Dreamforce 2017: The definitive survival guide
Dreamforce is the world’s largest – and coolest – software conference. Here’s our 17 essential survival tips for attendees.
170,000 attendees; over 15 million people joining online; and more than 3,200 sessions. It can only be one thing – the world’s largest software conference: Dreamforce.
Dreamforce is, in host Salesforce’s words, four high-energy days of learning, innovation, fun and giving back. Attendees will learn from industry visionaries, product experts and world-renowned speakers who can help transform businesses and careers.
Its busy, buzzing and – best of all – fun. But it’s also hectic and there’s a lot of people to hear from and meet.
Here’s our 17 essential tips for getting the most from Dreamforce.
1. Be a Dreamforce geek – revise beforehand
With the slickness we’ve come to expect from Salesforce, there’s a handful of short online learning modules on their Trailhead website for Dreamforce attendees. Learn more about the event, develop your agenda game plan, or get to know the campus in learning sessions that will take between 5-20 mins each.
2. Prep with a Dreamforce jet-pack
Be a Dreamforce pro by downloading Salesforce’s ‘Jet pack’ with everything you need to know beforehand. With podcasts, maps, e-books and agendas, you can print it all off to read on the plane and land ready to go. It will also be a great conversation starter if you find yourself next to a fellow attendee on the plane (it’s never too early to network!)
If you’re less of a planner, then as a minimum it’s probably worth printing off Salesforce’s map of Dreamforce beforehand.
3. Avoid Monday morning queuing
Attendees can register for passes Sunday or Monday. If you do it early on Sunday, then you’ll miss the crowds and be able to suss out the campus before the event kicks off the next day. Check out the times and locations you can register on Dreamforce’s FAQ’s under the ‘At the event’ section.
4. Get ‘appy and plan your Dreamforce agenda beforehand
Use the Dreamforce app to line up your own personal agenda – and be ruthless with what and who you want to see. With sessions spread throughout San Francisco, you’ll need to allow yourself time for travelling. Don’t forget to get to keynote sessions early if you want to get inside within good time, as for many of them, you will have to go through security first.
Our favorite advice on planning an agenda comes from Salesforce’s Director of Admin Evangelism, Mike Gerholdt. He recommends splitting up sessions between co-workers for maximum exposure, and listing your knowledge gaps beforehand so you can prioritize sessions you’ll benefit from most.
5. Say hi to Sage People at Dreamforce
We’ll be at Dreamforce on booth 1500 at the Customer Success expo – why not say hi? We’ll be there talking about how fast-growth companies who value their people are changing the way they engage their workforce.
Our very own Paul Burrin, VP Sage People, will also be speaking about how you can apply to the art of science to marketing to make sure you’re getting return on investment Wednesday 1pm PST at the Park Central Hotel, Stanford, as part of Dreamforce. Our VP of Alliances, Randi Diprima, will also be delivering a session on partnering within the Salesforce ecosystem on Tuesday at 3pm. If you’re interested, do pop in and say hi to both of them there.
6. Travelling between locations? Track shuttle busses
Dreamforce is putting on free shuttles between hotels and campus. You can download the full schedule online, or use the app to track them – just go to ‘shuttle maps’ under ‘more’ to see your shuttle’s location.
7. Network, network, network
Do it on the plane, when you’re queueing to get into sessions, travelling between locations, eating lunch, and checking in to your hotel. Dreamforce is a great opportunity to connect with business leaders from across the globe flying into the city. You never know what might come from it – just make sure you get the tone and timing right, and know when not to, too.
8. Come prepared with business cards
You’ll be surprised at the amount of people who don’t always bring business cards to events, or run out. With 170,000 other attendees, make sure you bring enough and always have them on you. (Although maybe not quite enough to give to all 170,000 other attendees…)
9. Save space for all the Dreamforce swag
You’ll be carrying around your bag all day – so only bring the essentials. You’ll want to make sure you save space for swag – of which there’ll be a lot at Dreamforce. Spare branded memory stick, anyone?
The one thing we’d recommend bringing that you might not have thought of? An umbrella. Trust us on this one.
10. Leave the laptop at the hotel
Although it’s tempting to be able to login throughout the day, carrying a laptop for over 12 hours as you travel across the city will be more hassle than its worth. You’ll also have to take it through security at some sessions – and alongside the fact the wifi can be patchy with thousands of users trying to access it at the same time, we say stick with a tablet or phone.
11. Bring battery back up
Saying that, you’ll almost definitely need a spare battery or be able to top up your phone juice on the go with a portable charger. If you’ve got one, bring it along to ensure you don’t get 10%-battery-panic. If you’ll be using lots of data at the event then it might also be worth ensuring you can access your own wifi too – either hot-spotting your phone, or bringing a dongle.
12. Ensure your own body battery doesn’t dip below 10%
In the words of Arianna Huffington, we all know what percentage our phone battery is at – but do we know how much charge we have left in ourselves? With four days of early starts and late nights, we’d echo advice from Salesforce – drink lots of water, make sure you get enough sleep, and try and eat healthily for maximum energy.
A stash of healthy snacks such as nuts will keep you topped up over the few days – and is a great conversation starter for people you may be queuing next to as well.
13. Plan ahead if you’re a foodie fan
Lunch is served at Dreamforce from 11, so if you want a few moments to enjoy it before it gets busy then we’d recommend sneaking out of your 10 o’clock session early to get there first. It might also avoid any awkward networking opportunities with a mouthful of food.
Most restaurants also get booked up ahead of Dreamforce, so if you want to eat out in the evenings – either book as far in advance as possible, or you might be better off getting something you can grab and go with.
14. Don’t miss out on the parties
15. Dress comfy
You’ve probably heard it a million times, but we’re going to say it again – you’ll do lots of walking so wear shoes you can get around in, and dress comfy. The official dress code is business casual, and Salesforce recommend layering in their handy blog on what to wear.
16. Build your profile online too
If you’re looking to connect with others at Dreamforce, start conversations or raise your profile, then make the most of online opportunities too. Tweet along using the hashtag #DF17, join any of the business area Dreamforce chatter groups, or even one of the many other options for Dreamforce attendees – from running lovers to photographers, there’s something for everyone.
17. Step outside your comfort zone
There are going to be tens, if not hundreds of sessions you’ll want to visit at Dreamforce, but one of our biggest pieces of advice is to not be afraid to step outside your sector. Whether you’re in development, sales, marketing or HR/people, there are some cracking sessions on the world of work that will really get you thinking.
It’s something we’re passionate about at Sage People – and something that will impact the entire workforce, not just the c-suite and your HR/people team. The world of work as we know it is changing, and companies (whatever area they work in) need to get ahead.
There’s a list of events related to this in the Dreamforce agenda builder – why not check one out? You can also read more about how fast-growth companies (or People Companies as we call them), like Salesforce, are getting ahead.