Dreamforce, the largest in the Salesforce event calendar, is just around the corner. We know by now what this mega-event promises to attendees. But, aside from the technology and innovation, the networking is quoted as a staple highlight, and for good reason! Networking is one aspect of Dreamforce you can’t stream remotely – the right connections are a primary driver in the return on investment of attending.
With 170,000+ Trailblazers descending on San Francisco, the thought of Dreamforce can be anxiety-inducing. So, here are some thoughts from a communication coach with 17-years of networking under his belt.
The Conversation Cushion
Dreamforce is a sensory overload. People are overwhelmed, so conversation ‘cushions’ are a good tactic to use. These are questions that ease the respondent into answering; they should spark curiosity while proving you are interested in the other person’s point of view.
The examples that Michael Thompson gives are:
- “Hello, sorry to interrupt, but over the last few weeks I’ve been asking everyone I meet this one question…”
- “Hello, my friends and I have been arguing about something. Would you mind serving as our tie-breaker?”
Use these openers to navigate any personality difference or cultural nuances in conversation. A cushion that eases you in, can make responding easier. You get to have an opinion, and conversation will flow based on that opinion.
Ignite The Discussion
“Over the last few weeks, I’ve been asking everyone I meet this one question…”
The first of the conversation cushions could be general, or Salesforce-related – switch them up for a lively discussion.
- “…If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?”
- “…If you didn’t have to sleep, how would you spend the additional eight hours?”
- “…What lessons have you learned from one of your Salesforce mentors?”
- “…What’s the big keynote announcement going to be?”
- “…Which Salesforce skills do you think will be most in-demand in the next one/two/five years?”
- “…What do you predict the next big acquisition will be? What is the Salesforce core platform is missing?”
- “…What’s the next big thing you are going to do with your Salesforce org?”
- “…What Salesforce superpower would you like to have?”
“…would you mind serving as our tie-breaker?”
What I love about the ‘tie-breaker’ question, is that whichever you answer with, your answer will be accepted and respected – there is a real/imaginary person either side that shared your opinion!
- “…Just follow your passion is terrible advice, right?”
- “…Do you agree that working from home isn’t nearly as effective as working in an office?”
- “…It’s better to have generalist Salesforce skills or specialist skills – breadth or depth?”
Read the original post for a full list of great conversation cushions!
Summary: Find Your Tribe
Dreamforce can rapidly become a logistical nightmare and energy sap if you try to be everywhere at once. You should pay attention to where you are in relation to where you want to be. Sessions on one particular product/topic tend to be grouped in one location, so you will be able to find like-minded Trailblazers you have plenty in common with there.
Having said that, Dreamforce is about spontaneity and discovery. Don’t be disheartened when you may not have much in common with your new acquaintances at first glance; remember, you have at least 1 thing in common with all attendees – Salesforce! So, take a deep breath, apply a conversation cushion, and spark a conversation based on curiosity and experience.
For more advice on networking in the Salesforce ecosystem, check out our blog here.