Clock’s ticking…we’re rounding 3rd…coming down the stretch to DF15. Last week I wrote about being Dreamforce Ready. In it, I shared a number of great resources to help you make the most of your Dreamforce. However, this event is such a big deal it can’t be covered in a single post. This time around my focus is on the value of attending. Dreamforce is fun, but if you’re coming just for the “free” drinks and swag, you’re missing the point. Someone, maybe you, is paying for travel, lodging, meals and more over your stay. By all means, enjoy yourself, but put your game face on and get the important stuff done.
There will be well over 100,000 people so it’s the proverbial fish in a barrel scenario. You have try REALLY hard not to meet someone new. Actually, if you don’t meet double-digit new faces, of which you should come away with 5 new connections on LinkedIn (even better if you double or triple up and find each other on the Success Community and/or Twitter). The Community is approaching 2 million members and is constantly teaching/learning from one another. Make sure you personalize your connection requests. It goes a long way and could be the difference between a new connection and being forgotten. Use the person’s name and replace the canned message provided with some short reference to where/how you met and preferably why you two should connect.
Despite the ease of connecting digitally, you still can’t be the speed you can exchange a business card, especially when people are running from one session to the next. This is why old school business cards are not quite dead — yet as suggested on Forbes. That said, if you can connect digitally up front, then skip the card. When you can’t, make sure you put a short note on any cards you receive describing the person and the nature of your introduction and conversation. This will help you remember the context of your meeting and personalize your request to connect later…which you should not delay. The key point in the Forbes link above is that cards are static and people change jobs like it’s…well…our job! Therefore, as soon as you reasonably can, solidify the connection you just made in person by connecting online.
The biggest value we get from Dreamforce in addition to making new connections and maintaining existing ones, is the education. Strip away all the extracurricular activities and you are left the core value of Dreamforce. Learn something new. This can be net new information or learning how to do something a differently that adds value to your skill-set and your organization. Make sure you take notes. Sure, most sessions are recorded, not including roadmaps, but you see and hear so much more in person. Hands-on Training sessions (HOTs) are not recorded either. HOTs give you exactly what they suggests, a hands-on experience in a specific area of Salesforce.
Session recordings and slides are great resources, but you have your own distinct way of retaining information and converting it into knowledge. Don’t take for granted that you’ll remember to lookup this and that. Write stuff down and relate it to how you can improve what you do on a daily basis with it in your role. Share it with your colleagues with a nice summary or brown bag. Going this extra step will not only benefit your colleagues, but will again reinforce what you learn and permanently store the knowledge for later use.
To recap, here are the key takeaways as you make your final preparations for Dreamforce:
- Make connections and follow-up with them after you leave
- Bring plenty of business cards, you’ll need them
- Put a short note on any business cards received to better remember the interaction
- Personalize your LinkedIn connection requests (see bullet two above)
- Learn something new, take notes, apply and share when you get home
With one month till Dreamforce kicks off, how ready are you? Have you taken the best points from the numerous “how to do Dreamforce right” posts to get yourself right for one busy week? If you’re not already aware, there is an amazing community that wants to help you with your everyday job as well as making the most of your Dreamforce experience. Just read any of the following posts covering a range of tips and tricks for making your Dreamforce attendance justifiable, efficient and enjoyable:
- The Best of DF15 by Kelly Bentubo
- Dreamforce 2015 – Where to Sleep at Dreamforce? by Elizabeth Davidson
- Get Ready for Dreamforce by Trailhead (gamified prep includes a badge for completing this trail)
- Getting Ready for Dreamforce! by Phillip Southern
- How Salesforce Admins Prep for Dreamforce by Mike Gerholdt a.k.a. The ButtonClick Admin
- My Top 5 Must Haves at Dreamforce by Ryan Headley
- Scheduling Your Time at Dreamforce for Maximum Awesomeness by Brent Downey a.k.a. The Admin Hero
- The Gentleman’s Guide to Attending Dreamforce by Michael Farrington
- Top 10 Reasons to Attend Dreamforce 2015 by Eric Dreshfield
- Why Salesforce admins must attend Dreamforce? by Johan Yu
- Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Register for Dreamforce by Brian Kwong a.k.a. The Salesforce Wizard
This is just a small sample of the effort put forth by the Salesforce community to help one another. Salesforce also jumps into the act with live broadcasts in the weeks leading up to its marquee event called the Road to Dreamforce to share information about activites during the event as well as pre and post conference to-dos. As you can see, there is no shortage of resources to prepare you for Dreamforce. Whether it’s for your first time or tenth time, each year brings something different and new so no two conferences are alike and therefore you have an opportunity to improve how you prepare from one year to the next. As the conference attendance has grown to well over a 100,000 attendees, logistics navigating to/from and during Dreamforce has become part science, part art.
