As you may have heard, Dreamforce has become the largest event of its kind. For me, it’s one of the most exciting times of the year — I learn a ton, I make new connections, renew distant friendships, and am inspired by Marc Benioff’s leadership and his keynote friends. (Never mind that it’s just downright fun.)
And kudos to salesforce.com for making it all fit in San Francisco — even though it’s busting at the seams to contain all the great people, sessions, and resources. Here are a few ideas to help you make the most of your time.
- Set goals low. Of course you and your boss should have some objectives in attending Dreamforce, but go with the “under-promise, over-deliver” approach. Now that’s not an excuse to sandbag it and focus on the numerous parties throughout the week. I’m suggesting that because Dreamforce can be overwhelming, allow yourself to go with the flow. You will still gain enormous benefits from the conference — things you never even thought of — and won’t be disappointed that you missed half the sessions you signed up for, especially since sessions can be found on YouTube after the event.
- Bookmark sessions to watch on YouTube after Dreamforce. While there are shuttle buses to make it easy to get around the “campus,” be conservative with the number of sessions you expect to attend. If you find yourself with free time, there’s a good chance you can find a session of interest to you rather than scrambling to get to a session in a different building.
- Leave your laptop. While wifi and power outlets abound, you’ll spend more time worrying about losing the laptop than you will using it. If you need to keep in touch with the office and can’t do it with a smartphone, use Dreamforce as an excuse to buy a new iPad Air or one of those fancy Android tablets if you don’t already have one. Dreamforce is certain to have some exciting news on the mobile-first strategy, so you might even be able to expense a tablet as a “pilot project.” Be aware, trying to connect to the Wifi can be a struggle.
- Put down your smartphone. Now that I’ve told you to leave the laptop, yes, I am also recommending putting down your smartphone as well. To me, the greatest benefit from Dreamforce is getting to know so many really smart people who have similar passions, problems, and solutions. While you’re waiting for a session to start, turn to the person next to you and strike up a conversation.
- Get into the Zones. This year we’ll see the return of the Admin Zone, the SMB Zone, the Community Success Zone, and the Industry Zone. They each offer content targeted at the respective audience as well as areas to recharge your batteries, both figuratively and literally.
- Get to know the Community. Beyond all the hype, Salesforce is a remarkably innovative company. They’ve built a community of people — myself included — who are passionate about the company and its products. This band of brothers and sisters volunteer their time to run user groups, answer questions, give back to nonprofits, and much more. How can a company inspire so much volunteerism? As a salesperson, marketer, or customer service person, go to Dreamforce and see how this leadership, vision, and energy can be applied to your business.
- Dress for comfort. The dress code at Dreamforce has the emphasis less on the Business and more on the Casual. The “campus” spans several hotels and the weather is unpredictable, so you won’t be judged.
- Have fun! Take a cue from Marc Benioff and wear some crazy socks or some blinged-out hightops. Marc doesn’t take himself too seriously, which sets the tone for the entire week. And this is San Francisco, one of the most liberal cities in the nation, so be prepared to see some crazy stuff. Some people make a great personal statement by wearing flashy neon running shoes or a classy beanie. I even saw an offer to have a partner’s logo spray-painted on your head. In general, embrace the light-hearted atmosphere and have fun. Oh, that reminds me: “fresh” off his successful Super Bowl halftime show Bruno Mars is is playing a concert on Tuesday night, which you won’t want to miss!
If you’re planning to attend, feel free to get in touch with me to talk about your goals or simply to say “hi!” I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.