10 Tips To Get The Most Out of Salesforce.com Dreamforce
Dreamforce is a spectacular event, but its also a big investment for attendees. Forget about the admission fee and travel related expenses, the real investment is a week of your time. And with hundreds of sessions across a six block radius it takes some planning if you are to maximize your investment. Here’s my top 10 tips to get the most from your Dreamforce experience.
Register early. Sessions fill quickly and the more popular sessions will fill to capacity several weeks before Dreamforce kicks off. With the sheer size of this event, you’ll need to consider logistics, locations and the time available between sessions so that you don’t have to sprint a few blocks in only a few minutes to arrive on time. You probably won’t be able to make every session you want, but fortunately most sessions (but not the roadmap sessions) are recorded and posted to YouTube for later viewing. Also, once you arrive, check-in the day before things kick off and you’ll avoid the crowds and lines checking in on the starting day.
Make Dreamforce a win for your entire company. Not everyone in your company can go to the big gala. It can be a budget constraint or some people just have to stay behind to keep the lights on. In advance of your trip, reach out to key Salesforce.com constituents that aren’t making the journey – users, managers, admins, IT staff – and find out if they have burning questions or key requests that you can fill as their on-the-scene scout. For any pressing requests, find the sessions or vendor booths in advance and work them into your schedule.
Download the Dreamforce app. You can access it with your registration logon. It’s an effective tool in filtering through the more than 750 sessions and it includes Chatter for networking with friends and followers.
Arrive to sessions early. Several of the most popular sessions generate lines waiting to get into the room, and if you’re not there near the start, you can lose your reservation to others who are there waiting to get in. At the same time be sure to pace yourself. Dreamforce is a marathon, not a sprint.
Be social and begin networking early. Creating and nurturing professional and personal relationships is by far the most valuable conference benefit for many attendees. And you can begin your networking well before Dreamforce begins. Consider following people with like interests. Chatter will make recommendations of people to follow. Check out what groups they belong to and see if those groups might be right for you. If you’re attending with work colleagues, don’t seclude yourself with just the people you already know. Don’t be shy, and break out of your comfort zone. Proactively meet others, compare notes and expand your social sphere. You’re likely to make a few friends that will impact how you use and benefit from your Salesforce.com application. Remember, CRM is about creating relationships.
Follow the twitterstream. Whether you’re looking for key take away points from the keynotes, attendee reactions to certain topics or sessions, or just trying to find the best afterparty spot after a long day of sessions, filter through the event and sponsor hashtags for an up to the minute update. Start off with #df12, but also seek out other related Dreamforce hashtags.
Tracking between locations can wear you down so its important to refuel and stay hydrated. You’re normally not far from a Starbucks, Jamba Juice or other beverage location, but because of the lines you may be better served by carrying your own refillable water bottle. Staying hydrated during the days pays off even more if you attend the after parties during the nights.
Pack light. There are a sea of partner booths in the cloud expo and with nearly every one of them giving something away — product collaterals, reports, DVDs, books, logo’d shirts, Frisbees, funky flashlights, raffled equipment, tchotchkes of all types, maybe even an iPad — you can quickly accumulate a small mass of paraphernalia that consumes big space during the trip home. I always grab a few of squeeze toys or stuffed animals to take home for the kids, and they’re always well received.
Attending the fiestas is part of the experience. Looking for the best Dreamforce parties? There’s an app for that. CrashCloud also put out a good Dreamforce party list. Several party sponsors use your LinkedIn profile to register, and the parties do fill up, so you risk being turned away if you don’t register in advance.
Share The Experience. Consider posting your photos to a Flickr stream or Facebook page, share your opinions on a blog post or feel free to comment and share your experience on the Dreamforce conference review blog post coming to this website shortly after the event.
Onsite events such as Dreamforce can be an excellent opportunity to break out of the usual office environment and network with peers, liaise with experts, discover new learning and ultimately increase your CRM software investment payback. Webinars are great, and virtual conferences have a place, but there’s clearly no substitute for the onsite, face to face interactions of a well-run customer conference.
Have your own tips on how to maximize the Dreamforce experience? I’d love to hear them.
Don’t be shy, and break out of your comfort zone to proactively meet others, compare notes and expand your social sphere. You’re likely to make a few friends that may impact how you use and benefit from your Salesforce.com application. Remember, CRM is about creating relationships.