Dreamforce 2017: A First-timer’s Guide

Every year, more than 100,000 people descend upon scenic San Francisco for Salesforce’s annual conference – Dreamforce. Hotels and flights book up months in advance. The entire Salesforce community invades San Francisco for a few days of learning, networking, and plain old fun.

Sounds incredible, right? For a first-timer, though, it can be a bit overwhelming once you get there. I completely understand, as I’ve been in those shoes before. That’s why I’ve put together this handful of tips on how to survive (and thrive!) during your first Dreamforce.

1. Plan ahead.

Bookmark your sessions in advance, and don’t miss the opening of registrations. Sessions fill up fast. Then build out a good calendar for yourself so that you don’t have to spend the first hour of each morning frantically figuring out where you need to be and what you want to do. A great tool for this is the Dreamforce app. It manages the entire process and keeps your schedule handy for you. A huge bonus tip on this point: map out your walking for the day. If you only give yourself 10 minutes to walk half a mile to your next session, you’re going to end up frustrated and miserable instead of enjoying the experience.

2. Schedule your social activities.

If you’ve heard anything about Dreamforce, I’m sure you’ve caught rumors about the parties. The social events at the conference are second to none, and there are so many of them. That being said, many do require advance registration, so I suggest doing your research on Dreamforce 2017 early and signing up for the ones you don’t want to miss. Not sure where to start? Check out Partyforce, the app for Dreamforce party organization.

3. Take good notes.

You’re going to learn so much in just a few days at this conference. I cannot overstate that. If you don’t furiously write everything down, you’ll never be able to remember it all let alone apply it to your own Salesforce org and strategies when you return home. Make sure to write down your most important insights and takeaways to keep the benefits of Dreamforce rolling even after it ends. As a note, laptops can get heavy throughout the day, so a notebook and pen for notes isn’t a terrible idea. (I know, I know. What is this, 1995?!)

4. Pack business cards.

You’re going to meet many interesting people during your few days in San Francisco, and you’re going to want to stay in touch with some of them after the event is over. Make sure you bring enough business cards to hand out to your new friends so that you can connect and network with them later. Salesforce offers many social events by industry or interest too, so if you have questions about how to tackle a specific problem in your field, consider checking those out.

5. Don’t forget about the Expo.

Yes, you’re at Dreamforce 2017 to learn, but part of that is discovering new tools and services for your org. The Expo features hundreds of amazing companies who can help make your Salesforce strategies even more powerful. I recommend just wandering through once a day when you have some downtime.

6. Follow your favorite influencers to stay in the loop.

Interesting things will pop up at Dreamforce with no warning – a cool event, interesting insights, or even free food. I recommend making a Twitter list of your favorite Salesforce influencers and checking in on it every few hours while at the conference. You never know what you might learn and/or experience as a result!

7. Bring sneakers.

Sessions can be far apart, and you’ll be walking quite a bit from building to building and session to session. Don’t let yourself get blisters on the first day, or you’ll have a rough week.

8. Be patient, and take a breather.

There’s going to be more than 120,000 people in one small corner of San Francisco at once. You’re going to experience some chaos. Street corners will be packed. Lines in coffee shops will be a cruel joke in which you feel like you’ll die before you get your morning joe. Don’t let those little inconveniences get to you! Focus on the highlights of the event instead. Self-care is important during this week too, so if it gets overwhelming, take a step back. Meditate, do yoga, or read a book when you need a few minutes to yourself.

9. Pack layers, and bring an umbrella.

While many think of constant sunshine and warm weather when they picture the Bay area, the weather changes quickly in San Francisco. I recommend bringing a sweater and a small umbrella with you each day.

10. Carry a water bottle.

And keep it full throughout the day! You’ll be doing a lot of running around, and the last thing you want is to get dehydrated. To prove this point, Salesforce provides one to all attendees in the official Dreamforce backpacks (which you’ll get at check-in). Keep it on you, and drink lots of water!

11. Set a swag limit.

The swag at Dreamforce is insane. Insane. You’re going to get so much free stuff that by the end of the week, you’ll be questioning why you took half of it in the first place. You can avoid this swag regret by doing two things: one, only take something you really want and will use (or can gift to someone else) or two, only take swag from a company you want to remember after Dreamforce 2017.

12. And most importantly, enjoy yourself!

Yes, Dreamforce is essentially the mecca of all developer conferences, but it’s also a great opportunity to let loose and have fun. The many parties, happy hour, and other entertaining events are proof of that. Learn as much as you can during this week, but let your hair down in the evenings and enjoy yourself. After all, with everything you’re learning, your brain will need a break!

Enjoy Dreamforce 2017!

I hope you have a wonderful time at your first Dreamforce this November! If you have any questions about what else to expect, please drop it in a comment below. Our team members have been to the event many years over and have tons of insights to share. We’re happy to answer your questions and help you better prepare for one of the best conferences out there!

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