of those things that sort of happened by accident, like the discovery of the microwave oven among other things!

I was working a temp job as a call center agent when the human resources department told me they had an opening for a “real” employee.  Part of the process I had to go through was an interview with the V.P. of Enterprise Business Systems.  She saw something in my work history that gave her the idea that I could help the company move forward and implement the Salesforce Service Cloud to run the call center on. I gladly accepted the challenge and was quickly told by my new manager (the aforementioned V.P.) that I should get connected with a user group so I could start networking and learn all I could about Salesforce.

I started doing some research and discovered that the closest user group was over 2 hours away, but since my manager approved the travel, I started attending a user group meeting each month. I traveled to Chicago, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Nashville just to attend user group meetings. I quickly discovered that there were a lot of people in the world using Salesforce, a lot solving real issues, and a lot sharing Salesforce knowledge.

After about 8 months of spending 1 to 2 days on the road to attend user group meetings, I said to myself, “I can’t be the only person in the area using Salesforce” so I found out who at Salesforce to talk to and started down the path of starting a user group in Southern Indiana. A couple of months later the Southern Indiana User Group held its first meeting and 6 people showed up. I was pretty thrilled!  Now nearly 5 years later, I get an average of 20-25 people attending the meetings.

So I may not have answered the question “What is a User Group Leader?” but I think I’ve given you some food for thought.  I’ll elaborate more on what it takes to lead a user group in an upcoming post.

user group program logo

If you have any questions about starting, or leading a user group, please email me at I’m always happy to help out!


Eric Dreshfield, Leader of the Southern Indiana Salesforce User Group

Dreamforce image courtesy of Salesforce.