Dreamforce is the largest software event there is. If you are a cloud computing practitioner, it is the best opportunity of the year to learn, network, and get inspired. But it can also be overwhelming if you don’t approach it with the right mindset, or show up unprepared.
I’ve attended Dreamforce 5 times before, and put together some unique tips for you to get the best experience possible. Some of these are a bit unconventional, so if you are into life-hacking, give them a try!
- I’ve always been local or driven in and stayed with friends in SF. Despite the huge number of attendees, I’ve never had a problem finding parking in the local garages. In fact, I find them to be rather empty!
- Many sessions are recorded. Consider skipping some of these sessions if you don’t need to talk with the presenters or attendees live. Take full advantage of the in-person opportunities and time shift some of the sessions to post-dreamforce video watching from the comfort of your couch at home.
- Walk around the dev zone and the exhibition halls and don’t hesitate to ask questions about anything which may interest you. Heck, even things which don’t interest you! In practically every case you will find the people working the booths will teach you something relevant you didn’t expect. You would have never found this out if you didn’t talk to them. Plus they are very friendly and motivated to talk to you. Learn the art of asking the right questions, and not lingering any longer than is necessary – there is so much to see!
- Tweet your experiences with the #DF15 hashtag. You’d be surprised how many people follow this hashtag, and it helps those who can’t attend to feel like they are part of it.
- If you decide to attend the keynotes, get there EARLY. Consider an hour early for the main keynote as it always ends up in overflow. You can watch the keynotes recorded, but it’s like watching star wars at home vs. on the big screen. You work hard all year long, and a live keynote is a chance to recharge yourself and be inspired.
- Get excited about all the amazing demos, but remember they are just demos. They may include features which aren’t generally available yet, or be the product of tons of custom work. What you see might not be exactly what you get when you “open the box” when you get back home. They represent what is possible, perhaps in the future. They don’t always represent the current offering.
- The extra-curricular events put on by salesforce partners are a great networking opportunity, and provide free food and open bars. Be sure to check out at least one of these, and enjoy in moderation. They add a unique dimension to your dreamforce experience. Keep an eye out for ones which provide products or services you are actually interested in, and conversation will flow naturally around this.
- Be careful with sessions in different buildings on campus. For example Moscone West to Palace Hotel is a long, brisk walk to do if you have back to back sessions. Some exercise if good, but you don’t want all your sessions to be spread out in this way.
- There are different free lunches to be had in different buildings. If you happen to be in a campus hotel with sessions around lunch time, you may get something unique which isn’t offered in the Moscone area.
- Wifi and cellular networks become saturated to the point where they don’t work. Find out how to change your phone settings to fall back from LTE to 4G->3G->Edge. Using the older networks will often work when the newer ones fail. Slow connection is better than no connection. Don’t forget to switch it back, though!
In addition to this list, there is a Dreamforce Trail on Trailhead. Trailhead is the new salesforce learning path tool which makes learning interactive and fun. The dreamforce trail will teach you a ton of good information you need to know to have a successful dreamforce experience. It will also let you get your feet wet with Trailhead if you haven’t used it before. You earn a badge for completing it, which will make you want to learn more and earn more badges in other areas of salesforce.