The Dreamforce Newbie Survival Kit, 2017 Edition

Dreamforce. The name says it all.

Thousands and thousands of people dream about attending, and once they get there, they feel this inexplicable force that draws them back year after year. 2017 will be my seventh year attending Dreamforce, and if I have my way, I will continue return every year, just like the Monarch Butterfly’s annual migration to Mexico, Florida and southern California, except that I use an airplane and BART for my modes of transportation, since I don’t have wings!

Here are a few tips that I think all first-time Dreamforce attendees should know:

1. Leave the laptop at home – If you must bring it to San Francisco, leave it secured in the safe at your hotel room. You will quickly find that it becomes very heavy to carry around with you all day, even if it’s one of the ultralight laptops. Opt for a tablet if you have one or even just your smartphone if you are comfortable taking notes on a small device. (Please note – I do NOT always practice what I preach, and I usually pay the price for that. If you must bring your laptop, opt for a backpack or messenger-style bag that can cross your body, not just hang off one shoulder. You don’t want to end the week with a definitive lean.)

2. Wear comfortable shoes – You will walk more than you think. WAY more than you think. Many of the sessions are held in Moscone Center, which is actually three different buildings each with at least two floors of convention space. There are also sessions scattered about the city in various other locations including a theater and many hotels. If you are not used to walking a lot, get on a treadmill or get outside and start walking now! You might even want to bring more than one pair of comfortable shoes…just be sure they are not brand new. Breaking in new shoes at Dreamforce is a recipe for sore and tired feet!

3. Wear comfortable clothing – Be sure to dress in layers or bring a light jacket. San Francisco has beautiful weather nearly all year. It never really gets terribly hot or very cold, but with the proximity to the ocean, the chances for a breeze are pretty good, and once the sun goes down, the air could get a little chilly. This will be especially true this year, since Dreamforce in in November. For me, being from the Midwest, this is what I call camping weather. (Hmm…that fits in nicely with Trailhead!)

SFO DF17 Weather

 

4. Network –  a.k.a., talk to people. Don’t be scared. Talk to everyone you can. Talk to the person on your right when waiting in line to go into a session. Talk to the person sitting to your left once you get inside a session. When you take a break to eat lunch (included in your conference registration) be brave and sit near people you don’t know…and start a conversation! (Be sure to eat! Be sure to stay hydrated as well. With all the walking and mental exercise you’ll be getting during Dreamforce, you’ll need all the nourishment you can find!) Back to talking to people –  Just do it. Outside your comfort zone is where the magic happens. You’ll never know who you’ll meet. Out of the 45,000 + people at Dreamforce 2011, I managed to sit down for lunch at a table with one of my brother-in-law’s co-workers. (Cue the Walt Disney music: It’s a small world after all!) If you are shy, take the high-tech approach to networking. Bring a surge strip with you and hang out at a charging station between sessions – one surge strip could mean five instant connections.

5. Dreamforce “After Hours” – Be prepared for some long days. This isn’t just an 8am to 5pm conference. Sure that’s when most of the keynotes and breakout sessions occur, but there are also many opportunities for networking before and after those hours thanks to many partners sponsoring parties. Your one stop shop for all things Dreamforce is the Apttus Dreamforce All Access site. And don’t forget about the Success Community, with its many Dreamforce related groups like “New to Dreamforce” and “Dreamforce Newbie Reunion Breakfast” (Shameless plug number 1: That’s a group that I am organize, and it’s purpose is to help Dreamforce first-timers make a connection or two, while helping to raise money for Project Night Night. Want to attend the breakfast on Monday, November 6th from 6:30am to 8:30am? Register here.)

6. Training – If you can, take advantage of the pre-conference training opportunities, and if you are considering getting a Salesforce certification, Dreamforce is the perfect opportunity for that too, and at a discounted price too! Once you get your certification, tweet it out with #ThisOneIsForYouTamiEsling, use the same hashtag in the Success Community and on Facebook too! Doing so will make your celebration of certification a tribute to the late Tami Esling, a Salesforce MVP who passed away on March 5th, 2016, who made it her mission to help people get certified.

7. Go Global – Dreamforce doesn’t just happen in San Francisco. Dreamforce happens all over the globe! Attend a Salesforce World Tour or Trailhead Live event in your area. Look here for an event near you. Join a user group in your area and attend the meetings regularly. Look for awesome regional, Community led Salesforce events, and attend those too! The Salesforce Community is an awesome way to expand your knowledge and increase not only your network of people, but also the resources you can count on to help you solve problems.

8. All Year Long – Dreamforce isn’t just a week during the year. Thanks to the Success Community it’s a perpetual event. Get active on the Community and share your struggles and your successes. Get connected with the people you will meet BEFORE you get to Dreamforce and make friends that last a lifetime!

So why do so many people attend Dreamforce year after year? In a word, because it is AWESOME!

Shameless plug number 2: I’m doing a fundraiser for Project Night Night that doesn’t involve eating too! Last year I shaved off my beard for Dreamforce and raised over $2,000 for Project Night Night. This year, I’ll shave it off again if I hit $3,000 or more, and if I top $6,000, I’ll shave my head too! You can donate to that campaign here.

Want to meet up with me at Dreamforce? Tweet me!

