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Know Your Answers Community Leaders- Brian Makas

Being Inspired by Blog Series – Kevin Bacon by Eric ,Girly Geek By Lauren ,Admin Hero By Brent  & the Answers Community forum of which I have been part from a long time,I decided to put a blog series on our awesome Salesforce Answers Community Leaders.

I hope that Salesforce Community Members,Learners,Aspirants,Experts and others will get motivated and inspired by the Stories of  our Community Leaders and will help them know better our Leaders who are addicted to answering their questions.
Special thanks to Eric and Phoebe  for helping me for getting started.

IMG_0899 So here I am with my third  post in this Series introducing –Brian Makas.
You can connect with him on Twitter , and our  Success community as well.



Tell Us About Yourself ?

I’m a Director of Marketing Technology  working out of New York City and have been working with since 2006.IMG_0902

When we first brought in house we had two very simple goals.  First of all we needed a place to make a list of all of our prospects and
advertisers available to our sales reps located across the United States and Canada. Secondly we needed to be able to clearly communicate when new prospects raised their hand requesting a conversation with a sales rep. Salesforce was a very different system back in 2006 without APEX, Visualforce or most of the tools we take for granted today but we were still able to quickly give our sales reps the information they need.  Saying that we’ve been expanding on our use of Salesforce ever since would understate it’s value … over the years Salesforce has not only become the backbone of marketing and sales efforts but it’s rapidly expanded into a broad variety of other departments as well.


When Did You Start Answering?

I’ve been involved in the answers community and its Twitter equivalent #AskForce on and off since they were first released but only recently made a IMG_0898
point of making time for it.  Re-inspired from a brief conversation with Steve Molis at Dreamforce I now spend a good percentage of my commute answering questions.  One advantage of commuting from NJ to NYC every day is that I have a couple hours a day to myself and while I may be a bit curt in my responses plus have more than my fair share of typos, thankfully the answers community is as understanding as the site itself is mobile friendly.

What Inspired You To Do So ?

As far as to the why, there’s a number of reasons while I’m involved.IMG_0901

The main (and admittedly selfish) reason I invest my time is to find better ways to leverage Salesforce for my own use.  Every question has a story behind it and by digging in to see why someone is having a given problem I’ve not only come up with countless (or should I say stolen countless) ways of improving our own use of Salesforce but I can also react very quickly when my own team/users encounter the same challenges.  It’s also great to be able to give back.  I’ve been involved with Salesforce for nearly 10 years now and while many aspects of the system have simply become intuitive I enjoy giving others the jump start they need to start taking full advantage of it as well.


Any Tips For Our Community Users & The Contributors?

To anyone else looking to become more involved in the answers community my advice is simple, just do it.  There’s no wrong way or right way to answer questions and in fact it’s the variety of different approaches that make the community so powerful.IMG_0900

My personal approach is to break questions into three buckets:

  • Many questions are straight forward (well straight forward if you know what to look for anyway) and can be answered with a simple link. Why reinvent the wheel when other have tackled the same problems before?
  • Sometimes people jump over the why to get to the how and I like to probe for more details and provide alternative means of addressing the same issue. It may not win me a high percentage of “best answers” but it’s a great way to highlight fact that there’s many ways to solve the same problem and can sometimes save some really big headaches caused by going down a functional but less than ideal route.
  • If I can get to the bottom of an issue and it’s clear there’s no easy answer I dive deeper and take the time to explain what I’d do in the same situation .

I also follow a strict 1,2,3 system of recommendations: build it, buy it, code it.  Some people take offense at my jump to paid offerings but I assure you I’m not getting a commission on any posts … I just know from experience that paid solutions are there because there’s a clear need and any dollars spent are often paid back many times over in manpower saved.  That’s why we all use Salesforce instead of trying to build our own CRM, right?

But my approach isn’t for everyone.  I have tremendous respect for those that take the time to include very detailed step-by-step instructions (like Deepak Anand), add humor into the mix (like the legendary Steve Molis) as well as those that take a more measured approach and have a remarkable double digit “best answer” close rate (like Geoffrey Flynn).

I’d also like to give a personal thank you to Jeff May for taking the time offline to help me make better use the site and of course thank you for taking the time to share the stories of the real people behind the answers.  Honestly while I could go on for hours about the amazing members of the community I’ve met online and at various Salesforce events there’s very, very little I can say against it.

In short, it may seem at first glance that answering questions is a chore but in fact it’s quite the opposite.  Jump in, do your own thing and reciprocity will kick in before you know it.  There’s no better way to learn/maintain your Salesforce skills then to be involved in a broad variety of issues and delivers that in spades.