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Countdown to Dreamforce ’13: Make a Plan (to not Overplan)

Dreamforce '13Dreamforce ’13 is quickly shaping up to be enormous. Session registrations are filling up as are inboxes with new product announcements, contests and party invites. No doubt the open slots of your calendar are also quickly being consumed with business meetings, after-hours meetups, and a few spare moments to catch up with friends and partners.

Like an overscheduled grade-schooler, it’s very easy to get caught up in the rush that is Dreamforce. There can be a sense of obligation to take in as much of the event as possible. While I’m certainly not telling you to throw your hands up and cancel your registration, I would suggest you strike a balance in your schedule while you’re there. Set some boundaries and you’ll actually get more out of Dreamforce.

You’re Going to Miss a Session (or 1,000)

Last I checked, there were 1432 sessions in the Dreamforce app. Sure, several of the these are larger training workshops, keynotes, etc. Still, the reality is you’re going to not attend way more sessions than you will attend. My suggestion: pick a few each day that sound most interesting and relevant to you and attend those. Don’t despair: every single session is posted online after Dreamforce, and you could literally spend every lunch hour between that time and next year’s Dreamforce watching all of them on YouTube.

Beyond Schwag: Expo as Education

In one lap of the Dreamforce Expo, you can collect more schwag than will likely fit in a spare suitcase. Schwag is fun (who can resist free mints?), but to me, the Expo is like the “after-session sessions” at Dreamforce. You get a chance to see consultants, product managers, and support specialists in their element. Most boothworkers want to “teach” about their product in an interesting and memorable way that goes beyond just selling a product. Hone in on booths that have a product or service that can potentially solve a problem you’re facing in your work back at the office. Look at it less in terms of “being sold to” and more in terms of being educated about the products and services that support the Salesforce ecosystem.

Party, but don’t after-party

Just about every company with a Dreamforce budget will be throwing some sort of social event. Just like sessions, try to find the events that will be the most benefit to you, whether it’s meeting people who work in similar positions in their daily lives, potential customers, or super-smart developerfolk who want nothing more than to ponder the virtues of the Force.com platform over a tasty beverage. As a business owner, I’ve found that smaller (and quiter) events generate more leads than the larger events. Remember, it will get late and there will be alcohol – don’t wear yourself out!

Make Time for the “In-Betweens”

I can’t stress this enough: no matter what your purpose for being at Dreamforce (business owner, product pitcher, mobile developer, you name it), the essence of Dreamforce is the chance to make 100,000+ new friends each day. So many backgrounds, interests and experiences make for an amazing melting-pot to learn from and make connections in. To me, the time in between all the scheduled events is the #1 reason for attending Dreamforce. With everyone there for basically the same reasons, it’s easy to start conversations at the lunch table, in line for coffee, or walking across the Dreamforce campus. It’s in these times that business cards are exchanged, features of the latest release are discussed, products are pitched, and new business partners and mentors are met.

For more tips on attending Dreamforce read other posts in our Countdown to Dreamforce ’13 series.