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Hurry! Offer Expires at 11:59 PM Central Time, September 30, 2017!

Want to Attend Dreamforce 2017, and Help Homeless Children at the Same Time?

If you had the chance to do something (that you do every year) and help a great cause at the same time, would you do it?

Yes, that was a rhetorical question, but do me a favor, answer it anyway.

My answer would be a resounding ‘yes’. I try to give back to the Salesforce community every chance I get. So I reached out into my network of connections in search of a pass to Dreamforce that I could auction off with the proceeds going to Project Night Night. I was very fortunate in that the first person I emailed replied back with a resounding “Happy to provide that for you.”

I’ve had the 2017 edition of  “Attend Dreamforce, Help a Homeless Child” contest running for a while now. The high bid (at the time this blog went live) is $500. Keep in mind that the current rate for a Dreamforce pass is $1,799. One lucky winner will get a free pass to attend Dreamforce* and many homeless children will get a NightNight pack from Project Night Night. (*Conference fees only, sorry – travel and other accommodations are the responsibility of the winner.)

Please answer these two questions:

  1. Do you, or someone you know, still need a pass to Dreamforce, or want to save money on the pass you already have?
  2. Do you want to help children have sweeter dreams at the same time?

If you answered yes to both questions, please place your bids here. To see the current high bid, follow me on Twitter and search for #DF17PNN_HIGHBID.

The bidding will close at 11:59 PM on Friday, September 30, 2017.

URGENT UPDATE: If you already have a pass to Dreamforce and you are the winner, you can simply contact the Dreamforce Registration and Housing Hotline:

U.S./Canada: +1-866-855-3818
International: +1-650-416-8832.

If you happened to answer the first question with a no, please visit Project Night Night and consider making a donation.

Either way, please follow Project Night Night on Twitter and support their cause with prayers!

Thanks!

I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Lauren Touyet

This is the forty-seventh post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the founder of Salesforce Ohana Coffee, and Salesforce FanGirl (her words,  not mine), Lauren Touyet.

Lauren

What’s your job title? Senior Systems Analyst, DocuSign, and Host of Salesforce Ohana Coffee! (EFD – DocuSign?!?  I love DocuSign. I’ve used them for a few years to manage all the sponsorship agreements for Midwest Dreamin’!)

What does that mean you do? Obviously, I talk about how amazing Salesforce is but I also am the only Salesforce professional in Europe for my company so I wear a few hats: I am a trainer, making sure we are using the system the way we should and stopping the bad habits; I am a sounding board for all the ideas the business has; I am an Admin who solves problems with Salesforce, I am a ninja who fixes all the gremlins in the system; I am a process adviser making sure processes match the system design and finally I am a gate keeper of our security making sure the apps and plug ins we install are above board. (EFD – I have just one question, ok, maybe three: 1.) With all that stuff you do, how do you find time to sleep? 2.) If you are the gate keeper, who is the key master? and 3.) What prompted you to start Salesforce Ohana Coffee, and what is it all about?)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I started using Salesforce when I was order processing in my old job. We used it for discounting customers’ orders – that was back in 2009. I remember the training we received (it was nothing fancy) but I remember thinking finally a system we can use that doesn’t have the hassle of chasing Sales people for approval codes. From there I tried to learn as much as I could. In 2011 that company was rolling out email to case and a few managers encouraged me to apply for the Salesforce admin position, and the rest, as they say is history!.  (EFD – Hey! It sounds like you may not have been an “Accidental Admin”! )

Bacon or sausage? It’s Bacon, or nothing!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? While is it definitely imperative to know your stuff, you can’t be expected to know everything which is why who you know is so important. That’s why I love the community – if I get stuck I can reach out and I know they all have my back. To me, the community is more than people who do the same job as me, they are family and my best friends! I know that is silly to say about people who are half way around the world and who I only see at Dreamforce but true I talk to the Ohana daily. That is why I love Ohana Coffee so much. I meet up with my friends to talk work, life, events and everything else! (EFD – I guess that answers my 3rd question from above. One word of caution – if you join the Ohana Coffee sessions, be aware that Lauren says she will post unflattering pictures of everyone on Twitter. It’s true…check out the pics below!)

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How did our relationship start, and when? I followed you on twitter for a while and then we met at a Dreamforce party, however I didn’t know it was you until after the party! But our relationship definitely grew when you started attending Ohana Coffee and we got to chat more and share stories and experiences. The timing is hard to pinpoint. I was twitter stalking you for a good while before Dreamforce, but wasn’t sure if you were a catfish. So I would say the Dreamforce Party on a rooftop (I think it was the Apttus party.)  (EFD – And now I’m Googling “catfish” to see what that really means. Should I be insulted, or flattered?)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? When I was a kid, I used to work on movie sets in Ireland with my Dad. We would rewire the stars’ trailers as they were brought in from America and were a different voltage! I have worked on the sets of “Michael Collins”, “Mrs Browns Boys”, “Veronica Guerin” and “Agnes Brown”. (EFD – So you might have rubbed elbows with some celebrities…and now you are a celebrity in the Salesforce ecosystem! It’s really true: what goes around, comes around.)

You can find Lauren on Twitter. Be sure to also follow Ohana Coffee.