I was fortunate to join the Episode 53 of the WizardCast to talk Marketing Cloud. You can subscribe to the WizardCast through these sources. Click the link below for access to the original post and podcast where I talk Marketing Cloud with Brian and Mark.
Just over a month from now, the 2017 edition of Dreamforce kicks off. This will be my sixth time, all in a row. Over the years I have learned a few things to maximize my experience, which I have summarized below in 15 tips to help you improve yours.
- Make a packing list. Preferably well in advance of the night before or the morning of!
- Keep an eye on Agenda Builder. Favorite sessions you want to track
- Don’t overbook…anything. This is a marathon, not a sprint
- Plan your travel logistics. Budget extra time getting to/from airports, parking, public transportation, anything where your plans are affected by others
- If you want to connect with someone face-to-face, book ahead. Time flies at Dreamforce!
- Make sure you have all your travel documents in order and secure throughout
- Consider utilizing various travel programs that allow you to bypass lines or at least gets you access to expedited services. Especially, at congested airports!
- Remember your session agenda? Be prepared to modify and adapt as your week unfolds. You will meet new people, hear about something new (to you) that will force you to adjust your schedule. This is okay. Flexibility is your friend.
- Repeating the obvious, meet new people, learn something new, share with others
- Try local restaurants. There are many great coffee shops that aren’t green and likely less crowded. If you know someone local, ask them
- Pace yourself throughout the week. Make sure you drink enough water, don’t skip (too many) meals, don’t try to hit every party (there are too many to cover)
- Many people will go home exhausted. Many also go home with “Dreamflu” after running around for close to a week with 200,000 people. Whatever you do stay healthy and keep the germs at bay, do it (avoiding people doesn’t count)!
After it’s all Over
- Follow-up with new contacts within a week or at the most two max. Whether you reach out via email or a social platform, it is helpful to include a personal message with some context of how you met and/or why you’re contacting them to improve the odds of the person remembering you and why they should respond
- Practice what you learned, preferably in a sandbox or developer org. Your production org will be happier and still fully functional if you do!
- Take it easy over the weekend. Jet lag + Dream lag = tired bodies and minds. Recharge once you come down from the excitement you left behind
Other Dreamforce Resources
- Official Get Ready tips for Dreamforce by Salesforce
- 5 Things to Know About Planning Dreamforce by Salesforce
- 30 Really Good Pieces of Advice for Dreamforce First-Timers by Salesforce
- Dreamforce ’17 Ready on Trailhead by Salesforce
- 2017 Dreamforce Party Map by Clearslide
- Dreamforce 2017 Party List by Apttus
- Ultimate Dreamforce Parties 2017
How I learned how to Salesforce before Trailhead existed.
It was the year 2 BT (Before Trailhead), circa fall 2012 when my journey toward the Developer-side began. I was branching over to the “core” from a marketing focused role and looking for a starting point that suited my preference to learn by doing when I got some great advice from multiple members in the community, “use the Force.com Fundamentals book if you want to learn how to use the Platform.” Learn by doing for the win!
My first reaction was, ‘I’m not a coder.’ However, I was reassured that with Salesforce, you don’t have to code to build something on the Platform. Quick public service announcement: There are times when code is necessary. Those who know what they’re doing with code are invaluable so please, NEVER take them for granted. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s continue…
I had already tried and failed to “learn Salesforce” and pass the admin certification just by studying without practical application of the content. I even tried to cram with a course, but there wasn’t much if any hands-on work in that particular class. I found my groove when I switched my focus to the Developer track and picked up an actual book made of paper and ink at a local event. If you attend Dreamforce or another event, you can still find one to take home, order a hard copy online or simply use the online version (you can also download the PDF from here). For safe measure, I followed that up with a spin through the Force.com Workbook (now retired) which was another good resource that is best consumed by following along in your Developer Edition org.
While these sources might not be as entertaining as learning on Trailhead, it was extremely interesting because of their tell, show and do methodology. If you need humor and bite-size chunks of material, then start with Trailhead. It’s a lot of fun and you might forget you’re learning something new! They hold contests multiple times a year for prizes (I won a once after I completed the Battle Station Trail) and miraculously made getting the key information out Release Notes bearable with their Release Notes Trails.
The key for me is the hands-on experience. The Developer Community helped me obtain my first Salesforce certification and fed my appetite to continue learning. As of this writing, I have 7 Salesforce certifications. I would not be where I am now if I was not introduced to the Developer track. Like the rest of this community, I love creating things. It’s why LEGO is so much fun and a great excuse to have kids.
