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
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!
Where do I begin? Before I get to the exciting news announced yesterday, let’s rewind about a month when someone I have a ton of respect for first approached me about becoming an MVP. I was immediately humbled that one of my peers wanted to nominate me. Especially, since this individual was an MVP already. That alone was an honor.
What is an MVP you ask? For my friends and family who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s acknowledgment from my peers in my professional community who are Salesforce.com users and advocates that I am someone who is active and supportive of members in the community. Here’s the official (and more detailed) Salesforce MVP definition.
Fast forward to April 10, 2013 when I woke up a little early to get my day started off on the right foot. Literally, I went for a run to kickstart my day. I tend to feel more energetic throughout the day which helps me avoid “hitting the wall” later on. Perhaps, those two cups of coffee might have added an unnecessary boost, but none of these things compare to the rush of energy I got when I received an email at 10:20am EST. This is when an email with the subject “Welcome to the Salesforce MVP Program!” flashed on my screen.
Holy expletive, Batman! is the first thought I had. My excitement could not, would not be contained. Immediately, I dialed the person who first nominated me. A couple of quick calls later, I was still stuck on the first paragraph, “Congratulations!” Words can’t explain how excited I am to be included in the latest crop of MVP’s. This program wouldn’t exist without the community, to whom I am grateful for the opportunity interact with, share with and learn from. Doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or grizzled veteran in the Salesforce ecosystem, do not underestimate the power of the community!
Get involved like I did and now I’m an MVP because of it. I started a new Force.com Developer Group in my area to compliment the general user group. I’m happy to say that our first formal event will be hosting a joint Hackathon on April 27th during the upcoming (global) Mobile Developer Week with the larger user groups from Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte. Get on the Answers boards to help and learn from each other. There’s always something to discuss on Twitter where I get much of news from, especially the latest and greatest from this community. These are just a few examples of how I got involved and it’s these type of activities that contributed to being named an MVP. Sharing is Caring! For my own part, I will put my best foot forward (the same way I started my early morning run) to make the community as proud as I feel right now. Absolutely humbled, but proud nonetheless! It’s still sinking in as I write these words. It is my privilege to say thank you, I won’t let you down!!