Dreamforce is fast approaching with only 21 days left as I write this post. If you’re a Dreamforce veteran, then you’re probably just reading this post to ensure you are as prepared as can be, if it’s your first time, then pay close attention. Dreamforce is not to be underestimated, it’s one of the biggest software conferences in the world and it can really takes a toll on your body. Don’t get me wrong, you will have an amazing time however you approach it, but you can avoid some common mistakes by taking the time to read posts like these so you don’t leave with regrets.
This post is divided into two main sections, what you can bring to be as prepared as possible, and the strategy you can take to cover as much of the event as possible. If you’ve been to some of the Salesforce World Tours before then you’ve got a flavour of what to expect. But remember that Dreamforce isn’t confined to one conference centre, it’s spread over multiple huge centres, hotels, cinemas, roads (Yes, they shut down roads), bars, pubs and basically anywhere that Salesforce or one of it’s many partners can get their hands on. THIS Ladies and Gentlemen, is why strategy is so important…
1. Location Strategy
As mentioned above, Dreamforce is spread over a huge geographical area compared to any other conference I’ve been to, this means that you could be walking upwards of a mile to get from one session to another. When you combine this with the tens of thousands of Salesforce revellers eager to get to their next session as well, expect delays and queues, especially in the areas with the highest footfall such as Moscone. What this means is that you have to be super smart when you are planning your day, if you have places to be, meetings to attend, sessions to learn from, ensure that you leave enough time to get from one to the other. As a rule of thumb, you can generally double the amount of time it would usually take you to get from A to B, then you have your estimate.
Here’s a great example of the scale of Dreamforce that someone has put together using Google Maps, the grey flags are used to indicate the session areas.
2. Agenda Strategy
An area that ties in well to your location strategy is definitely your agenda strategy. If you haven’t already, head on over to the Agenda Builder to start searching though the 2,700+ sessions to start building up a picture of what you would like to learn about during the week. You will definitely need to use the options on the side to filter though the sessions by job role, experience, industry, and many more. When building up your Agenda, take the location into account and maybe do a bit of research to see if it’s even feasible to get from one to another in a reasonable amount of time. I’ve seen these common mistakes over and over, people get a bit to trigger happy and fill up their entire day with sessions where they will probably not make 50% of them. This is a shame as some sessions do sell out quickly, and by reserving sessions that you just won’t attend means your fellow Trailblazers might not get a chance to come (Although there is always some space reserved for walk-ins and no shows so you can always try!). But do remember… Sessions are only one small part of Dreamforce.
3. Expo Strategy
As mentioned above, believe it or not sessions really are just one part of Dreamforce, there is an incredible amount of people to meet, things to do, fun to be had, you don’t want to book yourself out all day everyday with sessions. When you’re planning your week, ensure you leave large amounts of your days to discover these other areas of Dreamforce. Although every year is different, I’ll try and give you a flavour of what else to expect.
Partner Expo – Now this really is a sight to behold. Ever seen the Partner Expo’s at the world tours? Well you ain’t seen nothing like this. The Dreamforce Expo has over 400 Salesforce partners attending, so whatever Apps you use or are looking to use, you can assume that they will be there.. You really have to give it to these partners, they put nearly half a year preparing for Dreamforce and the show they put on for you is impressive. I usually end up browsing the Expo in my free time, but I would recommend reserving at least 4 hours to look around.
Admin Zone – The Admin zone last year was one of the best decorated displays I’ve ever seen at a conference. In keeping with the Trailhead theme, the whole hall had fake grass, trees rising to the height of the ceiling, log cabins and Trailblazers as far as the eye could see. But putting the foliage aside, the Admin zone is where a lot of people spend the majority of their time. You can expect mini sessions, Trailhead challenges, demos and enough swag to fill your entire suitcase home. Admin or not, you will need to spend at least 4-6+ hours here.
Dev Zone – Placed in the same hall as the Admin zone, you can expect a similar vibe for our codey friends out there.
DreamPark – The DreamPark has become the place to gather and chill out with your friends and colleagues. Dreampark is constructed on Howard St between 3rd and 4th. Yes Salesforce actually completely close down a block to host DreamPark. Every year they put on a very cool display with Bean Bags everywhere, games, food, drinks, live music nearly all day every day, and huge screens to watch the keynotes on. You will also find charitable and wellness projects that Salesforce is working to promote. Although you don’t exactly need to reserve time to explore the DreamPark. you will probably find yourself here every day.
Now you’ve got an idea of how to strategise your Dreamforce week, let’s look at some quick fire Dreamforce tips to ensure you can be your best.
– Ensure your bring comfy shoes, my FitBit kindly let me know that I completed the most steps ever in the Dreamforce week. Prioritise comfort over look.
– In addition to comfy shoes, compression socks can really help alleviate the pain of being on your feet all day and night. There is a limited amount of seating for 170,000+ people!
– Ensure you only bring the essentials. You WILL be provided with a lot of swag and may even win some big prizes. Leave some room.
– Salesforce provide you with a bag which contains some swag and a water bottle every year. If you want to maximise your luggage space, consider leaving your laptop bag at home to use the one provided.
– Please ensure you keep hydrated and fill the water bottle at many of the provided stations around the campus
– Salesforce provide free lunch within your ticket cost which is served at locations around the campus. The main bulk of the food is provided at Dreampark.
– Try and speak to as many people as possible. Dreamforce has always been about networking and you won’t get a better chance than this. Where else do you have something in common with nearly 200,000 people in one place!
– Reserve time for exploring the city of San Francisco for before or after Dreamforce, you simply won’t have time during.
– Attend some of the late night parties. A lot of the parties hosted by Partners are a great place to network and let off some steam. Find a full list here.
Dreamforce Packing List
Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you to remember to bring your passport or underwear, these are a few things that I would recommend bringing to ensure you can get the most out of Dreamforce.
– Mobile Phone Charger. This is a must to bring to Dreamforce so you don’t run out of juice on the go, but also so you’re not waiting around queuing for an outlet. I would recommend buying a pretty meaty charger like this one. In total this gives you 7 charges over the day which is pretty overkill, but it can charge other devices and is actually pretty small in size.
– Compression socks. These magical devices can give your feet and ankles extra support throughout the week. If you are prone to swelling or inflammation then they can help with that too.
– Insoles. If you’re not looking to buy comfy shoes or if you want to give your feet that extra luxury touch, try buying some insoles that can mould to your feet and support you even further.
– Tablet. I’m not usually a tablet man, but I am actually considering buying one specifically for Dreamforce. Whilst I usually bring a laptop with me everywhere I go, it is bulky and can take it’s toll when you’re lugging it around all day.
– Business Cards. Dreamforce is one of the best networking events you will ever go to, make sure you’re prepared to meet people.
– Umbrella. The last two times I’ve been in Dreamforce I’ve had to buy a cheap umbrella to get me out of trouble. November has 3x the rainfall in San Fran that Oct, so stock up!
– Vitamins & Hangover cures. Dreamforce will takes it toll on your body and you might be out a lot later than you usually would or plan to be, ensure you have something to help you out!
No matter how prepared you are for Dreamforce, you are sure to have an amazing time, there are just a few things to do to ensure you maximise your fun. Prepare to be blown away, and prepare for your vocal chords to be shot by the end of this incredible 4 day event. If you see me walking around, be sure to say hi!