Start Planning for Dreamforce ’16 Today
By: John Sitarski, Online Marketing Specialist at ASTM International
It’s been a month since Dreamforce ’15 and I’m already thinking about the next one. Call me crazy but as a seasoned veteran – this was my third year attending – I have learned a thing or two on preparing for the largest nonprofit technology conference in the world. Dreamforce is a truly amazing experience and as my thoughts are turning to next year’s, I began reflecting on my first Dreamforce and what I wish I had known before attending.
Start planning now
Like most trips or big events, the earlier you plan, the better. Some people start to book their hotel accommodations a year in advance…yes, that early. I made the mistake my first year of waiting until two months before the conference to register and book my travel and accommodations. This led to paying a very high per night fee at a hotel in Union Square. My second year, I had learned my lesson and registered* far in advance once the conference dates were released (next year’s are October 4-7, 2016). I was also able to secure a room at the discounted Dreamforce rate. So save yourself the headache and book early! And if anything does come up and you’re no longer able to attend, you can always cancel your hotel reservation free of charge.
Don’t overbook yourself
With so many sessions to choose from, it can be a little overwhelming when you start building your agenda (which you should do before you arrive). In past years, I made the mistake of scheduling too many sessions and not realizing how long it would take to get from one event to another. You also don’t want to exhaust yourself to where you’re no longer retaining anything. The best thing to do is nail down a few key sessions you want to attend and reserve your spot in those. This leaves you some unscheduled time to explore the floor, see some demos, attend the keynotes, and maybe catch some special guests (Stevie Wonder was there this past year!). I would suggest using “Agenda Builder,” a tool posted on the Salesforce website that lets you sort breakout sessions by industry, theme, products, and more.
Learn from others outside your industry
During my first Dreamforce, I chose sessions and topics that only pertained to me as a marketing professional in the nonprofit sector. While it is great to learn from peers in your industry, I learned so much from attending sales sessions, developer sessions, and seeing what the larger enterprise organizations were doing. Hearing from thought leaders in other industries really opened my eyes to different ways to leverage the Salesforce platform and I came away with some great ideas to bring back to my organization.
Hampton Creek’s Josh Tetrick inspired and educated with his take on sustainability and business growth.
Take advantage of the freebies
Many conferences are extremely expensive with all that adds up over the week – registration fees, travel, accommodations, plus the cost of food and drink. Luckily there are some ways to cut down on these expenses. Booking early helps with the hotel cost and as a nonprofit organization, the Dreamforce registration fee is discounted.* In addition, Salesforce goes above and beyond by providing free breakfast and lunch during the conference (as well as popcorn and soda at some sessions this year). At night, there are plenty of vendor parties and happy hours to grab free food and drink. Someone was even able to dine completely free for the whole week this past year!
Be social and have some fun
In addition to being an amazing learning experience, Dreamforce is also about networking and having fun. One of the main benefits I get out of Dreamforce is the networking I can do with my peers. In addition to sessions, there are plenty of choices when it comes to happy hours, parties, and events. My suggestion is to plan your parties just the way you plan your sessions. There is an app called “Partyforce” which will let you register for many of the parties that are hosted by vendors and partners. All of the parties are great, but get there early! Lines build up fast. Two events that are must attend are the Idealist Consulting party and the annual Gala concert which has included Green Day, Bruno Mars, and the Foo Fighters in years past.
The Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl reminded every Dreamfest attendee why he’s a world-renowned rock star.
I’m very excited for Dreamforce 2016 and I hope some of these tips help you out as you begin to prepare. Remember to register* and start planning now and I look forward to seeing you there next year!
*Nonprofit organizations receive discounted registration for Dreamforce ’16. Stay tuned for the discount code!
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