The Definitive Wunderkind Dreamforce Survival Guide

Dreamforce can be amazing, but only if you're prepared

HI THERE. I’M TED HIRSCHEY, AND I’VE BEEN TO EVERY EVENT. EVER.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but not by much. I’ve been to so many conferences in my tenure in tech, and I’ve learned a lot of lessons on how to thrive at them the hard way. We’re only a couple weeks away from one of the craziest, busiest and best conferences of the year. But it’s also one of the hardest–especially if you’re going for the first time.

So I wrote this guide for you: here’s how to survive Dreamforce.

Dreamforce is the big-leagues of marketing events. It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you follow my advice, you can have a great time at Dreamforce and make the connections you need to change your business and career.

This is my Dreamforce Survival Guide.

WHAT TO BRING

Surviving Dreamforce is like surviving in any primitive wilderness. You need water. Lots of it. It is absolutely essential to stay hydrated. The biggest rookie move I see is people who pitch so hard and so vociferously that they lose the ability to speak less than a day in. Don’t be that person–because everyone else will be strong enough to pitch all the way to the end. My personal favorite is a Vitamin Water Zero first thing in the morning: water + B vitamins = win!

Speaking of which: don’t forget that Dreamforce is hosted ALL OVER the city. Dress in layers, and make sure all your layers are business-ready. There are at least 50 microclimates in San Francisco, and you can’t guarantee when you’ll have to make a big move or when the biggest opportunity of your life will pop up. That also means you better pack your most comfortable walking shoes and some snacks to keep you energized. Yes, this is starting to sound like summer camp, but you’ll be running all over and legitimately might forget to eat breakfast and/or lunch.

Perhaps most importantly though, and I cannot emphasize this enough, you need to remember your badge every single day. Are you a forgetful person? Set an alarm on your phone. If you think they’ll let you waltz in without a badge on, you’re sorely mistaken (security is everywhere) and you’ll find yourself wasting precious time and energy heading back to the hotel to get it.

WHAT TO LEAVE AT HOME

Here is the most important thing I’m going to tell you in this entire article: ditch your laptop. If you’re stationary enough that your laptop becomes relevant then you’ve already lost. Live and die on your phone, and make sure you’ve got at least one portable battery charger in your bag.

SOME MORE IMPERATIVE TIPS

1. Pace Yourself: This is just as much about getting a good amount of sleep as it is about not trying to do too much all at once. Dreamforce is a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t wear yourself out on day one and find yourself out of the race for the rest of the week.

2. Think About Your End Game: What are your goals here? Use those goals to determine what parties to attend, what lunches to go to and what sessions to hit. Thinking about what you’re hoping to achieve will help you weed through the millions of things to do. Speaking of which…

3. Use the Dreamforce Agenda Builder: There are hundreds of thousands of sessions at Dreamforce. Luckily, they offer Agenda Builder to help you organize, and seriously, take it from someone who once went to Dreamforce without utilizing Salesforce’s amazing conference organization tool: you will be lost, overwhelmed and stuck outside already-full events if you don’t plan your life with this tool.

4. Network Outside Your Network: If you really want to meet new people and network, don’t just talk to your coworkers. Branch out. Try to open with something more interesting than “How ‘bout this weather?” Ask them how the show is going or a more memorable, personal question, and remember that they’re feeling awkward, too.

5. Always Go To The Keynotes: First of all, these keynotes are usually incredible with the best and brightest speakers in the industry. Plus, I’d be lying by omission if I didn’t tell you that there are always some amazing, super famous musical guests, too.

6. Have Some Fun: Dreamforce can be a stressful week, so be sure to let loose a bit. Hit up all the parties you can. Grab some free swag. Meet interesting people. Look, Dreamforce is a great way to make massive business moves, but it can also be really fun if you actually take advantage of all the things there are to do. So, I’ll see you at the Metallica concert. Be sure to look out for me in a branded Wunderkind party hat. Stop by our booth to grab one for yourself, too.

Now, look, I hope I haven’t scared you with these tips. Dreamforce is amazing. But you need to be prepared, and I hope some of my well-learned wisdom will hope you make the most out of the 2018 conference.

While you’re there, make sure you stop by my booth, and I’ll gladly hit you up with advice and war stories. Otherwise MAKE SURE you’re getting to our DIY ramen class or the cocktail party at Novela. They just might make the difference between a good Dreamforce experience and a great one. See you in S.F.!

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Ted Hirschey

Ted Hirschey is the head of Strategic Alliances at Wunderkind. He’s a Salesforce (and Dreamforce) guru. He knows his way around MarTech like no one else in the industry.