Dreamforce: 5 Strategies for the Uninitiated Small Business or Nonprofit

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By: Brent Shively | 9.9.14

In case you haven’t heard, there’s an event that will bring close to 150,000 people traveling to San Francisco on October 12th, and it’s not the Bay Area’s Columbus Day Parade. Dreamforce has continued to grow year after year with each experience surpassing the previous in every way imaginable. What has changed significantly in the past few years is the new opportunities for small/medium businesses and nonprofits - there will be over 10,000 nonprofit attendees this year making it the biggest nonprofit tech conference around.

Dreamforce is an opportunity to discover new applications first hand, get your complicated Salesforce questions answered by experts, network within and outside your industry, and if the tradition continues, witness game-changing announcements that shift the Salesforce ecosystem. Plus, if you can tear yourself away from all this, you can catch inspirational keynotes from Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Tony Robbins, and/or Marc Benioff.

This is a behemoth of an event, which can make it difficult to navigate for first timers (and even veterans). To make it more manageable, here are some recommendations from our experiences at Dreamforce.

  1. Plan Ahead: fill your calendar now

There will be around 150,000 people and over 1,400 sessions at Dreamforce ’14, and if you aren’t intentional with setting goals before showing up at the conference, then your fight or flight response is sure to kick in. Fortunately, Salesforce launches an Agenda Builder September 10 at 8am sharp that allows you to register early for which sessions you want to attend. If you have a popular session that you really want to attend, register through the Agenda Builder ASAP. When you login to Success starting 9/10, you will see a new tab called "My Agenda” where you can register for sessions. If you aren’t attending in full, you can get a free expo pass here.   

  1. Be Strategic with Your Time: prioritize Hands-on-Trainings

You have so many options for how to spend your time at Dreamforce. Sessions! Keynotes! Your Unique Industry Zone! Getting Certified! Parties! Dreamforce veterans will almost unanimously tell you that Hands-on-Trainings are the best use of time, so if you’re a Salesforce admin or developer, make sure to sign up for a few of these as soon as Agenda Builder goes live.

Most importantly: be sure to segment your time between what will maximize the ROI to you and your company or organization. This could involve seeing a live solution demo in the Foundation Zone (the hub for nonprofits), getting your Dev certificate at Salesforce University, or networking with potential customers or partners. If you need to make adjustments to your schedule because of a potential lead or you heard about a surprise session, you can make changes to your schedule on the fly using the Dreamforce ’14 app.

  1. Pace Yourself: you can’t do everything

Sensory overload is a mild term for the Dreamforce experience, and if your approach is to fill every possible hour in San Francisco, then you may find yourself waking up in the UCSF Medical Center. It’s important to remember that it’s not physically possible to see and do everything. Your priorities should be to keep hydrated, eat at regular intervals, have some good conversations and get a modicum of sleep. If you’ve got some unplanned down time, put it to good use by taking a quick power nap.

  1. Have Fun: make time for parties

Dreamforce is an opportunity to connect with people from every conceivable part of the Salesforce ecosystem, and it is organized to facilitate all types of interactions. There are volunteer activities set up throughout the week where you can give back and work alongside fellow Salesforce enthusiasts. This year, Bruno Mars will be headlining the gala concert on Tuesday, which will see the proceeds going to children who need it most. And if there wasn’t enough to do already, there are parties happening every night sponsored by the companies and applications you see throughout the day, giving everyone a chance to relax and socialize. May we suggest our Engagement Party for Wednesday night?

5. Process, Reflect, and Follow Up

For four days, you will find yourself immersed in all things Salesforce and returning to your office can be a bit of reverse culture shock. Schedule some time on your calendar now to speak with your boss and colleagues Monday morning to let them know about all the new and exciting things you learned at Dreamforce, whether that relates to potential functionality of the database or a new application you came across. Finally, be sure to capitalize on your networking efforts and follow up with all of the connections you made at Dreamforce.

Will we be seeing you at Dreamforce October 13-16? Come say hello in person at our Engagement Party and Foundation Zone booth!



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