Dreamforce 2016 is one of the largest nonprofit technology and innovation conferences in the world. You may have been to UK and European conferences, but this is on a different scale!
If you’re making your way across the pond from the UK, here’s my top tips for getting the best out of what is set to be a hugely busy but extremely rewarding visit.
1.) Get into the (time) groove
Try and sleep during San Francisco night-time when traveling over so you can hop straight into the timezone with as little adjustment as possible. You’re going to need all of your energy to make the most of everything on offer, from amazing sessions with world-leading speakers, lots of networking opportunities with your peers and getting the best out of the parties! Stay hydrated on that flight, eat at San Francisco meal-times, whether you’re hungry or not, and you can soon nip that jet-lag in the bud. No matter how much you might want to, avoid those daytime naps – keep yourself busy to stay awake. Even better, see if you can travel out a day or two early and sample more of the delights that San Francisco has to offer.
2.) Do your research
There is so much going on that it can seem overwhelming. Do your research before you jump on the plane to know exactly what your ‘must-attends’ are. Keep a side list of your ‘nice-to-attends’ and use both to build your own personal schedule. The site is huge so remember to plan in time to get from place to place so you don’t miss your favourite sessions. Allow time to get around the city from where you are staying to the conference. The city explodes with the ‘Dreamforce population’ making it more packed than ever. And have fun! Enjoy the hustle and bustle and why not introduce yourself to some of your fellow conference attendees. Lanyards make them easy to spot. You never know who you might meet or what business opportunities may come of it. At the very least, you may find a friendly face to ‘hang out’ with if you’re traveling alone.
3.) Give as much as you take
Dreamforce has an even bigger focus around non-profits this year, joining forces with RED, started by Bono and Bobby Shriver to create awareness and fundraise to deliver the first AIDS-free generation. Look out for ways to get involved and help the conference achieve its goal to raise $1 million. There will be chances to participate in #DFGives charitable giving activities and observe kids coding, maker workshops and campus tours in action. Keep your eyes peeled for the daily themes which offer you the chance to get involved and give back. FinancialForce will also be donating $1 to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital for every tweet that includes the hashtag #SeeItDF16 and mentions @FinancialForce.
4.) Avoid the cram-packed case!
Pack carefully. Don’t forget your essentials but remember to leave room for information packs and giveaways you pick up at Dreamforce. You don’t want to end up paying for extra weight or baggage on your way home. Speaking of essentials. Remember to bring your favourite tea – it’s never quite the same over in the US. Coffee – yes, but tea – no! And another crucial thing to pack – comfortable shoes to get you all around the conference for days. You might be fine in your swanky best shoes for a few hours, but this will be a hardcore attack on the feet if they’re not comfy. I speak from personal experience when I say never bring a brand new pair of shoes – you’ll pay for it later as you limp around.
5.) Get ready to rock
It’s time to prepare to see some real legends with U2 taking the stage as Dreamforce headliners! There’s no other conference that gives you the chance to see real world-class headliners performing. Last year the band hosted a sell-out tour seen by over 1.2 million fans across Europe and North America. Don’t miss your chance to rock out with one of the best live acts in the world!
This will be the highlight of your business year so remember to get the most out of it, have fun and take it all in. See you there