Elevator Pitch for IT Professionals

“What do you do?”

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It’s the question many IT professionals dread, but sooner or later you know someone is going to ask what you do for a living.

There’s nothing wrong with our career choice, but it’s usually pretty tricky to explain what we do in a non-technical way.

How many times have you replied by saying you work in IT? I’m guessing it’s the exact same number of times you’ve watched the conversation die right there, unless of course you’re speaking to another IT worker.

Thankfully, there is a better way to get across your line of work without the other person’s eyes glazing over.

Spark curiosity

When someone asks what you do, you don’t have to answer with a job title. The trick is to provide a tempting little slice of information that’s vague enough to stimulate curiosity and get the other person wanting to know more.

For example, instead of saying you work in IT, you could say, “I help businesses improve their customer experience.”

That might provoke a question such as, “Oh okay, what does that entail? Are you a consultant of some kind?”

Don’t just say Yes (or No)!

Instead of replying in the affirmative/negative then giving your job title, ask another question to get the person talking.

Continuing the above example, you could ask, “Well, as a customer yourself, you know how buying something can be a really frustrating experience?”

At that point the conversation could come to life as the other person responds with something like, “Tell me about it! The other day I was trying to buy a new TV online and whenever I tried to checkout it kept rejecting my credit card. I know the card was fine because I’d just used it to fill up my car.”

Ask more questions

“So what happened? Did you manage to get it through?”

“No, I was so frustrated I abandoned it and tried another site. I had to pay £5 more on the delivery charge but the payment went straight through with no problems. My new TV was delivered this morning and I love it. I’m planning a Netflix binge this weekend.”

You now have an opportunity to steer the conversation a little more and explain what you do for a living with a real-world example.

You don’t just work in IT

Okay, it may not go as smoothly as I’ve illustrated here, but you can see how describing your job from a business or end-user perspective can be a much better conversation starter than, “I’m a DevOps Technical Lead” or “I’m a Postgres DBA”.

With a little practice, this technique can be highly effective.

Of course, if you know the other person is in IT, to avoid annoying them you’re probably better off just coming out and saying “I’m an enterprise architect” or “I’m a Node.js developer”.

Give it a try!

 

Photo by Riccardo Annandale on Unsplash

Summer ’18 Maintenance on Trailhead

A step in the right direction?

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Summer ’18 Release Maintenance is now on Trailhead for the following certifications:

I completed all three modules this weekend, and I personally think moving the process of certification maintenance to Trailhead from WebAssessor makes perfect sense.

However, Trailhead cert maintenance is definitely more time consuming than the old way. The WebAssessor maintenance exams were unproctored, so it was very easy to consult the release notes or Google something you weren’t sure of. On Trailhead, in addition to answering multiple-choice questions, you’re also quite likely to face a hands-on challenge testing your knowledge of new functionality – and you must complete this in order to maintain your credentials.

The Platform App Builder module in the Summer ’18 Release contains a hands-on challenge. If you know what you’re doing and are confident with Visual Workflow, you won’t find it difficult, but it will take you at least 30-45 minutes to complete.

Some people will find this a nuisance, but I think it’s a step in the right direction. Instead of just winging the maintenance exams, it forces us all to really take note of the new functionality – which should ultimately benefit our clients.

Photo by Holly Mandarich on Unsplash.

BA (Honours) in Leadership and Management

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It’s been a long time since I updated this blog, as I have been busy with lots of other things besides Open University study. However, I wanted to share some news with the thousands of people who have visited and/or continue to visit this blog for information and/or inspiration.

After six years of study I finally got my degree. If I can do it, with all the other things I had going on in my life during that time, then believe me … anyone can do it. I truly mean that. It’s my graduation ceremony this weekend, marking the successful conclusion of my OU journey. (At least for now!)

What next for this blog? Well, I’m considering adding to it on a more regular basis and making it about much more than just academic study. If you look at my About page, you will see this was something I always intended to do. Let’s see if I can finally make that happen!

Good luck with your studies!

The Never-Ending Salesforce Learning Journey

The learning never stops with Salesforce!

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Approaching the mothership: The ‘Salesforce Tower’ at 110 Bishopsgate, London.

I work in the Salesforce ecosystem as a Solution Architect, and am well aware of how regular changes to the platform (three releases per year) mean we are all on a constant learning journey.

It’s not just about frequent releases, there are also many different products that work together to make up the Salesforce Customer Success platform, and Salesforce Consulting Partners are increasingly insisting that their consultants be certified for those products before they can work on real client projects.

Getting certified means studying and learning – therefore, I’m going to start writing about my experience with Salesforce certifications here on this blog.

I’m also going to be sharing Salesforce tips when I discover something that I think may be useful to others working in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Tolstoy’s Wave

In whatever direction a ship moves the flow of waves it cuts will always be noticeable ahead of it … When the ship moves in one direction there is one and the same wave ahead of it, when it turns frequently the wave ahead of it also turns frequently. But wherever it may turn there always will be the wave anticipating its movement. Whatever happens it appears that just that event was foreseen and decreed. Wherever the ship may go, the rush of water which neither directs nor increases its movement foams ahead of it, and at a distance seems not merely to move of itself but to govern the ship’s movement also.

Tolstoy’s bow-wave metaphor for leadership provokes some interesting questions. Are leaders merely figureheads, propelled by events beyond their control even though it appears the events are controlled by them?

Leaders are in front of those they lead, but are they pulling or are they being pushed? Can you be a leader without followers? Do followers make leaders by being followers? Are leaders and followers just part of a virtuous/vicious circle feedback-loop? Must there be a leader before there are followers? Do organisations need leaders in order to be successful, or are we just used to the idea of having them?

– Grint (1997), cited in Billsberry (2009).