It’s that time of the year again! Dreamforce 2019 is less than a month away.
Whether you’re a Dreamforce veteran or it’s your first time, all Trailblazers can agree. Attending Dreamforce is an overwhelming experience. With more than 170,000 attendees from over 103 countries, it’s the perfect occasion to make new friends. And do some business too!
Here’s our take on how to get the most out of networking at Dreamforce. All based on our own experiences from over the years. Make sure to read till the end for our secret pro-tip!
Everyone has their own agenda
There’s a double meaning to this claim for good reason. Dreamforce attendees all have their own goals and aspirations for the event days. But they also have a literal agenda planned for how they will be spending their time. With 50+ keynotes spread over 3 days, you can forget intercepting people for ad-hoc networking. They’re too busy struggling to stick to their agenda.
So don’t count on catching people between sessions, unless you have pre-arranged a meeting. Focus on meeting people during their down-time.
Now when would that be?
Everyone has to eat. Luckily Dreamforce is providing free lunch meals to Full Conference attendees. So swing by Dreamforest or Yerba Buena Gardens, and join a table of fellow Trailblazers.
Each of them is taking a moment to relax, eat and discuss the day with others. And who knows! They might be representing a company which is relevant to your business.
In the Lounges
Many Dreamforce Sponsors are setting up their own branded lounge. These lounges are a welcome sight for the weary (or hungover) Dreamforce attendees. It gives them a chance to chill out on a sofa, connect to wifi and recharge.
Settling down and having a relaxed conversation can go a long way. We’ve actually closed some deals in Lounges! So go ahead and chill out.
Note: While many lounges are free to access, they might require prior registration.
At the Parties
There were over 150 parties at Dreamforce 2018 and you can count on 2019 to host even more. Parties are a big part of the Dreamforce experience, so we’ll go into a bit more detail on how to get the most out of these.
How to find parties
Luckily this is made very easy. Plenty of companies are compiling lists of all the parties taking place during Dreamforce. Whichever list you decide to use is up to you, but you get started with a Google search for “Dreamforce Parties”
Which parties to go to
You should be attending as many as possible, but you do need a strategy. Make sure you have covered the following on your checklist.
Some parties focus on attracting attendees from a particular region of the world. If you have focus markets, make sure you have scoped out these parties and registered to these first.
For example, we always make an effort to attend the Nordic Networking Reception. We find many existing and potential new customers here.
Sponsor Parties with Target Group Overlap
This one will need some research, but is well worth it! Go through all the sponsored events, and check who is organizing it. Then take a look at their website and take note of any client logos.
If you find that you and the organizer have a similar business target group, you should sign up. Many of their existing clients and prospects will be there for you to meet.
Once you’ve filled up your schedule with as many of these strategic parties as possible, it’s time to go all in on the rest. Scope out a bunch of parties which take place in the timeslots you still have available, and sign up for all of them.
Why, you ask?
While you won’t be able to attend 5 parties at the same time, it’s good to have options. Some parties have crazy long lines, or you won’t be able to enter despite registering. When that happens, you have another party to be at.
Keep in mind: You can make many new friends while waiting in line.
How to get in to Parties
First of all, you’ll have a hard time getting into any party without a conference badge. So if you’re not actually attending Dreamforce, your chances of attending a party are very slim.
Sign up as early as possible
Make sure you find and sign up to relevant parties as soon and early as possible. Many of them have limited access. And even signing up early doesn’t always guarantee you a ticket on the party train.
Utilize your network
While many parties welcome all and everyone, some parties are more ‘exclusive’. Attending these requires an official invitation.
Check your professional network for any connections inside the sponsoring organization. We’ve often asked for the details of the organizer and introduced ourselves. One good conversation later you might find yourself on the invitation list.
Talk to the team
If you don’t know anyone in the sponsoring organization, then it’s about time you did! Almost all sponsors are wearing branded apparel, so they should be easy to recognize. Besides making a new friend, you might get lucky and be invited to their party.
With all that partying, make sure to rest and drink some water every now and then. You’ll need your energy the next day as well!
And finally: our personal number 1 location for meeting new people during Dreamforce is:
Right next to Moscone South is the ThirstyBear Brewing Company. Besides being “San Francisco’s first and only certified organic craft brewery”, it’s also a favorite bar of many Trailblazers. We’ve met new people, created new business and enjoyed some very good beers under ThirstyBear’s roof. 2019 will be no different.
We’re looking forward to seeing you at Dreamforce! While we won’t be bringing “the world’s largest cell phone on an ice-cream tricycle” this year, you’ll recognize us from our Zero Keyboard jerseys. You should come and meet us, so you can get that stack of business cards scanned in no time!