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Resources for Learning Salesforce

Welcome back!

Today we are going to talk about the resources that you can use to learn Salesforce. While you may expecting me to reel off a list of numerous websites, YouTube channels, or courses, I first have a question for you.

How do you learn?

It's vitally important to choose resources that suit your learning style. I quickly discovered in my sales career that everyone has their preferred modality of communication, some people are visual, some auditory, and some kinaesthetic. You can get a good idea of someone's communication method by the words they use when speaking with them, a great example of this is when you check someone's understanding of a concept you have been discussing. They will often use phrases such as "I see what you mean", "I hear what you are saying", or "I feel like I understand", these are great insights into how best to communicate and establish rapport with them quickly. It's highly unusual that someone will use just one method, most people will have two although one will be the primary way in which they see the world.

There are loads of websites you can use to figure out what your communication and learning style is, simply search for "VAK Learning Style Test" and you'll have hundreds to go at. I do suspect that you may know your preferred method already, or at least have a strong suspicion. Finding out how you learn will enable you to optimise your study and maximise your knowledge retainment.

My primary modality is visual, my secondary is kinaesthetic. I learn best by reading documentation or books and can usually recall a fair amount of information after my first read, I build on this by highlighting and making notes along the way. There are other methods and techniques that I use to increase my effectiveness and we will delve into them at a later time, for now, I just want to highlight the three modalities. Further proof of this is my love for reading, however, I have tried multiple attempts to switch from physical books to ebooks, but I just can't do it. I love the feel of the pages as I flick through a book, the coarseness of the paper on my fingertips, and the smell of a new book when you first open it. I don't get the same buzz when I try to read on a kindle and more often than not lose interest after a couple of reading sessions. I've tried Audible and while I do enjoy listening to books on runs, walks and when commuting to the office, I find that I struggle to retain that information, it just goes in one ear and out the other!

This means that I focus on reading through documentation, making notes, and utilising Trailhead and Dev Orgs. I know many people who learn through watching YouTube videos, listening to Podcasts, or simply having someone walkthrough and demo the subject matter but for me, my mind wanders. I have a short attention span and if I don't anchor or engage myself my mind wanders, maybe you're the same?

Once you know how you learn, you can then start putting together your list of resources, here is a shortlist of what I would expect for each modality, but before I list them, here's a disclaimer. I am no expert, I am no smarter than the average bear, these are just my observations and assumptions;

Visual: Salesforce Documentation, YouTube Videos, Udemy Courses and Focus On Force notes.

Auditory: YouTube Videos, Podcasts, and Udemy Courses.

Kinaesthetic: Trailhead Trailmixes, Personal Dev Orgs that you can use to practice, and classes in which you follow along as the instructor teaches.

My caveat here is that in order to pass any Salesforce exam you must have hands-on experience. Trailhead should be your first port of call, but then you should look at building and breaking things in your own Dev Org. While the aim is to pass your Salesforce exam, there is no way of doing so without getting that hands-on experience to fully understand each concept and once you pass the exam, you must be able to use the knowledge that you have gained effectively.

On top of these resources, there are multiple blogs that offer great insights and clear explanations for anything that you may be unsure of, and the Trailblazer Community is packed with helpful souls who will be more than willing to help. For myself here are the main resources that I use to study and pass my Salesforce Certifications;

  • Trailhead - Trailhead is an incredible platform where you can get real hands-on experience. By getting hands-on and implementing the concepts you are learning, you will help solidify that knowledge and lock it in. What's also fantastic is that as you go through these trails you are bound to screw up and you will have to figure out a solution that further tests your knowledge. Super badges are an excellent test of your skills and you should be comfortable completing them.

  • Salesforce Documentation - Salesforce provides excellent documentation that you can study, you will find all of the key concepts covered and real facts and figures when it comes to limitations and considerations for Salesforce features. Salesforce documentation essentially becomes my bible when studying for any Salesforce Certification.

  • Focus on Force - Focus on Force is a website that condenses most of the Salesforce Documentation into manageable, easy-to-understand chunks. It also has excellent mocks that are pretty similar in structure to what you can expect in the exam, meaning that you can get a bit more of an understanding of what to expect in the actual exam.

  • Personal Dev Org - I would always recommend that you set up your own personal Dev Org to play around with, for certain certifications, this is a must. There is no way you can get enough hands-on experience using only Trailhead for certifications like CPQ of FSL, however, by setting up your own Dev Org you can really play around and break stuff to further your understanding.

So there you have it, at this point we know what we need to study and we also know our primary modality of learning, using this information we can now collate our resources and put together our study plan. While this step may not seem as glamorous as the others, I assure you this is vitally important. We all remember being in class at school, the teacher waffling on, lecturing at us about covalent bonds or the linguistic features of Hamlet, expecting us to be listening, internalising that information when in actual fact, we were staring out the window, counting down the minutes, the seconds until we could escape that room and do something more entertaining. Or perhaps it was going through page after page of that Physics textbook, looking down at the page, and rather than seeing formulas or principles that made sense we just saw a jumbled up collection of letters or numbers that didn't mean anything. It's because we weren't playing to our strengths, I was that boy sat in class while the teacher rambled on not making any sense but as soon as I saw it written down, in text, I could read it and understand it. I could highlight, make notes and rearrange the order of formulas to use them.

There are various study techniques that we will explore next time that will aid you on your journey. These techniques will help you remember what you are learning, fully understand the content, and more importantly, help you recall that information when you need it most.

For now find out how you learn and tailor your studies to that modality, if you are visual and auditory then YouTube Videos and Udemy courses will be your staple if you more kinaesthetic then make sure you get plenty of hands-on experience through Trailhead and your own Dev Orgs. Whatever your preferred method you must get hands-on. It all about playing to your strengths, as the famous saying goes... work smarter, not harder!

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