I’ll be honest, for the last big event I attended, I went into it with very little planning ahead. I was super busy at work with some upcoming deadlines and I just kept telling myself “Oh, the good sessions will stand out” and, “I’ll have plenty of time to scroll through the agenda and find what I need.” It will be fine, plus I’m sure I’ll make time on the plane to look for sessions.
Then it was 8:30 AM on the first day of the conference and there I stood, scrolling through sessions, only to find that one had just started a few blocks away and it was a speaker I came to the conference to hear. If only I could go back in time and tell myself to plan ahead! Because I can’t do that, I want to help you avoid the mistakes I have made at other conferences so that you have a wonderful Dreamforce experience. Let’s get started!
Review your bookmarks
If you have been scrolling through the Dreamforce Session pages bookmarking sessions, now would be a good time to prioritize them. Often I will bookmark sessions because the topic or speaker is something I am interested in. So in preparation for Agenda Builder take the time to prioritize your bookmarks.
Ask yourself this:
- What are the cornerstone sessions I need to attend? (Hint: the Salesforce for Admins Keynote!)
- What are the sessions that I should attend so that I can interact with the speaker?
If this is your first year…
I have to tell you that I have fond memories of my first Dreamforce. One in particular that stands out is sitting in my hotel room with my coworker and the Dreamforce book of sessions (yes, at one time it was a book) sprawled out on the bed trying to pick what sessions I wanted to go to. This is not the optimal way to pick sessions and thankfully we get the sessions ahead of time. Instead of hoping we find the right sessions, let’s make a list and have a strategy.
So here would be my game plan prior to choosing sessions:
- Think about your knowledge gaps.
Is it Service Cloud, Marketing Cloud, Einstein? What products or features are you less than familiar with?
- What do you need to know about?
Will you be moving to Lighting or implementing Communities in the upcoming year? If so look for sessions that will give you best practices or implementation tips.
- Are there people you want to meet at Dreamforce?
If so, check their site. Many Dreamforce speakers and companies will list the sessions they are presenting at.
- Avoid session-snacking.
I made the mistake my first year of going to every “tips & tricks” session. I’ll be honest, it’s like having cake for breakfast. It sounds good, and it’s alright once in a while, but it won’t sustain you.
- Browse the sessions by Role.
Admin, Developer, etc. and bookmark or follow the sessions that you are interested in based on numbers 1-4.
It’s no doubt you will have a list of sessions that outnumbers the time you have to attend each. You have to prioritize them. This is how I would set my priorities:
- Non-repeated sessions: Some sessions at Dreamforce will happen twice. You will see it listed on the agenda with a “(2)”. Prioritize the sessions that don’t repeat and sign up for those first.
- Demo sessions: Read the description carefully- does it say something about a demo or a walkthrough? If so, go to those sessions. If you don’t attend them watching them on YouTube just won’t be the same.
- Sessions that are presented by people you want to meet: Many Dreamforce sessions include Q&A time and the speakers will hang around afterward- this is your chance to meet some of the people you follow on Twitter or Salesforce experts.
If you are traveling with a group of co-workers…
Much of the advice above applies with a few extra caveats:
- Meet before, during, and after Dreamforce.
Meet before to talk about session schedules so you don’t duplicate them. Meet during- not for long but to check in and make any schedule adjustments. And meet after Dreamforce to exchange information, notes, and swag.
- Make sure you don’t duplicate a session.
If you are with a co-worker in a session you are doing it wrong. Divide and conquer, and take good notes.
- Think about how you will stay in touch.
Mobile Apps or group text messages work well to send messages to a group of people- making on-site micro-scheduling easier. Also, think about how you will stay in touch with co-workers back at the office. I’m a big fan of using Chatter to post pictures and updates to help bring some of the excitement back to your co-workers who can’t attend.