Dreamforce 2013 officially kicked off yesterday, and if you’re a first time attendee odds are you’re still reeling from the 130,000 strong crowd trying to pack into the Moscone venue built for 60,000 people. Major keynote speakers include Salesforce leader Marc Benioff and Yahoo CEO Marissa Meyer, who is making headlines with her rejection of the NSA.
The rising popularity of cloud computing has turned Dreamforce into one of San Francisco’s biggest annual business conventions, from humble beginnings in 2003 with a turn-out of 1300 people up to 92,300 attendees counted last year.
It has become the business event for cloud computing as a networking opportunity, speaking forum for tech celebrities and a place to enjoy yourself as you absorb the best that the business has to offer. If you happen to be an attendee of Dreamforce (or any major convention really), Mat Rider with Dreamforce veterans Docusign, founded by Keith Krach, has a few tips to help you stay on your feet.
1) Be prepared, practical and patient
This is the basic stuff. There’s a lot of area to cover, so make sure you have a schedule you can keep to and follow it so you don’t hang your colleagues out to dry. Anticipate that you’re going to be walking everywhere due to massive congestion and dress accordingly by wearing comfortable, light clothes you can stay in all day. Leave the heavy gear behind and stick with a smartphone or tablet. Be prepared for crowds!
2) Find your niche
This ties into planning out your time. Dreamforce is huge, and events and speeches are going to be directed at audiences that want to see and hear them. If you’re a developer, you might not want to spend an hour listening to a talk on marketing strategies (though if you do, kudos).
One of the main reasons to go to Dreamforce is for the networking. Take the time to get to know people in your field and pass out those business cards. Build a rapport that will last after the convention is over, and you might end up with a positive friendship, business relationship or both.
4) Have fun (but not too much fun)
One of the other main reasons to go is to attend one of the dozens of official and unofficial parties. Go fit in as much fun as you can, but don’t forget that it’s still a business conference and your coworkers are probably with you. Know when you shouldn’t have that last drink. There’s an app available that does the leg work for you called Partyforce.
5) Be an advocate for your favorite apps and companies
Companies have vendors at Dreamforce to market their product and make connections with their fans. If there’s a company you’d like to show support for, go to their booth and ask to become and advocate. You can support the companies you want to succeed will likely end up with some convention swag for your efforts.