The odds are pretty good that, if you deal with sales and marketing and software, you’re going to be rather tired by the end of this week. Dreamforce, the annual Salesforce.com bacchanalian, is in its first day, building toward a crescendo with its keynote from CEO Marc Benioff on Tuesday afternoon and cruising into a day of product keynotes on Wednesday.
The speeches are an anchor, and can be very informative (or not so much, depending on Salesforce’s success in developing its vision in the previous year). The sessions are really useful, and Salesforce does a fantastic job of attracting thought leaders to augment its own session presenters.
But the really great thing about a show, when it gains a certain size, is that the event’s attendees can become the most compelling attraction. Dreamforce has blown past that point and now threatens to become a mega show where, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, there’s so much stuff there you can’t find anything.
That doesn’t mean that people and companies your business needs to talk to aren’t there – it just means that you have to do some work ahead of time to ensure that you meet the people you need to meet, and put yourself in position to make the accidental acquaintances that can sometimes mean so much to your business. Think of it this way: when Dreamforce was a smaller event, it was like climbing a small mountain. You’d encounter every wonder the terrain had to offer just by taking a walk. Now, it’s a little more like climbing Everest: you need to establish base camp and do some serious planning to ensure you don’t miss anything. (Also, like Everest, there are times when your WiFi won’t work. Curse you, Moscone Center!)
We talk a lot about using time productively. That also goes for Dreamforce. Use your time wisely. For example, Marc Benioff’s keynote is always a big draw, but if every seat in the hall is filled – and the official capacity of Moscone’s Halls A, B and C is 16,200 – then you’ll be battling to get out and back to the expo. You can watch the keynote via streaming video and audio (always well done by Salesforce’s team) by accessing the Dreamforce home page, and you can do that in your hotel room. You may not get to sit near Neil Young or Will.I.Am, but you’ll probably get more done.
One tip, offered with a tip of the hat to business podcaster Thom Singer, is to avoid using breaks to stare at your smart phone. You can field emails whenever. When you’re at a show like Dreamforce, you have a chance to meet someone who can transform your business – a potential customer, a future employee or a great partner. Ignoring real-live people in favor of gazing at a glowing screen is a monumental waste – you can do that when you get back to the office or back to your hotel!
You should also plan your route through the exhibition halls with care. There’s no sense in running from Moscone North/South to West and back again. For your own sanity and to avoid exhaustion, pick up a program and exhibitor map first thing and check off the locations of your must-visit vendors’ booths. Then, you can hit them in sequence, one hall at a time. Make three passes of both convention center buildings over three days and you can spare yourself from being exhausted at the end of each day.
Need some suggestions for booths to visit? Try North Hall 2017 – that’s CallidusCloud’s booth. If you’re looking for learning technology, visit Litmos at North Hall 1220 (they’ll have fresh popcorn on Tuesday and Wednesday if you need a snack). And, on Tuesday and Wednesday, if you need a mid-show energy boost, stop by for a cup of coffee at West Hall 326.
I’ll be on the show floor – if you have an idea for a blog topic, look for the frazzled guy wearing a tie, and please say hello!