I’ll never forget my first Dreamforce.
Schedules spread out across multiple buildings. An event map spanning different neighborhoods of downtown San Francisco. Restaurant lines wrapping around the block.
Thankfully, I’ve picked up a few tips since then to enjoy this amazing conference even better.
It’s always important to stay energized and hydrated, even more so during the busy schedule of Dreamforce. My wife sent two cases of Cliff bars with me that first year and they were all gone by the 2nd day. I recommend an ample supply of packaged food to stock your laptop bag each day for snacking, or just in case you have to skip a meal altogether. Clip a Nalgene bottle or similar onto your bag and you’re all set!
You’ll be doing a lot of walking through the uneven and under construction streets of downtown San Francisco. Do your feet a favor and wear the most comfortable shoes possible.
There simply isn’t enough hotel capacity in downtown San Francisco for 170,000+ people to all have their own room. If bunking up with a colleague, learn a little about their traveling style beforehand. Does anyone snore? Better grab earplugs. Is a 5am pacific / 8am eastern phone call scheduled? Let your roomie know in advance.
More than just a list of sessions and times – map out each day completely. Think about where each session is and look for opportunities to schedule meetings with colleagues and vendors before or after a session in the hotel restaurant or lobby. I’ve even hosted meetings in a cab ride between buildings and to/from the airport.
Arrive a day before the sessions start to grab your badge when the lines are shorter.
Most of the sessions allow for Q&A. Leverage this opportunity to personalize the discussion. If you’ve got a question…chances are others do too. Most speakers actually prefer the interaction.
After each session, I like to find the individuals who asked a question of interest and propose a continued one-on-one dialogue after the conference. I’ve learned a lot from those follow-on discussions.
I also go up and thank each speaker before asking for their contact information. There’s often more to the story than time allowed, so it’s great to continue the conversation later.
These are easy to skip after a long day. Look past that and always attend the concert! The bands are fantastic and it’s all for a great cause – the UCSF Children’s Hospitals.
Arrange for group transportation to the event if possible. My team co-sponsored a trolley ride to U2 last year. It was a great opportunity for colleagues, prospects, and clients to enjoy some personal time together while seeing the city from a unique perspective.
The city is beautiful almost any time of the year, but there’s a special buzz during Dreamforce. Enjoy lunch outside at Union Square. Take a quick ferry to see the skyline. Grab a selfie in front of the new Salesforce tower. Savor the “Out of Office” experience!
If there’s wind in San Francisco on your day of return, the SFO airport can endure delays. Know your alternate flight options and try to remain flexible, including looking at San Jose and even Sacramento departures.
Being delayed can sometimes be a blessing in disguise since many of the Salesforce people stick around an extra day and might be able to meet with you while you’re stuck in San Francisco.
I’ve met some fantastic people at Dreamforce. Salesforce employees, prospects, new client contacts, partners, and more! I take a picture of each business card and/or screenshot a new LinkedIn connection as an easy reminder to do a personal follow-up once we’re both back in the office.
What Did I Miss?
I look forward to hearing your tips in the comments below. Meanwhile, enjoy Dreamforce!