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Everyone in the Salesforce community looks forward to Dreamforce every year. As a Salesforce professional, this is THE event for networking with fellow Trailblazers, learning about the latest Salesforce apps and updates on the market, and accelerating your business and professional growth.

If you are an admin or developer going to Dreamforce, you need a game plan in order to make use of your time as efficiently as possible. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with so many things to do. To get the most out of Dreamforce, you need to:
1. Prepare ahead of time
2. Stay focused on your goals
3. Have an action plan

Prepare Ahead of Time Before Dreamforce

Perform your due diligence now. What do you want to get out of Dreamforce? As you create your pre-Dreamforce plan, be sure to rank each item into three tiers: 1) Top Priority, 2) Middle Priority, and 3) Lower Priority.

1. Identify your current business challenges. Set up a meeting with your boss and other Salesforce stakeholders to discuss the company’s goals for the next six to 12 months. Dreamforce is teeming with some of the most ingenious, powerful business solutions on the market, many of which can help your company solve the challenges they are currently facing. Plus, there are thousands of sessions that can help you improve your admin and developer skills, which could also help your company grow.

2. Determine if there is a Salesforce feature or AppExchange app you want to learn more about. The freshest Salesforce updates and top applications will be showcased at Dreamforce and this will be your chance to ask questions and get a firsthand look at them. Research the sponsors who will be in the Customer Success Expo and decide which ones you would like to seek out at Dreamforce for more information or a live demo.

3. Decide which Salesforce certifications to investigate. Dreamforce is the place for professional development. Take some time now to learn about the requirements necessary to complete the certifications that interest you and start mapping out your career path within the Salesforce ecosystem. Also, Salesforce is hosting a pre-conference boot camp to be delivered by expert Trailhead instructors. It begins Saturday, September 22nd and ends Monday, September 24th and over these three days, you will receive in-depth knowledge about a variety of roles within the Salesforce ecosystem such as a Salesforce Admin, Developer, or Architect and what certifications you will need to secure in order to become certified in these positions.

4. Bookmark Dreamforce sessions. Go into the Session Agenda Builder now and make note of any sessions you might want to attend. There are over 2,300 sessions occurring during Dreamforce, so now is the time to narrow down the ones you would like to attend and start building an itinerary. I always like to attend the admin and Trailhead keynotes as both are valuable for networking with other professionals in the Salesforce community.

5. Pre-networking with Trailblazers. Leading up to Dreamforce, it is a good idea to attend some user group meetings to discuss all things Dreamforce. Also, begin connecting with other Dreamforce attendees from your area ahead of time.

6. Survey a party list. The social gatherings after each conference day are many and it can become difficult to choose between dozens of happy hours and parties on the fly. Take a look at an updated party list and pick out the social events that interest you the most.

7. Scope out the limited-edition SWAG. Salesforce typically hands out limited-edition plush dolls of their mascots, like Appy or Astro, in addition to exclusive event apparel, backpacks, and much more. In general, exhibitors are also known to bring top-tier swag items to give away to attendees. OwnBackup will be giving away exclusive Appy T-Shirts, Nespresso coffee machines, and a special grand prize for one lucky booth #1204 visitor.

Stay Focused on Your Goals During Dreamforce

After getting well-prepared ahead of time, here is what you can do during Dreamforce to maximize your experience.

1. Follow your itinerary but be flexible if better opportunities come along. As planned, go to sessions, learn about new Salesforce features, and find out more about available AppExchange apps. If there is a session you really want to see, plan to get there early 15 minutes before it starts. Try not to worry too much if it is not physically possible to do everything you planned due to locations or timing. Aim to do all of the top-priority activities in your plan.

2. Take notes. A considerable amount of valuable information is presented and showcased at this event. Jot down the main takeaways of a session or a specific feature or app that stood out to you. Doing this will help you remember everything you learned and any action items for once you get back.

3. Plan action items as you go. Why wait until you get back to the office to start planning your business improvement recommendations. Begin formulating a plan with the information you have gathered from each session, new Salesforce features, and new AppExchange apps you have learned about.

4. Network. Network. Network. A hallmark of Dreamforce is its ability to assemble a diverse group of people under one roof and this creates the perfect scenario to mingle and get to know your fellow Trailblazers. Strike up a conversation while waiting in line for the bathroom. Or, sit next to someone new during lunch. Introduce yourself. Be friendly. You could meet someone with similar interests or it could be the start of a fruitful business relationship.

5. Connect on social media. Get on Twitter to share your experiences in real-time via relevant hashtags such as #DF18 and #APPYNESS. Engage online with people you know and new people you want to meet in person. Try writing your Twitter handle onto your badge so people you meet can mention or message you directly. It also makes it easier for people to include you in conversations on Twitter or tag you in group photos.

6. Stay focused, but remember to give yourself downtime. Dreamforce requires a significant amount of energy. Take some time to reset both mentally and physically. If logistically possible, head back to your hotel for a bit or grab a coffee at a local shop to recharge. This little recess will give you the energy boost necessary to carry on.

7. Bear in mind conference logistics. Dreamforce is hosted at the Moscone Center, as well as numerous hotels and outdoor locations throughout San Francisco. The center itself is more than 2 million square feet of building area with its conference expo floor being approximately 700,000 square feet. You could potentially have to walk from one end of the conference to the other in order to attend a session. You may even have to leave the Moscone center altogether and walk to a session located in a hotel meeting room. For the more popular sessions, try to arrive 10-15 minutes early and take into account how far it is, and how you will get there.

Have an Action Plan After Dreamforce

After you catch up on sleep and get your foot massage, be ready for action when you get back to the office.

Take some time to develop an action plan around your pre-Dreamforce areas of focus. All those things you took notes on and learned about should now be placed within a format that allows you to present these findings clearly and completely to your organization’s Salesforce decision maker(s). Assuming there are some development action items that result from these meetings, set up some time with your team to start executing these Salesforce optimizations or installations.

Aside from action items that involve your organization directly, touch base with the contacts you made during Dreamforce. Add them on social media channels if you have not done so already, and join local Salesforce user groups as well. These contacts may prove invaluable over the span of your career so begin developing those relationships as soon as you can.

It is important to consider that for your entire Dreamforce experience to be as fruitful and unforgettable as you would like, you must first prepare ahead of time, stay focused on your pre-Dreamforce plan during the event, and make sure to execute your post-event action items swiftly. Follow this recipe to get the most out of Dreamforce.