by Alicia Schmidt, Director of Online and Adoption Marketing
In a nonprofit organization where your to-do list can seem never-ending and your passion can lead you to work more hours than you probably should, it can be difficult to set aside time to learn something new and/or connect with others who might help your organization work better.
Before I joined the Foundation, I was a Foundation customer, doing Development at a mid-sized arts organization. When I got my first invitation to Dreamforce in 2007, I didn’t think much of it. Why would I go to a “corporate” technology conference? I already had enough logo covered water bottles and squeezy stress balls and I had lots of other things to do. Lucky for me, a friend (who turned out to be much smarter than me) encouraged me to go. And with my cynicism in check, and taking my best guess at what qualified as business casual, I went.
I admit, Dreamforce was a tad overwhelming that year. And I had a few of those surreal moments you might expect at an event like Dreamforce (like wow, I wonder how much THAT cost).
But the truth is that I came back from Dreamforce with a new set of Salesforce skills, a host of ideas about how my organization could take better advantage of the technology, and a list of connections that would help me find partners and solutions for many years to come. In other words, I came back to my organization a greater asset than when I left, which was good for me, and great for my organization.
Why would I go to Dreamforce?
I would go to:
• Learn. I can’t stress this enough. For just $300, you have access to more than 650 breakout sessions, including nearly 50 hands-on sessions. You will never have a better opportunity to learn so much for a relatively small investment. And in addition to the salesforce.com content, the Foundation is also presenting more than 20 nonprofit specific sessions.
• Connect. I’ve found the nonprofit Salesforce user community to be a truly open and collaborative group of folks who want to connect and contribute to the success of the sector. We expect more than 1,500 nonprofit and higher ed users to join us at Dreamforce this year. Once you register, you also get access to a number of Chatter groups in the Dreamforce App. You can even start your own. Check out the list of Foundation sponsored groups >
• Discover new apps and solutions that can help you extend the functionality of your Salesforce org from more than 350 partners. Walk through the Expo to see the possibilities. And ALWAYS ask if they discount or donate to nonprofits. In the Foundation Zone, you will also find 20 partners that are focused on the nonprofit community.
• Get Inspired. Never underestimate how powerful a little knowledge and a lot of vision can be. At Dreamforce, you’ll be the first to hear about new salesforce.com products and features that you can take back to transform the way your organization works.
• It can actually be FUN! Just give in to the chaos, get your picture taken with Sassy (imagine the ironic Facebook post potential), and let yourself enjoy the Red Hot Chilli Peppers on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco. (I also highly recommend stepping out for lunch at The Grove or grabbing a drink at Zero Zero).
As part of the Foundation’s Power of Us program, nonprofits can attend Dreamforce 2012 for just $300 – that’s nearly $700 off the current rate. Check out http://www.salesforcefoundation.org/dreamforce to get the rate and get registered.
Have you been to Dreamforce before? What did you get out of it (comment below)?