Make it Personal
One of my favorite accomplishments on the platform, Babyforce 2.0 was inspired by the birth of my youngest child and my friend, everyone’s favorite wizard, Brian Kwong who created 1.0 (Pre-Salesforce1). I created an app for the “fun” purpose of tracking diapers, wipes and a silly excuse to build it mobile first. I created a fully functional and mobile app without a single line of code and even ran a pilot with my wife who graciously tolerated my antics for a month while I tracked diaper changes. She even let me install Salesforce1 on her phone and used it for a few days. My advice, build something for yourself. The content will be more interesting and at the end, you could have a pretty awesome app to call your own.
Meet and Greet the Community
What I love most about this community is the accessibility of information and opportunities for hands-on learning. Whether you do it all online or balance it with attending live events like your local Developer Group, people are willing to point you in the right direction as long as you’re willing to roll your sleeves up and take action. Hands-on applications are a common component of Developer Groups. In North Carolina, where I co-lead a group, we coordinate with other groups in our region for a “supergroup” meetup on an annual basis where we get together for a whole day of learning, networking, and fun.
The Bottom Line
If you want to learn Salesforce, there’s no better place to start than the Developer Community. You don’t have to be a coder to start. If you want to code, great, you can learn. If you don’t, that’s fine too. Either way, you must “do or do not, there is no try” — Yoda. Developing on Salesforce can only be learned by doing so might as well have fun doing it. Jump on Trailhead. Join your local group (my bias strongly recommends this last one). Connect with other Developers, both aspiring and seasoned veterans. You’ll have plenty of time to bury yourself developing on your own, but you’ll have more fun and support when you stumble upon a tricky trigger or bug. There’s even an e-book from the Salesforce Developer team help you get started. What are you waiting for?
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
Speakers: Denise Carbone, Lynn Simons and Chris Zullo
Join us to gain a solid understanding of the differences between Roles and Profiles. You’ll learn what these mean to the platform and get tips on how to manage these in your org. This session is geared more towards beginner admins.
Time & Location
Wednesday, 10:30 AM – 11:10 AM
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Continental Parlor 1-3
Friday, 8:30 AM – 9:10 AM
San Francisco Marriott Marquis Hotel
Yerba Buena Salon 10-12
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?
At the time of this post, Dreamforce is only 9 days away! If you haven’t filled in your agenda already, you should stop reading and immediately go and do that. Do not delay, do not pass Go, etc. However, if you’re still with me and you have some slots to fill in your DF14 schedule, then take a look at the followings sessions I am participating in when Dreamforce rolls around. This is my third Dreamforce in as many as years and coincidentally I have 3 sessions. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I hit the easy button and copied the session details below with links if your interested.
Speakers: Kyla Longe, Christopher Fuller, Mark Kovacevich, Pauline Mulvey and Chris Zullo
Join us to learn how to use Work.com and Chatter to improve and manage the culture of your organization. It’s not all about flipping a switch and watching the magic happen by itself. In order to make the undesirable desirable, harness peer pressure positively, design rewards, and demand accountability, you must have a plan if you hope to change the culture in your Salesforce environment. We’ll describe practical use-cases, even in regulated industries, that will help you drive change and engage your employees and colleagues. Discover how to get more traction in your Salesforce instance while shifting the culture.
Time & Location
Monday, 1:30 PM – 2:10 PM
Hilton San Francisco Union Square
Golden Gate 6,7,8
Speakers: Nicholas Zinser and Chris Zullo
You’re an admin and you are expected to be all things to all people…right? Don’t just “do” social, “be” social. Join us as we leverage the familiar concept of Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How…aka #5W1H, to help your organization be more social and measure it. Walk away with the framework and tips for each section that can be customized to your organization’s needs to be social and add value to the bottom line.
Time & Location
Tuesday, 9:00 AM – 9:40 AM
Speakers: Kyla Longe, Pauline Mulvey and Chris Zullo
Use Work.com and Chatter to improve and manage the culture of your organization. It’s not all about flipping a switch and watching the magic happen by itself. In order to make the undesirable desirable, harness peer pressure positively, design rewards and demand accountability you must have a plan if you hope to change the culture in your Salesforce environment. We’ll describe practical use-cases, even in regulated industries that will help you drive change, and engage your employees and colleagues. Join us and discover how to get more traction in your Salesforce instance while shifting the culture.
Time & Location
Thursday, 10:00 AM – 10:30 AM
Moscone Center West
Admin Theater Zone