Friday, September 24, 2010
The Insider’s Guide to Dreamforce, Part 3
If you read parts one and two of my postings about Dreamforce, you are probably convinced that going is a good idea and you probably have an idea how to get there and where to stay. Now for the tough, but fun part—how to survive and thrive at the conference. Grab your compass and follow me.
First things first. Get a flu shot. Pretty mundane, but you are going to be slogging around in a soup of 20,000 strangers for the better part of a week, right in middle of flu season. Just get the shot. You wouldn’t run your servers with no protection, would you?
On a related note, hand cleaner is your friend. They typically have zillions of bottles of the stuff all over the place and I suggest you make liberal use of it. If you’re really paranoid, bring you own, small bottle.
When you first arrive, particularly if Dreamforce is in full swing already, prepare to be overwhelmed. The sensation is similar to biting down on a hot pepper, while sticking your head out the car window on the highway. Your first stop will be with one of the smiling, Salesforce employees staffing the registration booths. Here, you will get your badge and welcome packet. Carefully check it to make sure it’s correct and clearly printed. Verify that the color scheme matches your status (Customer, Vendor, etc.). Wear your badge at all times! That’s your passport to everything and you can expect to be stopped by security if you don’t have it on.
When you first visit the vendor area, I suggest taking a walk around the edges and then down each aisle, paper and pencil in hand. Make a note of places to visit, spending not much time at each, right now. Make note of where to get various things stamped to win prizes—swag is good!
The next time you hit the vendors, zero in on the ones that piqued your interest and demo, ask questions, and learn every single thing you can. You may never have the chance to see this much knowledge in one place again. Hand out your business cards like they’re candy at Halloween. By the way, bring at least twice as many cards as you think you’ll possibly need. You’ll need them.
When it comes time for the sessions, get out your list and go over it. Does it still appeal to you? If not, just go anywhere. No matter what Salesforce implies, if there are empty chairs, your butt is welcome to fill them. Note: The same does not apply to certification tests, classes you pay for, and the like. Schedule them ahead and notify them if you can’t make it, as there is often a waiting list.
Attend the keynotes. Some are boring. Most are too long. Many of them are amazing. All of them have valuable information and they’re part of the package of the experience.
Go to the social events. Hook up with your sales people and their events. Eat at birds of a feather lunches. Socialize and hand out business cards. When you drag your tired self back to your hotel room, take 30 minutes to tap out emails to the people you met that day and follow up with the most interesting ones in two weeks. Try to add them to your LinkedIn network. Dreamforce is the single, best way to network in our industry.
In previous postings, I promised to tell you the restroom score, so here it is. It isn’t pretty. Maybe this year will be different, but previously, the facilities have been somewhat overwhelmed. The key to avoiding lines is to pretend the toilets are servers and you are a load balancer. Everyone heads straight for the ones at the bottom of escalator in the main hall. Instead, go the far ends of the center, past the vendor areas or all the way past the keynote room—there you will find relatively empty and clean comfort stations. Silly? Maybe now, but come Dreamforce, your bladder will be glad you paid attention to this!
One final note. Be nice and smile! People are going to be tired, in a rush, and sometimes grumpy. Don’t you be that way. Just bring up compassion, smile, and be kind to everyone.
Have fun and look me up at Dreamforce!
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