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.
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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?
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
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.