How I found the Salesforce Community and became an MVP

As a Salesforce MVP I’m frequently asked what did I do to get recognized and become an MVP. It all starts with getting involved with the Salesforce Community and giving back your time and knowledge. Another thing to realize is that there is no single path in this journey. For many I don’t think it’s a conscious effort. They’ve made friends with other Salesforce users, admistrators and developers and simply wanted to help and participate in the conversations. For others the road is more solitary. They’re on the web blogging and sharing information because it makes them happy. I encourage everyone that has part (or all) of their career involved with Salesforce technologies to give the community a chance – for the friendships and camaraderie, to the knowledge gained and most importantly for the satisfaction that your efforts have benefited others.

This video is the story of how I found the Community, got involved and ultimately became an MVP. Everyone is different and I encourage you to find your "voice" – the channel(s) or medium that suits you best. If becoming an MVP is your goal, realize that sustained engagement (no just a couple of months) and quality is just as important (if not more so) than quantity.

The community has open arms and accepts everyone. Please give it a chance – I believe you’ll find it rewarding.

View this video on YouTube:

Transcript of video:

Hello, everyone. I’m Shell Black, president of and Salesforce MVP. And today, I’m going to do something a little bit different. I’m going to tell you about how I became aware of the Salesforce Community, got engaged, and ultimately became a Salesforce MVP.

Since we’re in Dallas today, we’re filming new episodes of ShellBlack Whiteboard. I thought it would be appropriate to use a whiteboard to tell a story. So, let’s go for it.

So, I guess we’ll start with how I found Salesforce. Back in 2005, I joined a consulting company that was doing Salesforce projects. Worked on multiple Salesforce projects and also had the opportunity to teach the five-day admin class for Salesforce, which is really great, because that’s when I learned that I love teaching, and thus the ShellBlack Whiteboard series.

2007, I left consulting, became a customer. The company didn’t have Salesforce. I was running strategic projects. A project came up that I thought would be a great use case for Salesforce. Fired up a developer account, configured all weekend, pitched Salesforce to the CEO on a Monday. And later that week, we became a Salesforce customer. Over two, three years, we became quite a big Salesforce org, millions of records, multiple integrations, a portal, 20, 30 custom objects. . . great org.

But then I felt a little bit like an island. 2009, certifications came out. I got certified as an Admin, a Developer in the old Saleforce Consultant certification. That helped a little bit, gave me some affirmation that I was still pretty good with Salesforce, but I still wanted some interaction with other super Salesforce nerds like myself.

And 2010 was a huge year because I kind of became aware of the community. And I don’t even know if it was really called a community back then. I think we really called it just different channels that Salesforce people were using to find each other. And the ones that come to mind for me were Answers, which is still around on Over the years, I’ve published 700 answers. Blogs were really popular like Force Monkey, a little blogspot. Just kind of followed the web and found different people blogging about Salesforce and gave me the inspiration to start my own blog.

Twitter, it was either that year or the year after that I found Twitter. Started following different Salesforce people. Been using that to find who was following who and find more people like myself. LinkedIn groups, participated with that. That was pretty popular back then.

And also really important, in my own backyard, I found the Dallas Salesforce User Group. It was run at the time by Kevin Richardson, who was a customer at the time. He’s been on Button Click Admin, if you’ve seen that episode, and he now works for Salesforce.

So, these channels helped me become aware of the Salesforce community. And I was just kind of searching the web trying to find out where people talk and where people are interacting. And this was to me, back in 2010, this to me was the community.

In 2010, I started So after reading other people’s blogs, I was inspired to take a crack at blogging. Had never done it before. But over the years, I’ve published about 125 blog posts on tips, tricks, how-tos on everything from web-to-lead to creating round-robin assignment rules to various Salesforce topics, where I just let people know how I was doing things in Salesforce, how to configure Salesforce, how to get the most out of it.

So I’m going to switch over to this side of the board, kind of continue the story a little bit. So 2011, I gave my first user group presentation. I did it with Matt Lamb, who is also a Salesforce MVP. We did a topic on Salesforce usability. That presentation I believe is still out there on SlideShare.

Continued blogging. Continued participating on Salesforce Answers. And 2012 was a big year. It was my first Dreamforce. In the past, my old employer never wanted to foot the bill. He always thought, "You’re pretty good at Salesforce. Why do I need to send you out to the Dreamforce?" So when I had my company going, I footed the bill myself and went to my first Dreamforce. And I looked this up just to make sure it was accurate, but my first Dreamforce session was on September 18th at 9 a.m. And not surprising, it was the Community Keynote. So I actually got to see some faces and interact live with some people that I’d followed on Twitter, on Answers, whatever it might be. So this was when I first met face-to-face a lot of the folks that I know today.

Just a couple months later, I got a notification from Erika Kuhl in November that I had been inducted as a Salesforce MVP, huge moment in my Salesforce community and career personally. Since then I’ve been renewed, and I’ve been a Salesforce MVP now for three years, super honored to be part of that program working with other folks.

Next year, 2013, we shot our first ShellBlack Whiteboard series, which is what we’re doing today. We’re shooting Whiteboard series today. And that’s been great. We’ve got a little over two hours worth of content. I think 20 videos now. And I looked it up this weekend. We’ve had 42,000 views and almost 200,000 minutes of content watched (when we filmed this on February 15, 2015). So, we’re going to continue to make these because it seems like it’s being well-received. (UPDATE: 27 videos as of April 2015 ~60K Views and ~275K minutes of content watched)

ShellBlack Whiteboard Performance

And then in 2013, I became a Dreamforce speaker. Spoke last year as well.

So that’s it. That’s the story of how I found the community, how I got engaged, how I got involved, and how I became an MVP. So hope you enjoyed it. Thanks for tuning in, and we’ll talk to you soon.

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