Instead, I'm going to tell you what people DON'T tell you about Dreamforce, and what I wished I had known before I left Melbourne for the trip to San Francisco in November 2018.
This was my first trip to San Francisco (a.k.a. Salesforce motherland) in the seven years I've worked for Salesforce (including my time at ExactTarget), and my first time at Dreamforce.
It’s important to prepare for what will be a massive week of exploring, learning, networking and fun. Here are my tips for attending Dreamforce.
Tips for attending Dreamforce
1. Embrace the chaos
It’s easy to get caught up in the scramble to collect as many badges, plushies and stickers as physically possible but remember that isn't your main purpose. Yes, it's fun, however learning and connecting is more important than taking swag home for the team.
You WILL get lost, especially if you're geologically challenged like me, and that's okay. Turn it into an adventure, be a trailblazer and discover something new. There are surprises around every corner.
2. Take it in, and take it down
Take notes of the messages that resonate with you, or if you learn something you don't want to forget. Photos are helpful, and taking notes in your own words will improve your retention for when you return home.
Don't worry if you miss something, or you’re unable to write fast enough. Most presentations are recorded and available for download after Dreamforce – the keynote presentations definitely are.
3. Be Purposeful
There’s always one person who gets all the VIP passes, and meets keynote speakers and celebrities (well, Salesforce celebrities like Marc Benioff and co). I am definitely not one of those people, and whilst the FOMO is real, remember your experience is your own, and is not any less than someone else’s experience.
Don't go to an event or presentation just because a colleague or customer told you. Take onboard recommendations but also consider what is valuable to you.
You can't be everywhere at once – don't expect to be at every venue, and every session and go to all the parties. Be purposeful, and pick what is most important to you, and make the most of your time when you're there. Be present, and enjoy the experience.
4. Invest in Self Care
Being an introvert, like many of us in the tech industry, it can be very draining to be talking and interacting with people all day. Venture out on your own without your colleagues for a few hours, and quietly sit in a few sessions, or wander around the expo hall (Campground). Amongst the chaos, you will find serenity. If not, there are zen zones to meditate, and other places to recharge.
It goes without saying, sleep is critical. Vital for resetting the body and mind, so you can continue learning and having fun for another day. Attend as many night events and parties as you’d like but don’t overdo it. Set yourself a time when you need to leave and try to stick to it (eg. midnight curfew to ensure you get at least 7 hours sleep before your 8am session).
5. Fuel your body right
Coffee. This is no joke, especially if you are suffering with jet lag after a long international flight. I ditched my first latte after the first sip (no exaggeration, it was all milk) and went to Starbucks in a weak moment to get something half decent. One word for you: Mazarine. You'll thank me later.
Don't forget to EAT! I found myself losing track of time and accidentally missing meals, so I always made sure to stop by a trusty sushi restaurant (ONO Sushi) for a roll or two on the way back to my hotel. Find your ONO Sushi.
If you ever get the opportunity to go to Dreamforce, GO!!!! You will come out the other side exhausted, inspired and have a renewed sense of purpose.