Navigating Dreamforce as a Newbie

Read through the first impressions, thoughts and recommendations from a Dreamforce newbie, keep the checklist handy for the next year.

TL;DR: Dreamforce was a great source of motivation though sessions were less technical than I expected and your feet will die if you don’t bring comfortable shoes.

It’s safe to say that whatever I expected of Dreamforce, this event has surprised me in every way. I have been working with Salesforce for almost 7 years now — 2 years as a Salesforce user and nearly 5 years as a Salesforce consultant. I already attended some of the European events such as the World Tour in London, Base Camp in Prague or (my favourite) Czechdreamin so I thought I had a good idea what Dreamforce will look like… but oh boy, was I wrong.

I didn’t expect to enter a Disneyland world where in addition to attending presentations about new Salesforce products, you also get to hear Lenny Kravitz singing live in the morning and in the afternoon, end up chilling next to a DJ beneath waterfalls and see a 6-metres tall rock statue of a bear in the centre of San Francisco. Actually, this event might have been even better than Disneyland since the sugar was supplemented for free!. Don’t get me started about the RedHotChilliPeppers concert, that was seriously dope.

TL;DR: Dreamforce ’22 rocked🤘

Overall, I enjoyed Dreamforce way more than I imagined I would, however there were definitely things I wish I knew upfront. Looking back, I consider Dreamforce ’22 as my trial run and next year I will come better prepared. Here is a short summary of my experience:

What did I enjoy most?

Dreamforce was very inspiring to me. I (re)discovered my Salesforce drive to explore new features & products as well as to start working toward the ever postponed certifications & superbadges.

My favourite session was True to the Core panel. It can be described as an ‘ask me anything’ to Salesforce execs and product managers and I enjoyed feeling the strong community vibe working together towards a better platform. I recommend this session to every DF newbie.

My favourite booth was L’Oreal Customer Success Experience as it presented the YSL Rouge sur Mesure by Perso product. You basically configure your shade through an app and it will show an instant look on the screen of your phone/tablet. Then the YSL device prints the colour that you blend to create the desired colour and apply. Pretty cool, am I right?!

Networking is easy! I am generally not very good at networking with strangers and I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Here, it came very naturally and I enjoyed talking to like-minded people.

It is also important to acknowledge that I drank the Kool-Aid (I realise I shouldn’t use this phrase anymore but if the shoe fits…). Hearing Marc Benioff talk about future visions, I got the idea that one day soon enough, I will wake up and Salesforce will brush my teeth, pick out my clothes along with telling me how I feel predicting my mood for the day. It was scary, but kind of amazing at the same time.

What could be better (from my perspective)?

Sessions agenda was released only a couple of days before the event and since there were over 1,200 sessions to choose from, planning was tough and last-minute. I wish Salesforce gave me more time to prepare. I personally recommend reading up about the types of sessions before-hand, I had no idea what for i.e. ‘Birds of a feather’ session meant (there were no explanations in the app) and this way I could filter more easily.

First day was quite overwhelming for me and I often ended up going in the wrong direction. Main buildings were called Moscone West, Moscone North and Moscone South and if you end up in the wrong building, it can delay you for about 15 mins with all the security checks. I really believe this won’t be an issue next time though I wished I had the campus map upfront.

DF offered an unlimited number of free certifications this year. That was great news until I realised I’d miss too many sessions by actually attending the exams. I signed-up just for one exam and next time I will definitely try to take it the day before Dreamforce starts as it cost me half a day in the middle of the event.

Sessions were too much sales, not enough technical. I remember being a bit sad when I attended a session ‘Did you know that CPQ could do that?’ expecting this presentation to offer me new insights on how to use existing features and it ended up presenting only about the new product release and why you should buy Revenue Cloud. I expected DF to be mainly a sales event but I was still surprised by the lack of technical sessions (there is a possibility I missed or overlooked some).

Speaking of Revenue Cloud, this was actually the biggest disappointment. There were stands and booths for all Salesforce products but Revenue Cloud and there was not a single expert on the floor that I could reach out to regarding specific Revenue questions such as licensing or future packaging. Honestly, it felt like SF Revenue Cloud experts were hiding from the crowd because every single session concerning either CPQ or Billing was completely packed and I wasn’t the only one hunting for answers.

Tips & tricks for other newbies
  1. Bring comfortable shoes — running between buildings can add up to some serious exercise and I had an average of 25,000 steps per day

  2. Wear layers — hot, cold, rainy, super hot. Temperature changes fast plus some session rooms have crazy AC so come prepared.

  3. Try to find a hotel close to the event (this point is obvious but I still find it important enough to mention) — walking distance to the event gives you a time advantage and saves you a lot of money.

  4. Allow yourself some free time between presentations — I didn’t schedule my agenda with back-to-back sessions as I realised that I need time for transfer and I also wanted to spend some time in the Trailblazer Forrest to look at all the demos of various products. For example, I didn’t have a chance to work with Customer Data Platform directly so this was my first chance to look at how it looks in ‘real-life’.

  5. Skip key notes if they interfere with some other cool sessions or workshops — key notes are one of the few recorded sessions, you can just watch them later.

  6. Least but not last, let down your hair & enjoy yourself — it is a work event like no other!

Written by Michaela Tomaskova, follow Michaela on LinkedIn.

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