A Dreamforce Newbie Survival Kit

A survival kit for a Dreamforce Newbie

Dreamforce. It is very appropriately named.

Thousands of people dream about attending, and once they get there, they feel this inexplicable force that keeps drawing them back year after year. 2013 will be my third year attending Dreamforce, and if I have my way, it will continue to be an annual pilgrimage.

Here are a few tips that I think all first-time Dreamforce attendees should know:

1. Leave the laptop at home, or if you must bring it to San Francisco, leave it secured in the safe at your hotel room. You will quickly find that it becomes very heavy to carry around with you all day. Opt for a tablet if you have one or even just your smartphone if you are comfortable taking notes on a small device. One side note, I’ve never owned or used one of the newer “Ultrabook” style of laptops, so my recommendation is based on a traditional laptop weighing in at around 7 pounds. If I had an “Ultrabook” I’d probably carry that instead of my iPad simply because of the ease of use due to the full featured keyboard.

2. Wear comfortable shoes. You will walk more than you think. A lot of the sessions are held in Moscone Center, which is actually three different buildings each with at least two floors of convention space. After the first day at my first Dreamforce, I installed a pedometer app on my smartphone to see how much walking I was doing. I discovered that I was walking an average of about 5 miles per day, with the bulk of that travel being between sessions and wandering the Expo floor, since I did not return to my hotel during the middle of the day.

3. Wear layered clothing or bring a light jacket. San Francisco has beautiful weather nearly all year. It never really gets terribly hot or very cold, but with the proximity to the ocean the chances for a breeze are pretty good, and once the sun goes down, the air could get a little chilly.

4. Network, a.k.a., talk to people. Don’t be scared. Talk to everyone you can. The person on your right when waiting in line to go into a session; the person sitting to your left once you get inside a session. When you go to breakfast or lunch (both included in your conference registration) pick a table with a few people and see if they will let you join them. Out of the 45,000 + people at Dreamforce 2011, I managed to sit down for lunch at a table with one of my brother-in-law’s co-workers. (Cue the Walt Disney music: It’s a small world after all!) If you are shy, take the high-tech approach to networking. Bring a surge strip with you and hang out at a charging station between sessions – one surge strip could mean five instant connections.

5. Dreamforce isn’t just an 8am to 5pm event. Sure that’s when all the keynotes and breakout sessions occur, but there are also many opportunities for networking before and after those hours thanks to many partners sponsoring evening parties. Also be sure to check the Dreamforce App for groups like “DF13 Newbie Reunion Breakfast” (Shameless plug…that’s a group that I am organizing)

6. Dreamforce doesn’t just happen in San Francisco. Attend a Customer Company Tour in your area. Look for an event near you at http://www.salesforce.com/events/ . Join a user group in your area and attend the meetings regularly. You can find the user groups at: https://success.salesforce.com/userGroups . The Salesforce.com Community is an awesome way to expand your knowledge, increase the resources you can count on to help solve problems. You might even land a new job thanks to the power of the community. (I did – email me at eric.dreshfield@gmail.com or tweet me http://www.twitter.com/ericdresh if you want to hear more about that!)

7. Dreamforce isn’t just a week during the year. Thanks to the Dreamforce App it’s a perpetual event. Get active on the Chatter! Share your struggles and your successes. Get connected with people who you will meet BEFORE you get to Dreamforce and make friends that will last a lifetime!

So why do so many people attend Dreamforce year after year? In a word, because it is AWESOME!

The MVP Summit is over…so, now what’s next?

The first ever MVP Summit has come to a close and several of the MVPs have posted blogs with their recaps. They all have different views and emphasis, but there was one common theme being written about. I know most of you are now expecting me to invoke Safe Harbor or Non-Disclosure Agreements here and tell you that I can’t give you anymore details about the discussions at the Summit, so I won’t. There’s no need to keep confidential how the MVPs feel, where their passions lie, or what they expect for the future. That was the common theme between all the posts…passion and future expectations.

This post is all about next steps. Where do we go from here. Before I move forward, however, I would like to take a brief step backwards. Imagine it is 1984. Does society look like George Orwell predicted in his book, “1984”? Fortunately, today’s society isn’t even close to being overwhelmed by totalitarianism. Think about this, though, back in 1984 how many people had a computer in their home? How many people had a telephone that they could carry with them everywhere and actually be able to make a call with it? In 1985, the United States had 340,213 cell phone subscribers, and at the end of 2012, the number of wireless subscription connections in the United States alone was up to 324.4 million! (Data source: CTIA – The Wireless Association). A lot of technology has changed in the past 30 years, and the pace of that change has been increasing exponentially in the more recent years.

Automobiles are safer and more fuel efficient. Houses are built to withstand harsh extremes in weather while keeping the occupants at their chosen comfortable temperature and conserving natural resources as well. You can cook a meal much faster than before, and you can conduct business from anywhere.

Consider your smartphone, not only can you make a telephone call to anyone in the world, while walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood, but you can also watch a video, throw some angry birds across the sky, play a word game with people you don’t even know for halfway around the world, and run a successful business. Yes, you read that correctly. You can access everything you need to run a business, right from the palm of your hand. No software required. Login to a secure website, access the apps you need from contract proposals and quote-to-cash, from customer relationship management to customer service, from marketing automation to financial accounting.

The possibilities are endless.

Wondering where to start on this adventure? Visit Dreamforce and register for the worlds greatest technology conference. It’s jam-packed with over 1000 educational sessions that will help you improve your way of thinking, and increase the speed at which you get things done. you could learn how to create an app and make it mobile. You could see how to tap into the power of all that data you have been capturing, as well as see what your customers are saying about you on social networks. You can, in one simple word, transform your business and start a revolution, a non-violent revolution of thought. Don’t forget about promo code D13MVPREF when you register for Dreamforce to save $100.

Welcome to the new you…it’s you, transformed.