Dreamforce is literally just a few weeks away and that means it is time to start planning. Dreamforce can be an overwhelming experience which is why I enlisted the help of the Salesforce MVP’s to come up with 30 Insider Dreamforce Tips & Tricks.
Whether you are a Dreamforce novice or repeat attendee, you’ll find some great suggestions and ideas. If you have a tip or trick that we didn’t suggest, leave a comment and share your knowledge!
1. Wear comfortable shoes – there is going to be a lot of walking and standing so do it in comfort. No joke. I’m wearing clean sneakers this year. Your body will thank you. Seriously.
2. Learn to layer – San Francisco can be chilly year round. Wearing layers can help keep you warm without adding extra bulk. Learn to layer and pack accordingly.
3. Ditch the laptop – leave your laptop at home. Seriously. For the last few years I have packed my laptop just in case but never once have I needed it. Bring a tablet instead – it gives you access to your emails while cutting down significantly on weight. If in dire straights, use the hotel’s business center to get some work done.
4. Purchase a battery bank – external charges are a great way to move about the city while getting a charge on your mobile device. Salesforce MVPs prefer LimeFuel, but others exist. Being relatively inexpensive, you won’t regret getting one. I use mine for all sorts of travel, including Dreamforce!
5. Don’t be an outlet hog – as we all know, outlets are hard to come by. If you are planning on using one, plan ahead and pack a power strip. You’ll make friends and won’t feel guilty about hogging the only outlet in the room.
6. Save room for free stuff – if you love free Salesforce gear, Dreamforce is an awesome place to get it. Leave room in your suitcase if possible. Otherwise, plan ahead and ship it home.
7. Get a game plan in place – outline the major things that you want to get done while at Dreamforce. This could be attending specific sessions, meeting friends or going to Alcatraz. Get these items prioritized so that when it comes time to build your agenda, scheduling won’t be too difficult.
8. Become one with your surroundings – San Francisco can be a confusing city to navigate and with so many people, it’s good to know your navigation options. Use Google maps to get familiar with the city before you arrive. It’s helpful to find your hotel in relation to Moscone and the other main hotels where sessions are being held. You may also want to bookmark some cafes or restaurants you want to check out.
9. Complete registration check-in early – once you arrive, try to get checked-in as early as possible – like Sunday. Lines tend to be short and the process easy. Monday afternoons are busy and chaotic. Either way, it’s required. Registration is where you’ll get your badge, Dreamforce bag, and some free goodies.
10. Know the transportation options -walking is one of the best ways to get around the city but if your feet get tired, know that there are shuttles between the major hotels and Moscone and pedicabs are prevalent (for a fee).
11. Update your Success Community profile – Dreamforce badges will have a space for your photo which will be pulled from your Success Community profile. Be sure that a good professional photo is uploaded beforehand.
12. Always wear your badge – in order to gain admittance to any part of Dreamforce, you need your badge. It will get you into every session and keynote presentation along with the Gala where Bruno Mars will be rockin’ the stage.
Agenda Builder & Sessions
13. Don’t overbook yourself – there is so much content that it is impossible to get it all in over the course of the week, but a lot of people try. I was one of them. My Dreamforce calendar had me double and triple booked. Last year, I registered for 5 sessions and attended 3 per day and I couldn’t have been happier. Give yourself breathing room. It will allow time to enjoy the city and grow your network.
14. Get out of your comfort zone – consider attending sessions that are more “advanced” than you think you are. You are smarter than you think which means that beginner level sessions will be boring. Register for some Advanced level sessions in your track and see what happens!
15. Use Evernote – Evernote is free and allows you to save images, handwriting, voice notes and more. It is a great way to remember what was discussed. Plus it syncs to the Cloud so notes can be easily accessed and shared with others.
