My First Dreamforce — The Excitement, Experience, Reactions and More

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Fall is here and with it the opportunity to attend my first Dreamforce.

First-time experiences create reactions and emotions you would have never imagined. And, while everyone’s experience is unique, there are commonalities we all share. The same goes for Dreamforce, which is Salesforce’s annual event that brings together tens of thousands of trailblazers to San Francisco, CA — its headquarters. Once there, you’ll get to experience the biggest platform announcements along with thousands of sessions and curated keynote speakers for the all products and services that Salesforce has to offer. Broken down into three days (Sep 20th — 22nd) this year, it also marked the first time this event took place in “Full-Force” since the pandemic first began.

While there are many offsite activities taking place at the same time during this event, it’s good to know that most of these do not require an event badge to attend. But, having your badge to access the main locations was key since they were being scanned every time you entered a facility. The main event took place in the following facilities: Moscone Center (North, South and West), Yerba Buena Center and the Marriot Marquis.

Most events find ways to have attendees engage with staff and activities taking place each day. Dreamforce was no different and, based on your objective, you were able to participate in all sorts of activities to be rewarded after completing key tasks. Some required more engagement than others but each provided a chance to obtain some really cool swag. The trading post became the one-stop shop where people would be able to pick up their very first trailblazer hoodie and a company plushie of their choice. The tasks required you to participate in activities found all around the first floor in Moscone West building. I personally appreciated the hoodie for its lightweight, comfort and fit. For my plushie, I chose Cody since both of us will be rocking our hoodies.

Dreamforce 2022 Trading Post

Being part of this ecosystem for just over one year and able to participate in and sponsor virtual, and in-person, community conferences I must say Dreamforce took it to the next level. Many trailblazers I connected with during the year leading up to this warned me about the impact this event can have on your career goals and growth. They were right and let me share with you my experience.

If you’ve been to a concert, sports event, convention, theme park or massive group gathering you know that when people come together for the same reason they come in the masses. Right from the start, coffee shops, fast food joints, local stores and restaurants were all packed with people attending the event. Either their attire or badge hanging by their neck gave them away. That’s not including everyone else walking the streets in herds to the other locations. What surprised me the most was the communication and engagement between attendees. Many used their country’s origin language to communicate. They were excited and happy to reconnect, many of whom had not seen each other since the pandemic began. While others were meeting for the first time in person. Salesforce is an international platform used all around the world, which helps bring people together from all countries.

The first day was full of surprises as all the kick-off sessions took place followed by the main keynote speakers. During this time you were either lucky enough to get into the main hall and physically be in-person or find a broadcast to watch it. I was able to find a section within Moscone West to sit down. It was full of energy as everyone celebrated being back in-person since the pandemic. An overview was provided which broke down the agenda that would take place during the next three days. They also announced some new products and services that will be added to the Salesforce portfolio. Everyone was excited and as it wrapped up we were all ready to grab some lunch.

Trying to get the most out of the first day I decided to venture between the Dreamforce National Park which is the main entrance to get into the Moscone North and South locations. Starting with Moscone South I quickly realized this was the location where the majority of the sponsors resided. North on the other hand had the main keynote hall along with additional booths to broadcast and promote Salesforce+. Before you knew it the day was gone and the first night of networking parties kicked off. From champagne dresses to tech bars all facilities rejoiced that the first day was coming to a close, or so we thought.

Dreamforce Networking Attractions

Remember those offsite activities I mentioned before? Well, they went into full effect as soon as the first day came to a close. Several sponsors hosted their own while others decided to collaborate and share the expense. Regardless, for several you had to be on “The List” to get in, especially those “VIP Lists” which only a few knew about. Most of them required you to sign up through a registration page to collect some of your personal information. Nothing out of the ordinary but they wanted to know who you were, where you worked, and your purpose for attending Dreamforce. These activities were promoted throughout the event so if you paid close attention you would find a QR code to scan and take you to the registration page.

The next day I managed to make my way to the second and third floors of Moscone West which broke down all the products and services by sections. Based on your role or interest you were able to visit booths to learn more about a specific product or service. I also got to sit right in front of a keynote speaker session which was a bit nerve-wracking but the comfy seats managed to make those emotions fade away quickly. As always the lines to get in and out started to feel like an amusement park. Nevertheless, the wait was worth it because the investment was a contribution to your success now or in the future. Lastly, I managed to attend more sessions and, to my surprise, some created a “Silent Disco” atmosphere which was rather new to both session speakers and attendees. It added that personal experience to the session because you were able to isolate your surroundings to clearly focus on what the speaker had to say. Rather cool if you ask me and hope to see that come back to more sessions next year. To close out the day I managed to contribute to their 1–1–1 model by planting some small pot trees!

Dreamforce Activities

As day two was coming to a close the next big thing was on the horizon; Dreamfest! An activity that gives back to attendees and the community by bringing them into a stadium, providing food and refreshments and having a top-tier performer put on a show like no other — and also raising a bunch of money for charity. This year the Red Hot Chilli Peppers were headlining Dreamfest and, with over forty thousand attendees, they were ready to rock at Orcle Park. The performance was a smashing success from start to finish. By 9 pm surrounding streets had people herding in all directions to find the next big offsite activity.

Dreamfest Concert

The last day came sooner than expected. It was time to participate in any activities I did not get a chance to do previously. I found a local coffee spot to pick up a drink and pastry and, while navigating the Dreamforce App, I found certification exams were being provided to anyone who wished to sign up! I was like “Wait a second, what is this all about”? Soon enough, I got my coffee and started to make my way to the hotel. Passing through the check-in stations, down the corridor through the check-in luggage stations and all the way down the hall I found a long line of attendees waiting to sign up and take a Salesforce certification and, if they passed, get certified. I was like “Where do I sign up”?

I waited for about thirty minutes, managed to get a spot, and signed up to take a certification. Various emotions cycled through me as I went from feeling excitement to feeling nervous to worrying and doubting myself. I didn’t know what to expect but I needed the practice to get familiar with these types of exams. The time came and I took the test. A little over an hour went by and I finished reviewing my answers before I hit the submit button. A few seconds later the system verified my responses and graded my exam. To my surprise it said “I Passed” but, because the room was filled with over four hundred attendees we were not allowed to demonstrate any type of reaction until we left the room. Once outside, I lifted both of my hands and released joy for passing my first certification exam!

Those three days felt like a rollercoaster filled with lots of excitement. I managed to experience a lot of it but somehow felt like I barely touched the tip of the iceberg. I’m pretty sure there were many activities I didn’t even know about, but that’s OK! It’s my first time and I wanted to explore and see where I ended up. Definitely like to attend next year and look forward to building more connections with people all over the world.

As always stay safe, take care and will see you in the cloud.

Jessie Penaloza
Jessie Penaloza
Content Contributor @ MK Partners.