Today’s guest post is by Katherine Krieger
I am an unabashed podcast geek.
I produce a podcast and listen to about 16 others each week.
So when I was invited to Dreamforce and realized I would get a chance to hear both speak live, I was over the moon.
Then I realized San Francisco was expecting an influx of nearly 100,000 attendees for the conference. ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND!
How many attendees do the conferences you typically attend have? Even 10,000 seems like a large number to me.
That number was intimidating. To help make it more manageable, I reached out to Gini Dietrich beforehand to see if she knew anyone who was going – and this brings me to the first of four must attend reasons.
Yes, even in a crowd that large, the networking opportunities are fantastic. Why? The community aspect. I mean we all read Spin Sucks for the amazing content (yep, brown nosing), but why else do we read? The community that comes alive in the commenting!
The same thing happened at Dreamforce. Salesforce had set up a Chatter community specific to Dreamforce. Within Chatter, there were numerous communities, including one for each of the 850 sessions, for attendees to ask questions, for speakers to post their presentations, and other communities, such as a wonderful group called Flyin’ Solo, set up for solo conference attendees to connect with one another.
Through the group I met other marketers such as Ken Hu of Soshio, Devon Carlson of Magellan Diagnostics, Jennifer Good of Access Intelligence, and Ann Freccero of Jaspersoft. I directly communicated with Christopher Penn and Mitch Joel (nerd swoon!), both of whom were extremely welcoming and encouraged me to introduce myself after their sessions.
This experience was a key differentiator. Everyone was willing to share their experiences and pain points. It was an incredible learning experience.
You may think that the whole conference is one big product shill for Salesforce, but that is not the case. Do people talk about Salesforce solutions? Sure, especially in keynotes, but my I RECEIVED A TON OF advice and tips on marketing and social media. It was NOT a “use this Salesforce solution.”
For me, Dreamforce was Christopher Penn sharing the real ROI formula for social media that includes the hours of time you put in and how to weigh your audience, leads, and customers into the model.
It was Mitch Joel talking about how personalization is being confused with privacy, and that marketers’ biggest challenge is to educate consumers on how we are collecting their data and how exactly we are going to use it.
It was Dan Zarella giving deep statistical insights into what kind of content to produce and when to release it.
It was Richard Branson discussing everything from how he built his companies to his thoughts on the drug problem and how best to deal with the Middle East.
It was Tony Robbins reminding the attendees that we should have no logical reason to laugh or experience joy, we should just do it and not care what anyone thinks.
My third key reason has slightly answered itself already, but as a marketer you hear Dreamforce, Salesforce, or Cloud Computing Event of the Year and you think, why would I attend? I’m a marketing gal (or guy). There were more than 850 sessions that followed a sales track, a marketing track, a developer track, nonprofit and higher ed track, healthcare track, and I am sure one or two I am forgetting. The bottom line is there is rich, memorable, and applicable content for you and for your business.
I’m going to have a little fun with my fourth reason and call it the surprise and delights. Granted, with 100,000 attendees this was critical, but I’ve never been to a conference or event where the staffing was so numerous and helpful. Lovely folks in Salesforce shirts and bowler hats were present on every corner between my hotel, throughout the entire spread of Moscone, and in all the downtown hotels, and they asked with a smile if I needed help.
Was it cheesy? Sure, a little bit. But they knew their stuff and answered all my questions. Another surprise and delight? The surreal moment when 1990-91 returned and MC Hammer performed at the beginning of Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff’s keynote. MC Hammer! The hilarity of those moments almost made the trip for me.
I can’t recommend Dreamforce more strongly. I hope to see you there next year!
Kat Krieger is the director of marketing for Brand Connections, an independent global marketing and media company. She is responsible for internal and external communications and produces the Brand Fast-Trackers podcast. Kat lives in Brooklyn with her husband Ben and their 2 daughters, Marcella and Amadea.