Have you ever felt like you’re flailing out in space with nothing to ground you? When I first entered the world of consulting, I felt this way. Luckily, I had a great team of mentors at Silverline who have helped me develop into a strong consultant. Now, I’m happy to share the knowledge in a new series of blog posts composed by me and my fellow Silverline Academy graduates. Consider these posts a “Guide to the Galaxy for New Salesforce Consultants.” First things first, here are a few tips you should keep in mind as you begin your career.
1. Think Before You Do
Think critically about the work. Sometimes you need to understand what is standing behind the requirements and requests. Think through the task rather then jumping in to execute. A better understanding of requirements and how they are tied to the business process will lead to better solutions. This will also help to avoid any misunderstanding between you and your client.
2. Choose Where to Excel
You have to realize that you are just getting started and you won’t be awesome at everything from day one. Try everything, then chose an area that makes you happy and excel at it. Once you are good at one thing, you will automatically start picking up momentum. Remember, baby steps. You are here for a reason; don’t lose confidence in yourself, ever!
3. Be Aware of Your Assumptions
We make assumptions about everything and everyone based on our own perception of reality and our life experiences thus far. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned as a new consultant has been to recognize when I’m making assumptions and act in a way that doesn’t allow my assumptions to impede the success of projects.
That often means asking detailed questions. Ask questions about when a task is due, what color the font on a page should be, or whether or not someone understands your instructions. It also means listening to someone else without interrupting, even if you think you know what he or she will say. By checking your own assumptions you can often catch minor errors before they escalate and become unmanageable.
4. Avoid Deadly Deadlines
It’s tempting to see everything that has to be done before the end of the week, before tomorrow, before the end of the day as nothing less than the worst thing that has ever happened. Things must be done now and any potential roadblocks must be destroyed with prejudice – which is an excellent way to get on the bad side of your coworkers. An EOD deadline is not always a “serious problem that must be addressed.” While there are scenarios where you need to work late into the evening to finish a task, you’re likely not in one. Remember to: take your time; ask for help from someone more experienced; and prioritize your tasks to make more time for immediate deadlines.
And never forget to communicate with your teammates when you have to recommit. Deadlines are rarely etched in stone. The earlier you let team members know that a deadline may not be met, the better. This will make it less likely that you’ll be face-to-face with a client holding a big pile of nothing but excuses (not that that’s ever happened!). For your health and sanity, err on the side of calm; deadlines aren’t worth panicking over. Unless they are — Then you must fly, you fool!
5. Don’t Just Take Time Off From Work, Take Time Away From Work
It can be tempting to consider all the breaks, lunches, activities and after-hour socials as your ‘off time’ that will rejuvenate you and keep you focused. While those at-work reposes are extremely helpful in breaking up those long days of staring at your computer, they are not a substitute for time truly taken away from your work environment. It is absolutely necessary to spend time away from colleagues, away from your work space and away from anything that brings work to the forefront of your mind. This doesn’t have to be a week long vacation, or even a weekend. It could simply be an evening; working out, dinner with friends (that do NOT know what Salesforce is). Just a couple of hours where work does not take precedence. You will find that removing yourself entirely from work will allow you to come back refreshed and ready to tackle anything headed your way.
6. Ask Questions
My biggest piece of advice for any junior consultant is to not be afraid to say “I don’t know.” At this stage no one is expecting you to know everything. When you don’t know something, ask questions, Google it, or talk to others. There is so much knowledge out there and your answer is often a question or a conversation away.
7. “No” Means “No”
When you first start your new job, you will want to make sure everyone knows that you are an incredible worker. You will try to impress others by taking on every task that comes your way. As a new hire the word “no” seems to not be in your vocabulary, yet it should be. Taking on more than you can handle can negatively impact the quality of work. There is nothing worse than promising someone you can work on his/her task only to later report that you have made no progress. Telling others you won’t have time for a task is not a negative attribute. It shows that you know how to manage your time and want to produce quality work.
8. Go From Getting Crushed to Crushing It
Be prepared to get thrashed around a bit, but while you do embrace it and remember the end goal. The “why” that brought you here in the first place. This may sound like some kind of sick mentality but hear me out…
You know the work is going to be hard and will most likely get harder. This means that if you are determined enough you will grow strong and confident in your ability. You will get through the pains; the hard feedback, the hours of documentation…you may even find yourself sleeping with project plans that you spent hours preparing. That is ok because you cannot expect to walk to where you want to be; you can only fight to get there. So be flexible and focus on the end result. At times it may seem seem like you’re taking minor, tedious steps, but in actuality are these are the necessary steps to get you where you want to be — an excellent Salesforce consultant. Get knocked down and show everyone how you get back up.
Interested in becoming a Salesforce consultant? Click here to learn about Silverline Academy; a competitive program designed to turn recent graduates into outstanding Salesforce consultants.