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!
I cannot take credit for the original idea, that honor goes to Brian Kwong, aka The Wizard. His version was born in a browser before Salesforce1 (S1) and Publisher Actions (did I get it right Shannon?) were introduced. So when my youngest was born, I built Babyforce 2.0 as way to pass the time during those late nights and amuse myself by building an app my wife could easily use to track diaper changes and baby wipes. Easy, right?
Actually, yes it is. That’s the beauty of S1, anyone can build an app, no code required! In my case I had several objectives:
- Had to be short and sweet – no way I’m getting Wifey to use this if it’s hard
- Had to include only the essentials – no need to get fancy
- Had to be measurable – how else would I justify my experiment?
After few minutes, Babyforce was mobile! Over the first month, my lovely wife amused me by participating in my little experiment. We collectively tracked 357 “transactions” and broke them down few different ways. I give you the BabyDash!
It was a fun way to brush up on the functionality of Salesforce1 and did not take long to create. Safe Harbor, Brian is working on Toddlerforce 1.0. Stay tuned!
If you use Salesforce and haven’t joined the Salesforce Success Community or been to a user group before, you should. In a nutshell, it’s a support network for the community, by the community. The community is more than just a simple forum with questions and answers. It’s absolutely a fantastic resource for your Salesforce education, but it goes way beyond that.
This community cares and genuinely looks after each other. Don’t believe me? Read Cheryl Feldman’s first user group experience. Listen to Sarah Deutsch on the power of Community podcast on the ButtonClick Admin™. Or check out the magical journey of our resident Wizard, Brian Kwong who will point you to yet more inspiration.
I also owe my thanks to many many people in the community. That’s a key word – community. The majority of my self-education came from the community. – Brian Kwong, aka Salesforce Wizard
No matter your role, level or location, if you work with Salesforce the community is available. The Success Community is the epicenter in the cloud. This is where you will find Answers your questions, a platform for your Ideas or a place for Collaboration. It’s also the home for most User Groups (for Developer Groups head here).
This week I had the pleasure taking road trip to Wilmington, NC to present at the local user group with my friend and fellow community member Phillip Southern, author of the blog philthecloud.com. We had a great conversation with those in attendance about the Salesforce Community at large and the MVP Program which is an subset of the community. We were invited to speak to the community about the community…AWESOME! We had a great group who were interactive and eager learn more about the benefits of participating in the community.
As we wrapped our session, an unexpected and thoughtful question was asked by the crowd, had we as presenters saw value in the conversation even though it was a requirement of the program? The answer to the first part of the question is we definitely enjoyed our time and easily saw the value. Any chance we have to encourage others to participate in the community is welcome. The fact that we had more of a conversation than a straight up push presentation where we did all the talking was all I needed to know the topic resonated. As for the second part of the question, it is actually not a requirement of the program. It’s an honor to collaborate with others in the community at events like this. For those who are remote employees like Phil and myself, it’s an opportunity to meet new people, learn and share. We do it because we love the community, both online and in person.
The following is a excerpt taken from the online community. It sums up the best of the community:
At a minimum, the community is a resource you can learn from, free of charge. At it’s best, the community is will improve your life as much personally as it does professionally.
Ready to join the fun? Go to https://success.salesforce.com/ to learn more and start your own road trip!
It’s here, it’s here, it’s finally here! No, not Salesforce Spring ’14 maintenance exam, that’s available on the 20th. I’m talking about my own update in the form of a new baby boy. It’s an exciting time in the Zullo family and while I was watching my oldest interact with my youngest, I was reminded that you get back what you put in…to anything. My marriage, family, friends, career, pretty much everything I do is dependent on my input. You get back you put in. I was reminded of this over the weekend when my oldest met my newest child. Like most parents, I think my kid is pretty sharp and more importantly a good person in the making. I’ve known for a while that my firstborn is a compassionate soul, but was still floored by his love and affection for his younger sibling, by the pride, joy and determination in caring for his new brother. I’d like to think our family has had something to do with that and it’s not a coincidence.
The Salesforce Success Community is no different. I don’t believe is a coincidence is my professional happiness has improved significantly since I increased my activity in Salesforce and the community it fosters. In the past 2 years alone I’ve met some amazing people, strengthened and stretched myself and I am as happy as I have been in my career in some time. No way this is all luck. Do I feel lucky to have an amazing family and network? Of course! Do I actually believe it’s all luck that the pieces of my life puzzle have randomly fallen into place? No. You get what you put in. If you put crappy data into your system, guess what? Your data is crappy. If you don’t put genuine effort into your relationships, then you probably won’t have anybody to stand by you when things get tough. I love my life and those who are in it. After my family, my Salesforce family has been a huge part of my recent success and professional enjoyment. Where else am I going to find people who send me congratulations about my Spring ’14 release in Salesforce-speak?
Whatever you do in life, know that you get back, what you put it in.