10 Tips for Surviving Dreamforce
Lucky No. 10.
This year’s Dreamforce is my 10th. It’s my 10th time trying to find parking, hustling through the foot traffic, having my badge scanned, and making my way down the long escalators to Moscone North. (Side note: Dreamforce 2005 was in Moscone West only).
But more importantly, it’s the 10th Dreamforce where I have listened, watched, learned and been inspired.
Dreamforce is an incredible time when the majority of us are on a mission to change the world with technology — and excite customers and partners alike.
Wow, how times have changed. Its incredible how far it has come. Does anyone else remember companies like Firepond, Esker On-Demand, Zimbra, iCentera, LinkPoint360, BlueRoads, Invisible CRM, Xcelcius, CubeTree, Salesforce for Google Apps or Vettro?
Some of these still exist, but they are all way different companies and solutions now.
10 years since my very first Dreamforce, and while much has changed, some things remain the same.
So how does one get ready for Dreamforce year after year? I have a few tips that can help you gear up for Dreamforce 2016 (as you may be reading this too late).
Here’s my Dreamforce Survival Guide:
1. Comfortable shoes
I remember Dreamforce 2008 when I was with Ribbit and had to work a booth for three days. After the first day, I actually had bruises on my heels. You need sole cushions.
2. Purell hand sanitizer
I don’t care if you know one person or 1,000. You are going to shake a ton of hands. You are going to grab door handles. You are going to use the registration laptops. Getting sick right after Dreamforce used to be a right of passage. Dreamforce 2009 was held in November and the flu and colds were rampant. Forgive me, but I typically sterilize right after we shake.
Yes, I know most attendees get a staple Dreamforce bag upon registration and oh how I wish I would too. In 10 years, I have either been an employee at Salesforce or a booth-only sponsor, so no such luck for me. Bags are for attendees only. (Don’t feel bad. I still got the bag, I just didn’t get them upon arrival. I typically just begged the event staff on the last day of the conference with the assurance that no one was looking).
So, my advice is to bring a backpack to carry your laptop, iPad, water bottles, etc., with you.
4. Business cards
This is obvious, but nonetheless bring lots and lots of cards. I don’t want to stick around and get my badge scanned every 5 seconds. Hand a card off to the booth staff and be on your way.
5. External battery
Back in 2010 when we all spent more time getting work done on our iPhones (after throwing away our Blackberries), the battery necessities were evident. External batteries were critical if you wanted to make it through a day and then take photos at the Dreamforce Gala.
6. Mints or gum
I try to be as mindful as possible when talking to someone and I like to make sure I’m minty and fresh. I always want to have a mint handy for those Expo Hall 1:1s. If you forgot them, walk the expo floor. There’s a 92% chance some sponsor is giving them away.
7. RSVP “yes” to everything
If you are a customer or prospect, a Salesforce AE has probably already invited you to all the great parties. If you are a Salesforce employee, you have probably been invited to every vendor party. If you are somewhere in between, just follow the crowd. We all want to be in multiple places at the same time and perhaps there will be a day when Salesforce launches the “Virtual World Cloud,” but until then, it’s one place at a time. That being said, you never know where you are going to be, so chances are, if you RSVP “yes”, the next party is just a block away and you are going to get in.
8. Warm coat
This is a tough one because it typically depends on when or where the Dreamforce Gala is being held, but for the most part, you can’t go wrong when you at least bring a coat with you. (If you are local, leave it in your car. If you are an out-of-towner, leave it in the hotel and just wait. You never know. In 2005, Salesforce hosted an outdoor reception without heat lamps thinking it was going to be a beautiful evening. An hour in, staff was hanging out fleece blankets because it was so cold. In 2012, I found myself at City Hall watching the Red Hot Chili Peppers in what felt like 45-degree chills.
Counter that with 2009 (Black Crowes), 2010 (Stevie Wonder) or 2011 (Metallica) when we ROCKED indoors. Side note: Black Crowes was my all-time favorite act. This photo made the Salesforce.com Login Page for a short time before Dreamforce 2010. Epic!
9. Go with a purpose
It’s really easy to get distracted at Dreamforce. You need to know what you want out of Dreamforce. Research the sessions ahead of time. Get into the Dreamforce App and spend the time to lock in your sessions. When you get to the expo hall, figure out where you want to go and whom you want to see before meandering throughout the floor. You can find yourself out of time before the next session if you are just wandering around because there is just so much to see.
Don’t get me wrong, I love walking the floor, hoping I stumble upon a really cool product I didn’t know about or running into reality stars like Roh Habibi from Million Dollar Listings, San Francisco. Just don’t miss out on something you wanted because of distractions.
Dreamforce is fun. It doesn’t matter what role you are in. It doesn’t really matter what industry you are in. There is something for everyone. Take it in. You are part of something huge.
Save your badge. You may write a blog post about it some day.
Enterprise Account Executive
We’d love to hear your Dreamforce memories and tips. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #DF15Top10.