16. Take photos of session title slides – add these images to Evernote. It’s a great reference to speaker names and Twitter handles and allows you to easily find the recording or specific Chatter group post-Dreamforce. I use a free app called Office Lens to capture awesome pictures – even from strange angles! (Download: Apple | Android)
17. Skip the customer story sessions – while interesting to listen to, it seems that the first half of the session was an introduction to the company and the remainder of the session was talking about how the company solved a specific business problem using Salesforce. These types of sessions just don’t offer enough beneficial content for me so I choose to spend my time elsewhere.
18. The 50/50 rule – the agenda builder is set to go live in September (safe harbor). Keep in mind that only 50% of the available seats can be booked through Agenda Builder. The other 50% will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis the day of the session. So don’t freak out you can’t reserve a seat. You’ll still be able to attend in person.
19. Attend roadmap sessions – almost all sessions are recorded and available online but there are select sessions that do not get recorded. Roadmap and True to the Core should be attended in person. Try to register for these first before any other sessions to secure a spot – they tend to be my favorite sessions each year.
20. There is plenty of passing time – most sessions will be 40 minutes this year and will be starting on the hour or half-hour. This means that there will be between 20 and 40 minutes between sessions.
21. Attend zero sessions – it may sound crazy, but there can be just as much value outside of a session. If you like to roll with the punches, try not booking any sessions and just go with the flow. You can drop in on a session that happens to be near you, or just hang out in one of the many zones. Some of my best learning has happened outside of the sessions.
22. Ask questions and be engaged – every session will have their own Chatter group which is the best place to ask questions of the speakers and other attendees. Don’t be afraid to post your question or respond to others. Dreamforce is a highly collaborative event and this is your time to get answers and insights. Engagement in these groups is a huge part of that.
23. Start on the outside – most attendees start the Expo in the middle which is where the large vendors and flashy booths are. Instead, start from the outside and work your way in. This is where the gems are. These smaller booths don’t have booth babes and will gladly show you a quick demo without being too heavy on the sales pitch.
24. Don’t be afraid to say “no” – your badge has a QR code on it that can be scanned by the trade show personnel to track who they talked to. Sometimes, the booth staff can be a little pushy and they’ll want to scan your badge without anything in return – even if you aren’t interested in their product. Remember that it is okay to say no!
25. Don’t throw your business card into every fishbowl – there are thousands of people trying to win cash and prizes. While many vendors have some awesome giveaways, it’s important to remember that we are viewed as potential leads. If you like getting sales calls from vendors, then this won’t be an issue but if you want to keep your phone from ringing off the hook, be selective with the fishbowls you offer your card to.
26. Download the necessary mobile apps – there are a ton of great apps that make the Dreamforce experience better and more engaging. I have recommended some apps in the past, but there are a ton that I may be forgetting about. If you have some recommendations, post a comment and let me know!
27. Hang out in all the zones – Dreamforce does a great job of creating areas or zones based on role. The most well-known area has been the DevZone where developers can get hands-on with the product. Don’t be shy about attending a zone if that isn’t your specialty. I am not a developer but always find some interesting things happening at the DevZone. This year Dreamforce will have an all-new AdminZone so be sure to check that out and perhaps spend an afternoon there.
28. Get free resources in the DevZone – I didn’t realize this existed until last year, but in the DevZone, you can pick up free print resources – and they aren’t just for developers. This is what I picked up last year: Salesforce1 Platform Developer Guide, Force.com Fundamentals, Visualforce in Practice, Mobile App Developer Guide, Salesforce1 App Admin Guide and about 6 laminated cheat sheets – all for free!
29. Business cards are a must – Every year I go through a small stack of business cards. When meeting new people, it is great to be able to get their card, write down a note on how and where you met and what you talked about on the back. Then, when you need to make contact, it’s easy to recall when, where, and how you met.
30. Breathe – There is a lot happening at Dreamforce but that doesn’t mean that you need to do it all. Take some time to sit in a bean bag and enjoy a conversation or go off campus and enjoy the city. If you don’t take some time to decompress, you’ll be totally exhausted by Wednesday and that makes for a long week.