Dreamforce is the annual Salesforce.com event taking place next week at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. It's one of those giant events with more tracks than you could ever attend. There will be more vendors than you could ever learn about in two days. You need bearings for this one.
There will be lots of news but the undercurrent is often where the most valuable information flows. Here are some thoughts we'd like to share to help you get the most out of Dreamforce or any other event that you attend.
1. Pre-event research. Our own Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote a great post about covering the Techonomy conference earlier this year. Marshall used Mechanical Turk to learn more about attendees. He found the most relevant sources that related to the event and created a custom search engine. He has a number of good insights into creating a workflow for covering an event.
2. Research - the simple version. Set up a number of automatic searches through Twitter. There are the obvious ones to follow such as #df10, #dreamforce and #salesforce.com. But what is it you really want to follow? Create a series of custom searches to get your head around what the vibe is for the event.
3. Talk to a reporter or analyst. We don't bite. Say hello at the conference. We are responsible for knowing the pulse of what is happening. Plus, we will remember you if you ever approach us for coverage.
4. Write a blog post. Write down what you want to get out of the conference. Writing always helps give us a feeling for what to expect from an event like Dreamforce. You'll find yourself researching, finding little bits of news that are of interest to you and your work. It gets even better when you share what you've learned on your blog. You'll be surprised what connections you make.
5. Go to a news conference. Try to get into an event where executives are presenting to the media and analysts. You'll see reporters from The Wall Street Journal and bloggers like Klint Finley and me. You will get a perspective from executives that you would not get otherwise.
Some suggestions from Paul Young:
6. Mingle. Even if you're an introvert and still live in your mother's basement, force yourself to meet and greet. This is the premier networking event of the year. Use it.
7. Set priorities. Make a list of the vendors you most want to see -- and the questions you want to ask them -- before you get to Dreamforce. Once the wall of noise and people hits you, your cognitive ability will fall off a cliff.
8. Play exhibitor lotto. Enter every contest you can. The number of prizes is staggering. This is your chance to win some serious loot.
9. Go to the keynotes. That's where they always announce amazing things and that's part of the whole Dreamforce gestalt. Just remember to use the restroom first - it can take longer than you imagine to get through the mass of humanity after each keynote ends. Trust me on this one.
10. Be friendly and smile. It's going to be LOUD and crowded and tiring -- but be nice to everyone. That includes VPs, security guards, vendors, other attendees, and the people you see in restaurants and on the town. This is San Francisco. Enjoy yourself.
And as Young says, have fun and stop me for a business card!