Ed.Note: This blog post is excerpted from an ebook entitled The Guide to Networking at Dreamforce 2014, published by Ringlead Inc. and WinGreen Marketing Systems, authored by T.M. Hawley, edited by Amanda Nelson, and designed by Allyson Johnson. The original ebook is a free download for Salesforce, Sales, and Marketing professionals and may be requested at http://goo.gl/MYeK74
Heading to Dreamforce in 2014? You’ve probably been attending trade shows and conferences for years. So you no doubt are well aware of what great networking opportunities these events are. Conferences such as Dreamforce, salesforce.com’s user conference and the largest cloud computing conference in the world, give you an exceptional chance to become a known quantity to your peers. What you might not be so aware of, however, is the degree to which technology has changed the way that you can take advantage of the networking opportunities available at Dreamforce and similar conventions.
Agenda Builder: Plan Dreamforce Like a Pro
You will get more value out of your time at the conference if you plan it before arriving. That is why Dreamforce developed the Agenda Builder. With more than 1,400 sessions to choose from, you really do need a tool like the Agenda Builder to make sure that you get to the ones you’re most interested in.
The Agenda Builder is easy to use, but you will get the most out of it if you follow a sequence of steps.
- Enroll in your must-attend events first. Use the tool’s filters to narrow down your session selections to a number where reading the details of each is reasonable. Bookmark everything you find interesting. Tip: If you’re attending with a coworker, you’ll each get more out of the conference if you don’t attend the same sessions. That way, you can each fill the other in on what you saw and heard.
- Use the search function to find sessions in your areas of interest. Book your sessions with the “My Sessions” function.
- Share your agenda with others to get the benefit of multiple perspectives on what might be most valuable for you.
- And use the Dreamforce app to follow the sessions you’re attending or have bookmarked.
Meet Everyone You Can
From customers and partners to friends and colleagues, you probably have a list, even if it’s only a mental list, of individuals you want to meet at Dreamforce.
To really take advantage of your networking opportunities, you need to be open to meeting new people. Whether they are working in booths, sitting next to you at a session, or enjoying a party that you are attending, talking with strangers is definitely encouraged here. Getting to know people you had not planned on meeting can often lead to your best business opportunities.
Of course, to keep track of all the people you will be meeting, you should bring hundreds of business cards, and exchange cards with everyone you meet. With so many introductions, however, it could be difficult to remember the face when you look at the card a few days later. To avoid that, make a point of writing a note about each person on the back of his or her card. That can personalize the experience even more, and maybe even give you a hint on how to approach the person in your next call or email.
See Everything You Can
The best way to connect with the greatest number of people at Dreamforce is to keep moving. Don’t limit your time to only booths, speeches, or sessions. Get your workout in by walking through both expos, and talk to as many vendors as you can.
Attend all the major keynote speeches. They are your best opportunity to learn where the industry is headed and how you can give yourself and your company the best chance to profit by the changes ahead.
Sessions, by contrast, are great for gaining privileged insights into the latest Salesforce advancements. Plus, their smaller settings allow you to get up close and personal with Salesforce experts and peers with common interests. Sessions are often spread out across the Dreamforce campus, so don’t push yourself too hard. Try to attend two sessions and one keynote per day. This will allow you to get to your sessions on time. Keep this in mind when working in Agenda Builder as well.
While moving around and interacting with others at Dreamforce is a big part of getting the most out of the conference, take time each day to digest what you have absorbed. In your downtime between sessions and keynotes, make it a point to debrief yourself, take notes on what you’ve found to be significant, and organize your thoughts about how to make the most of the experience.
Create Content to Stand Out From the Crowd
So much for making the most of Dreamforce’s networking opportunities in a traditional way. Technology has enabled you to move your efforts to the next level. Two words: create content.
Use the notes you took as a basis for blog posts, tweets, and status updates on social media using the event hashtag, #DF14. Doing so will get your name out there so you will remain a stronger presence to those whom you meet at the conference. Publishing your observations and opinions on the conference through social media demonstrates your interest in the events you attended and the trends they are part of. It also shows confidence in yourself and an interest in being part of the conversation.
If you can make the time for it, try to live blog the conference. Your chances of advancing in your job and career depend to a considerable extent on the groups you belong to. Publishing on social media gives you the opportunity to have those groups form around you, whether you are the most outspoken member or not. If you have a long plane ride home, take advantage of that opportunity to create longer content. Include photos/video/audio you took during Dreamforce, and build a narrative around it. It’s all about engaging as much as possible with your peers.
Follow up with Your New Connections Immediately
Your Dreamforce networking tasks won’t end when the conference concludes. Get in touch with as many of the contacts you made as early in the week of October 20 as possible.
Salesforce can be a particularly efficient tool for organizing and delivering this correspondence. People will have been energized by the conference, so reaching out to them while their excitement is still strong will make your connection all the more sticky. Dreamforce is all about using technology to move your business forward. Your network will always be one of your greatest resources. So using technology to grow and strengthen your network brings it all together.
Dreamforce has brought together a fantastic group of speakers and vendors for this year’s conference. Keynotes speakers whose ideas are changing the world will give you a high-level view of today’s and tomorrow’s business world, while vendors and session presenters will drill down to help you get the most out of Salesforce tools in the years ahead. Using technology to plan your conference and capitalize on the networking opportunities it provides will put you in the best position to grow your career and business.
If your company is looking for ways to enhance the value of your Salesforce implementation, improve usage and adoption by your sales team, or customize Salesforce for your specific needs, contact WinGreen Marketing Systems for assistance. Visit www.wingreenmarketing.com/marketing-automation to learn how WinGreen can help you maximize your ROI from CRM, marketing automation, email marketing, and Google Adwords administration.