With Dreamforce 2015 on the horizon, many of us are gearing up for the trip. And while getting those business cards printed, suits pressed and flights booked are all important, we thought we’d break down some of the real-life situations everyone ought to be prepared for.
1. Keep in mind the company you’ll keep.
Many businesses will book Dreamforce flights for employees at the same time. This means you could end up sitting next to anyone— including your company’s head honcho. If the situation occurs:
- Make sure your conversation is on point so you can contribute more than the occasional “Iknowright?”
- If you fall into the category of snorer, drooler, or head-leaner, for the love of all that is sacred STAY AWAKE.
- It’s probably best to leave your racy romance novel about Moroccan nights in your carry-on.
2. Overconfidence in your shoe comfort=DANGER.
Male or female, a comfortable shoe at Dreamforce should be number one on your list. Even if you’re a usual superstar in your stilettos, Dreamforce is another ball game. Not only will you be booking it to sessions and events, but you’ll have little time to sit, and your days could last a solid 8 hours longer than they usually do.
3. Someone get me the heck out of here.
There will be over 150,000 attendees at Dreamforce this year. It’s OK to admit that you may meet a few you really can’t stand to be around. While networking is about putting on your best face, if you truly feel you need to remove yourself, have an exit strategy. Line up a signal with coworkers ahead of time in case any of you need saving. Or, if you find yourself deserted, harness your passive aggressiveness with apps like this that get you out of awkward situations.
4. Act natural.
As you network, odds are you’ll find yourself in a room where you know no one. If nervousness gets the best of you, consider trying to look casual. Some things to try:
- Grab a cookie. (Or eight cookies.)
- Grab a cup of coffee, but only if it comes sans saucer, unless you want everyone to hear how badly your hands are shaking.
5. Slay small-talk like a pro.
Own the Dreamforce small-talk game with a few simple tricks. Keep questions open ended. If you ask only “Yes,” or “No,” questions, you’ll find the door to your conversation closing quickly.
Be sure when you ask typical trade show questions—“What do you do?”—that you follow up with secondary questions to get the person talking. “So how did you get into that line of business?”
If your companion begins talking about an area in which you have no expertise, be honest. Say you’re unfamiliar with the subject, and ask them to elaborate. People appreciate honesty (and can tell when you’re lying), and you’ll really get the conversation going.
6. But remember, too much yapping makes your listener yawn.
One of the best pieces of advice for Dreamforce— or rather, all trade shows and life in general—is to talk less and listen more. Remember that people like to talk about themselves. Dial back your inner Chatty Kathy and let them dominate the conversation. They’ll leave thinking they made a real connection, which is what you’re at Dreamforce to do.
7. So many sessions, so little time.
There’s also over 1,500 different sessions at Dreamforce. Talk about information overload! Don’t make yourself crazy trying to cram in too much. This isn’t the first day of college, and no one is going to tattle on you for skipping a session, especially if you’re talking to potential clients. Don’t forget the dire necessity of coffee and bathroom breaks.
8. Pick your parties wisely.
There’s a reason one of Dreamforce’s taglines this year is, “Come for the inspiration, stay for the fun.” People have fun at Dreaforce, and lots of it. But before you go completely nuts, consider your strategy. Do you have to be up and on your A-game at 5am? Perhaps you shouldn’t rage till the wee hours on the first two nights if you’ve got a networking party to attend on the third.
9. Have fun, but keep it real.
This is Dreamforce, and when else will you get The Foo Fighters, Goldie Hawn, Jessica Alba, Satya Nadella, Susan Wojcicki (and many, many more) in one venue? So have fun, but bear in mind: you’re still at a business event. Your company is spending a pretty penny to get you to Dreamforce, and it’s up to you to ensure their money is spent wisely.
Have any tips to add for Dreamforce newbies and veterans alike? Let us know! And be sure to visit us at booths N1036 and N2001 come game time.