So in addition to many great tips provided by the authors in the list above, remember to pack your patience and common sense. There will be delays. They’re never intended, are they? Be courteous to your fellow attendees and to those working the event. We’re all busy at the event and have a hundred things to accomplish daily, but that does not give us license to be rude. The line at Starbucks (all of them) will be long so get there early or try one of the many other coffee shops and cafes for your caffeine fix. You just might find your secret oasis in the sea of coffee fiends. Many of us will descend upon San Francisco from the clouds. Therefore, travel smart. Pack as much as you can in your checked and carry-on luggage to shorten your time in the security line and to help everyone else behind you move through as quickly as possible. No one enjoys the process so get TSA Pre✓®, Global Entry or get yourself ready for the x-ray/body scan machines before you need to separate yourself from your luggage to pass through to your departing gate. Here’s a quick checklist to keep in mind:
- Be patient – you’re not the only one going somewhere
- Be nice – knuckleheads aside, everyone deserves basic respect
- Be adventurous – Starbucks is not the only place that serves coffee
- Be prepared – Make your security process as short and painless as you can
- Be prepared bonus – Check-in for your flights BEFORE you get to the airport
Lastly, enjoy your time at Dreamforce. Check out any of the posts listed here (and those not) for fantastic tips on making the most of your experience. If there are any great DF prep resources not included in this post, add them to the comments below. See you in a month. Are you Dreamforce Ready?
Now that Connections 2014 has wrapped up, I’d like to take a moment to look back at a great week for the following reasons:
- Education – This should always be the priority when attending these conferences
- Networking – It is called Connections after all. Might as well make some
- Entertainment – After many hours of running from one session to the next, it’s nice to unwind
Knowledge is power and so is understanding how to use it. If training is offered, take it. Deep dive training tracks usually come at an extra cost. Grab one if it fits your budget. However, there typically are several shorter training sessions that are included with your conference pass. I was able to take advantage of both this week and glad I did. I left CNX14 knowing more than I did going in.
In a couple weeks, I’ll be attending Dreamforce in San Francisco. Once again, I’m grabbing as many Hands-on Training Sessions (HOTs) as I can manage. These are among the most popular and highly attended sessions. Grab one if you can.
One major announcement that will allow me to continue learning and expanding my skills is the new Marketing Cloud Developer Edition. For the first time ever, anyone can get access to a developer account with ExactTarget. This great for those looking to broaden their command of the core application as well as extend functionality through custom development. To learn more about what you can do with your new account, check out Getting Started with ExactTarget Marketing Cloud development.
Mingle. Knowledge isn’t the only new thing you should walk away with. Bring cards, use LinkedIn and other means to engage with people and share ideas. One of the things that makes Salesforce Community so strong is the community itself where we learn as much from each other as we do from the official guides and online help.
CNX14 had a great lineup starting with local band Dude!, will.i.am, The Script, DJ Casey Connor and Walk the Moon. will.i.am even performed LIVE with a wearable prototype that allowed him to DJ from his wrist! All the acts were at a minimum, entertaining and energetic. It’s nice to wrap up a long day with some great entertainment.
All in all it was a week we’ll spent. I am looking forward to Connections ’15 in New York!
Day 3 was packed with product keynotes and feature specific content. Data was, is and always will be the key. Especially, when we’re talking about people. It’s who you know, not what you know. How well do you know your customers and how can you leverage that information to enhance their experience with your products and retain their patronage? A recurring theme throughout the day was personalization and how every individual is the target market instead simple groups of similar people. It was great to hear firsthand accounts from several organizations how they are engaging customers with relevant information at the right time using the tools in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud.
Today is the 4th and final day of Connections. There are several keynotes and one last chance to visit the Expo floor, including the Developer Zone where I’ll be. Tomorrow I’ll summarize the week as a whole.
You have just taken your first step in the journey with the Marketing Cloud…and in just a few minutes, you will receive an activation email for your free Developer Edition.
Those words brought a tear to my eye. If you haven’t heard, you can now get your very own Developer Account in the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud. This is awesome news for those looking to unlock and extend the power of ExactTarget. All around it was another great day of learning and connecting.
Another cool development happened during the music festival with will.i.am performing and DJing LIVE from his wrist!! It wasn’t without it’s quirks, but he handled it like a BOSS and it was even more impressive as his fully load laptop actually crashed forcing him to rely on the wrist DJ (the death stares his tech guy got as he tried to fix the laptop on stage suggests this was NOT staged. If it was, it was REALLY good acting). The Script and DJ Casey Connor also put on excellent performances.
Monday was the first day of ExactTarget Connections. There are only a few activities available on day one, which is mostly about getting here, registration and prepping to roll through the meat of the conference on Tuesday and Wednesday. I was fortunate enough to find one activity that is as valuable as just about any you will find here by attending a training session. Whenever I attend any kind of trade show or work related conference, my number one priority is learning something new. Mission accomplished and we’re just getting started! As much fun as the entertainment and parties can be, it’s all about knowledge.
If you’re not attending CNX14 and saving yourself for Dreamforce next month, make sure you maximize your agenda by grabbing at least one Hands-on Training Session (HOT). The fill up fast so if you don’t get the one you want, favorite it and keep checking to see if new ones are added. The most popular HOTs are likely to be repeated. A limited number of walk-ups are held in reserve so even if you can’t lock one in, you still have a good chance of getting in. If you go the “stand-by” route, it is recommended to arrive early to be at the front of the line. There’s always a few no shows, but don’t rely on that if you really need to get in on a particular training session.