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Dreamforce Ready Too?

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

#DF15 Ready

Dreamforce Ready?

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:

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?

#DF15 Ready

My DF14 Sessions

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.

Building Culture: It’s Bigger than Salesforce

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

Building a Successful Social Strategy with #5W1H

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
Century Theaters
Theater 4

Building Culture: It’s Bigger than Salesforce

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

CNX14 Week in Review

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

Education

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.

Networking

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.

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Entertainment

CNX14 had a great lineup starting with local band Dude!will.i.amThe 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.

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All in all it was a week we’ll spent. I am looking forward to Connections ’15 in New York!

Countdown to Dreamforce

MVP Dreamforce Discount D13MVPREFThere are only 139 days until Dreamforce (4 months, 16 days), but who’s counting? You can save up to $700 combining the current rate and this discount code: D13MVPREF when you register by July 18th. There are so many reasons to go to Dreamforce. I’ve been once and it was amazing! I learned so much and can’t wait to go back and continue to feed my need for knowledge. Whatever your motivation to attend, I’d love to save you a little bit of money.

Top 2 Reasons to be excited about Dreamforce: Dream Team in the Cloud

Dream Team…Assemble in the Cloud!

It’s finally come and gone! After months and weeks of buildup, including my own running buildup to the event, Dreamforce was wonderous week! This is an exciting time! I got to hang with almost twenty of my colleagues as a team. No small feat considering we’re coming from all over North America, spanning multiple time zones. We came together to learn, share and socialize with over 70,000 85,000 people who have similar ambitions…to get better. This is the biggest cloud computing event in the industry. At no other time in the previous or coming 365 days will we have best of the best in the same room like this. This was an opportunity to engage with like-minded people to share our challenges and successes with one another, to learn from each other. The reason I have combined my top two reasons together is because they are unmistakably linked together. We all live and breathe in the cloud and wouldn’t be the team we are without it. I am lucky because of the advances in technology allow me to access not only data, but people from around the globe. Thanks to the cloud, I can telecommute to work, build and maintain relationships with my team as well as serve my clients from any place that has power and an internet connection. Communication is crucial to team success and cloud computing makes this all possible. It’s great to be able to connect through technology, but nothing can replace the benefits of sharing an experience together. My first Dreamforce was even more amazing with my team than it would have been without them. As great as it is to connect over great distances, you can’t replace a handshake with an email. I have met a handful of my team in person and it will be great to reconnect with familiar faces and equally exciting to meet the others in person for the first time. I love the fact that I got to spend this week with the best in the business, including my team!

The power of the cloud is not to be understated, especially when you consider that over 750 education sessions are dedicated to enhancing my cloud prowess, including multiple #HOT (hands-on training) sessions. Add in the sneak peeks of next generation apps and you have yourself one amazing looking week! It went by in a flash. Probably because I was so busy stuffing as much as I could into my agenda. I loved every minute of my first adventure at the almost flawless event. I learned a ton. I met a lot of cool people (some new, some only previously familiar thanks to Twitter). The Red Hot Chili Peppers lit up city hall and I got a quick treat at my favorite West Coast burger joint In-N-Out! To sum it up, my first Dreamforce was AMAZING and I cannot wait for the next one! I’m crossing off the days on my calendar until #DF13. In the meantime I will apply everything I learned at #DF12 to better myself. If I’m fortunate enough, next year I would love to help others make the most of their Dreamforce experience.

Reasons 3 & 4 to be excited about Dreamforce: Radian6 & being Social

Sharing is Caring

It’s almost time to kickoff Dreamforce. In my last post, I talked about how much I am looking forward to spending a week in San Francisco. So much of that excitement focused on all things social, which has permeated almost every area of our lives. Personally and professionally, social is just normal part of my everyday life. Earlier this  year Brian Solis shared an intriguing post on the impact social has had ‘business as usual’.

No matter what it’s called in the future, social enterprise is here to stay. It’s the journey, not the destination. So much has changed in the last year since Salesforce coined the phrase as we know it today. As the start of Dreamforce approaches, the more I hear about the Marketing Cloud, which now includes Radian6 and Buddy Media, I can’t wait to hear what’s next as this cloud continues to evolve. I want to hear more success stories like Burberry and HP and the exciting things they are doing to improve the way they do business. I need to hear about other organizations like NBC who leverage tools like Chatter to encourage cool-laboration and improve its business practices.

Sharing is caring, but that is not limited to sharing content. It’s also about sharing your ear. Being social is two-way street that must have balance between listening and speaking. Otherwise, it isn’t a conversation. I am fortunate to have access to best of breed tools like Radian6’s engagement platform that allows me the ability to first and foremost, listen. There are a great many things I can do with this tool including listening, measuring and engaging. However, keep in mind that the tool itself is not the silver bullet. In order for tools like Radian6 to be effective, you must plan accordingly. For additional resources on starting or refining your social strategy, check out these resources:

My strategy at Dreamforce is to listen and learn as much as I can. There over 300 social-focused sessions. That’s over 25% of the available sessions! Clearly, social has rapidly infiltrated so much of what we do, it’s just expected. Which is to say, it’s just how we do business now. If you still have room in your agenda, check out this top 10 list of social media for marketing session at #DF12.

No matter where you are in your journey, you will find it much easier to engage if you have something to add to the conversation. I know that I need to plan and listen before engaging. There’s an old saying, “think before you speak”. With that in mind, I have adopted “listen before you engage”. The days of pure broadcast marketing à la the popular TV show “Mad Men” are gone. Today, it is vital that businesses hear what people are saying to or about them and engage each person as an individual. Of course, it will help if you understand something about them before “solving the problem” you think they have. That’s where listening first, understanding second, and speaking third will come in handy. If they feel valued, then they will reciprocate.

At the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat. Businesses are operated by people and people make decisions based on the information they have at the time. In the last decade, information has become widely available faster than ever before. The best relationships are have one common trait…communication. When the conversation is valued on both sides, it tends to last longer, as does the relationship.

Just a few hours to go. I’m ready to engage! Are you?