Dreamforce Conference Tips: 5 Ways to Maximize Your Week

Like most CRM geeks, I’ve been counting down the days until Salesforce’s cloud computing event of the year. Salesforce has been hosting Dreamforce, their annual conference in San Francisco since 2003 and with each year the attendees, exhibitors and sessions multiple exponentially. With over 23,000 attendees at last year’s event, these five tips will help you navigate through the masses so you can get the most out of your week.

1. Go to the Keynote (and get there early):
This will be my third year at Dreamforce, and like the previous two years, I’m looking forward to see what Marc Benioff will unveil. If you were there last year, you probably remember being distracted by his boisterous socks, or him awkwardly delivering his keynote while trying to conceal an iPad in the back of his pants. Or perhaps you remember the hilarious moment on day two when he invited Bernard, the face of Microsoft’s “I Didn’t Get Forced” ads onto stage while we (the audience) begged him to come back as a Salesforce customer.

The keynote is a great way to integrate with the Salesforce community. You’ll see snippets of what’s in store for the next series of releases, learn about how Salesforce is giving back with its foundation, and you’ll be among thousands (yes, thousands) of partners, customers, users, and developers.

Just be sure to get to the keynote early. Last year it filled up quickly, so hundreds of people had to watch in an overflow room. And if you’d like to be caffeinated for the big event, grab your coffee before you get to Moscone to avoid the long lines.

2. Choose your Breakout Sessions Wisely (and now):
Sessions fill up quickly, so if you haven’t already registered for the Dreamforce Agenda Builder, take a few minutes now to do it now. You can easily navigate through the agenda builder by sorting with your learning track, date and session time. If you’re jonsing to get into a specific session and it’s already full, sign up for notifications in-case there’s an opening. Last year, they scanned badges at the doors to make sure users had preregistered. Most sessions were at capacity, so if you weren’t registered you weren’t able to get in.

As a certified administrator and marketing user, I’m thrilled to see the expansive list of sessions for marketing and sales alignment this year. In particular, I’m looking forward to hearing Jon Miller, Marketo’s VP of Marketing, discuss marketing automation tips for revenue-driving events. I’m also registered for a visual workflow session which I’m hoping to gain some insight on automating complex tasks between marketing and sales users.

I’d recommend filling up your entire calendar before the Dreamforce starts, and downloading the mobile app in case you want to check out other sessions or make any changes on the fly.

3. Check out the Cloud Expo:
If you’re already a Salesforce user, then you’re already familiar with the AppExchange – and the Cloud Expo will exhibit over 275 companies and partners. The energy on the expo floor is incredible, and you’ll be able to talk to leading app providers, build relationships with vendors, and talk to customers. Be sure to take advantage of product demos, hands-on training, and of course all of the unlimited swag.

The Cloud Expo is also an efficient way to compare competitors. For example, if you’re looking to integrate with a marketing automation solution, you’ll have access to talk to all of the top companies including Marketo, Eloqua, Pardot, Silverpop and more.

Just be prepared to have your badge scanned and you’ll be receiving an influx of emails after the event. But, that cloud shaped stress ball will be completely worth it!

4. Network:
Get those business cards printed – because this is also the networking event of the year. There will be a surplus of extracurricular events that you can attend between lunches, receptions, and vendor parties.

Step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to the people you’re sitting next to during sessions or on the beanbag chairs in the corridors. I like to ask people how they’re using Salesforce and what their favorite apps are. You’ll be surprised how users across all industries and verticals use Salesforce differently, and you’ll get some great ideas on things you can change or implement in your own org.

5. Create Your Own Roadmap:
After a week of sessions and cloud excitement; you’re going to leave Dreamforce with a pocket full of business cards and a brain stocked with ideas. Before you get back to the office and are inundated by your inbox, take time to create your goals with all your learnings from Dreamforce.

Last year, one of my favorite sessions was a demonstration on how Salesforce uses Salesforce to manage marketing campaigns. When I got back to the office after Dreamforce, we started small by creating campaign hierarchies with parents/child campaigns and chiseled away at our take aways within weeks. Over the past year, our revised structure has given us far more insight on measuring campaign effectiveness and ROI.

I suggest creating a simple spreadsheet of ideas and implementation deadlines before you leave. That way, once you’re all caught up at the office, you can start applying your new knowledge. Also, don’t forget to connect to all those brilliant people you met by email or on LinkedIn.


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