One of the world’s largest conferences takes place every Fall in downtown San Francisco. Salesforce gathers together customers, suppliers, experts and icons for four days of learning, fun and inspiration called Dreamforce. This year, I was one of the 170,000 people who attended the experience, which delivered valuable insights:
- Follow The Advice of Those You Trust – The thought of 170,000 people at one conference made me feel faint. Large crowds are not in my comfort zone. In addition, being away from home for five days with networking being my sole focus … again, well outside my comfort zone. But Greg Poirier, CEO of CloudKettle, was adamant that I needed to attend. “Your clients will be there. You have to show up,” is what he said. I trust Greg and my instincts told me he was right. So I booked my hotel room back in March (to avoid the price hikes Dreamforce inspires) and … my future and the future of this company have been dramatically changed (more on this in upcoming posts).
- Put Aside Your Expectations – I had a vision in my mind of what it would mean to be 1 of 170,000 people – anonymous, crowded, noisy, difficult to navigate. And while some of this remained true, it was also joyous, simple to get around (San Francisco is a grid), and far from anonymous. People wanted to talk, to share, to learn.
- Be Open to Every Opportunity – My planning for this conference was focused on networking … introducing The Phone Lady to as many people as possible, grow my “list”. But within the first four hours I realized that my best choice would be to shut up and listen. Everyone I met had a “story” they were willing to share, but only if they didn’t feel like I wanted to sell them something. By listening more than talking, I discovered possibilities for business growth that are very much beyond my “wildest dreams”.
- Sometimes You Should Follow the Crowd – On the Wednesday (October 5) I had a meeting scheduled with an exhibitor (thanks to Trade Mission support from NSBI) at 1 pm and my plan was to visit more booths, listen to more stories. But … the day’s keynote, which I hadn’t planned on attending, not only included Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, but hip hop artist (and thriving entrepreneur and philanthropist) will.i.am and numerous other high-profile speakers. There were so many people wanting to attend this event, the building was closed due to safety concerns, locking me out of my 1 pm meeting. Hmmm, I thought, I’ll find a quiet spot in another building and make a new plan for the rest of the day. But … in the other building all the rooms were being used to video broadcast the keynote. I was caught in the crowd and the directions of staff, forced to sit and watch the keynote … which was incredibly inspiring and full of information I needed to hear. I’m so grateful I didn’t miss it!
- Inspiration is Everywhere – Certainly being able to be in the 8th row to listen to Tony Robbins was inspiring. I continue to feel blessed by that experience, but I waited in the crowd to get that seat with Lisa Dobson who shared with me some incredible life experiences which I will always value. And I had the opportunity to share a coffee conversation with Eilidh Lindsay-Sinclair, a young woman who’s brilliance astounds me and who motivates me to be my best self. There were also thousands of support staff at Dreamforce – serving us, helping us, guiding us – and many times, despite everyone’s sore feet, tight schedule and exhaustion, they made us smile as they danced to the background music and joked with us.
- Don’t Overthink It – I was so nervous about attending this conference and so concerned about “getting my money’s worth”, I spent a lot of time preparing. With the help of Linda Daley at Daley Progress Inc., I had a marvelous brochure, a memorable handout button, and a new landing page. It was too much. It would have been smarter to have attended this conference for the first time with only business cards and saved my marketing dollars for next year. (Fortunately, all the promo material can be used in other ways.)
- Stay Flexible – Of course, this is a great piece of advice for every business all the time, but especially at a conference like Dreamforce. While I had created a full schedule of workshops to attend, as well as meetings and events, there were other, more valuable opportunities that kept appearing. Being able to change my mind, saying ” yes” to what was right in front of me, was the key to having a very successful five days.
My thanks to everyone who made my Dreamforce16 experience possible. I encourage everyone to watch the keynote that, literally, “rocked my world”, as well as the video of will.i.am’s song Where’s The Love, which was part of the event.
Enjoy your phone work everyone!