With Dreamforce 2017 right around the corner, here are my top lessons learned to get the most from your week.
1.) Prepare for a week of urban hiking
Unless you’ve recently returned from a tour of the Himalayas, prepare to smash your weekly steps record by a large margin. Forget the business suit and dress shoes and pack as if you are heading out for a week in the wilderness: walking shoes, backpack, water bottles, and energy snacks highly recommended. Take Lyft/Uber/taxis only if you need to nap because they’re going nowhere fast. If your smartwatch has been neglected recently, then now is the time to power it up, apply all those ignored software updates, and get ready to strap it on for the week. The killer app is turn-by-turn walking directions on your wrist. Navigate the many event locations with your eyes on the sidewalk and your phone in your pocket. You’ll need that phone power to keep your social feeds updated throughout the day.
2.) Know how to work the expo floor
You’re destined to have great conversations at the expo and DevZone—but time is precious—so use these two questions to your advantage.
With vendors in the main expo: “What’s your favorite feature to demo?” Slowly back away if they can’t name one: you’ve either got a rookie or a hired “booth jockey” (yes, some vendors use hired greeters purely as professional badge scanners).
At the developer conference: “What’s the last trailhead badge you earned?” Again, blank looks tell you to move on but more likely you will get folks talking about their favorite hot topic.
By the way, do find time to visit the Dev Zone. The scale will amaze you. It has its own expo “campground,” where presentations are shorter than regular Dreamforce sessions. Plus, developers always seem to have the coolest toys to play with.
3.) Going to the keynotes? Get there early!
Keynotes are live streamed nowadays but still highly recommended for first-timers as they are exciting events to experience firsthand. Maybe obvious but it’s worth restating: get there early not only to find a good seat but also to watch the pre-show interviews.
4.) Great concerts happen day and night
Don’t wait for the gala concerts to enjoy some good tunes; there’s great music to be heard throughout the week! Honorable mention here for the excellent Blondie set at rainy AT&T Park in 2013, but my most favorite Dreamforce musical moment was a lunchtime concert by Huey Lewis & The News on Howard Street.
5.) Save your energy for the best party
If you have sessions or briefings to attend the following morning, then work on your quiet, early departure routine (this maneuver is also known as the vanishing Roberts act). My top party recommendation is Revive on the final morning at Fogo de Chão. It’s peaceful, you’ll get the chance to reflect on the week, and the cocktails hit the spot.
Bonus tip for first-time press and analysts
Be sure to include thermal layering options in your urban hiking kitbag. It may be sunny outside but the interview rooms deep in the murky caves of Moscone are bone-chillingly cold. You’ve been warned!