Maybe you’ve spent the last few weeks doing everything you’re supposed to do to prepare for DreamForce 2014—studying for the various certification tests offered, making reservations to have Michelin-starred power lunches with contacts of your dreams, and filling your mobile device with all the apps you need to really make the most of your time—and, then again, maybe not. Maybe you’ve just been at working, grinding through each day as usual and have discovered that, yep, DreamForce starts Monday. Monday.
No sweat. While, of course, it’s always best to be over-prepared, I’d personally rather be a flustered human than a well-oiled machine. Here’s a 10-step guide to being prepared enough at DreamForce 2014:
Step 1: Ensure you actually make it to DreamForce 2014:
Getting to DreamForce really is half the battle. It’s sort of like the SAT that way. Show up, sign your name, and BOOM, you get points. The fact of the matter is that your colleagues at DreamForce are so smart, so talented, you’re guaranteed to learn through osmosis. Just make sure you have your airport transportation all lined up, that you’ve purchased an airplane ticket, and you have your DreamForce registration with you.
Step 2: Bring at least 1 record to get signed by Neil Young, Bruno Mars, or Will.I.AM, and/or 1 book by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Al Gore, Tony Robbins, or Eckhart Tolle:
There’s no shame is fan-boy/girl-ing out at a conference. That’s what conferences are for. And while you might want to leave your Jimmy-Fallon-as-Neil-Young costume behind (this isn’t Comic Con, after all), being enthusiastic and connecting with some of the most influential people in our culture is always a good thing.
Step 3: Make at least 1 restaurant reservation:
Aside from the fact that San Francisco is arguably the best food city in the western United States, chances are, at some point during DreamForce 2014, you’re going to want to impress someone, whether it be a power-lunch, one-on-one networking with a thought-leader who’s always been just out of your grasp, whatever. We’ve put together a big list of San Francisco hotspots—both near Dreamforce and not so near—that should help with this. Just call now. Don’t wait until 100,000+ people are in a few square miles next Monday!
Step 4: RSVP for a couple of parties:
A conference is as much about offsite events as it is on. It’s like college that way… a bunch of people in a strange place reaching out to each other because that’s what seems like the thing to do. And fortunately, DreamForce has dozens of sponsors willing to drop big dollars to make sure you have an excellent time. It’s just that, unlike college, you have to RSVP to get it. Don’t let drinks flow and deals get made without you. Look at the list of events, find the ones that sound most useful to you, and sign up. Nobody wants to be that guy sitting alone outside a frat party.
Step 5: Make a plan for attending at least 1 industry-relevant keynote… and STICK TO IT
All the networking, eating, drinking, and working while not at work aside, you’re likely going to DreamForce 2014 to hear thought leaders from around the SalesForce ecosystem talk strategy and innovation. Good for you, Mister (or Miss… or Mrs.) Unfortunately, so is everyone else. And while there are numerous keynotes, you’ll be fighting for a spot at any given one like Milton fought for his stapler in Office Space (though hopefully with less fire). Take time now to review the list of keynotes, figure out where they are, where alternate viewings are set up, and make a plan that works for you.
Step 6: Download the 2 apps to rule them all –Evernote and ScanBizCards
There’re all kinds of apps you could bring to DreamForce… honestly, there’re all kinds of apps you could bring anywhere. But remember this: less is more (and the wireless connection at DF14 will be terrible). You don’t want cumbersome apps, apps that need to access the web to work, or something to distract you from the magic happening right before your eyes. You didn’t come to San Francisco to look at your phone. Just pick up Evernote (because it’s a lot easier than pen-and-paper or lugging around a laptop), and ScanBizCards (because all those business cards you collect deserve a nice, permanent home), and you’ll have everything you need to make contacts and keep track of all that good info.
Step 7: Pack appropriate clothing
I believe that nudity is frowned upon at DreamForce 2014. Further, though, people don’t seem to realize that San Francisco can be quite chilly. California chilly, but still. Bring layers and comfortable shoes. Or money to buy a jacket and blister strips.
Step 8: Get ready to CRAM on the plane
If you’re taking a certification test at DreamForce and haven’t already studied, get ready to do as much as you can on the plane. Make flash-cards, play word association games, do whatever you have to do to get yourself as ready as you can before you set foot in San Francisco. In my experience (and that of others), as soon as you arrive, studying will seem like less a priority. Treat the plane like it’s that library carrel you holed up in that time your realized you had a mid-term the next morning, and you hadn’t been to class since the first day. Make it happen. You’re a winner.
Step 9: Know that you’re a winner
It’s just important to know these things, especially when you’ll be surrounded by a large number of people that know all kinds of information that you don’t. If you weren’t a winner, no one would have invested in you going to DreamForce. If you weren’t a winner, you wouldn’t be so good at your job. Self-motivation and positive thinking go a long way toward winning a crowd, making connections, and keeping the confidence necessary to really crush it. So yeah, know that you’re a winner.
Step 10: Adopt a cat
While this isn’t actually necessary for DreamForce 2014, adopting a cat is just a good thing to do. There are so many in shelters that would love to be your little cat-guy or –girl and, double-bonus, they’ll be waiting for you when you get back from DF14 AND you’ll have a funny story to tell, making you way more relatable to potential contacts. What funny story, you ask? Spend 10 minutes with a cat and get back to me.
Just look at this guy:
So there you have it. Preparing for DreamForce doesn’t have to be stressful, and can be as simple as showing up, having some idea what you’re doing there, attending offsite events, and bringing everything you need to succeed. But seriously, a cat would make DreamForce 2014 even better. Trust me.
Are we forgetting anything? Let us know!