As of this writing, there are expected to be more than 140,000 people at next week’s annual Dreamforce event.  That’s incredible on a number of fronts.  Over the past 3-4 years as the popularity and attendance at this event has skyrocketed, the need for a pre-meditated plan has increased exponentially in importance.  This includes everything from how you plan your time, how you take notes, what you walk around with and much more.

With so many people attending Dreamforce for the first time this year, I asked several “veteran” attendees for their best advice to survive and get the absolute most out of the week.  You’ll notice some recurring themes in their answers below.

Conrad Bayer, founder, Tellwise
Wear comfortable shoes because getting the most out of Dreamforce is about walking and talking. Optimize your schedule for conversations over sessions. You can get the sessions later but not the face to face time.

Chad Burmeister, VP Sales & Marketing, ConnectAndSell
Sign up for all of the social events in advance.  Just google DreamForce parties.  Whether you attend or not, it’s great to have the option to attend.  If you don’t sign up in advance, these events do get over-booked and sold out”.

Jill Konrath, sales expert, author and speaker
Write down every idea that pops up. Otherwise it’ll quickly disappear in the sea of new info that your brain is drowning in. When Dreamforce is over, review your notes to pick: 1) One actionable item that will have an immediate impact and 2) One long-term project/strategy that you can get started on.

Josiane Feigon, president, TeleSmart
I’ve been watching the Dreamforce Episodes that are fantastic in terms of behind-the-scenes stuff. They are hosted by Julie Liegl, the conference chair and she interviews major influencers from Salesforce. Some of my favorites are Episodes #1,4,9 and 13. Just wrote a post about it.

Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher, Selling Power Magazine
Plan for serendipitous meetings. Don’t make the rookie mistake to create a schedule that’s jam packed full where you have to hustle from one meeting to the next without time to reflect on what you discussed at each meeting. Last year I created a 30 min break after each meeting which allowed me to take notes, check my email and return phone calls. I spent most of this in-between time near the entrance and run into many people that were not on my schedule, but eager to talk. This little idea doubled the number of conversations at the event.

Kurt Shaver, president, The Sales Foundry
Don’t overdose on sessions where it is all information absorption. Spread your time between sessions, the expo floor, talking to people in open areas, and even getting outside to enjoy the great October weather in San Francisco.

Anneke Seley, founder, Reality Works
Stay hydrated and pace yourself. Same as an endurance sport.:-)

Koka Sexton, director of marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Dreamforce can be overwhelming to newcomers or can be a professional Disneyland. Pick a small number of companies you want to know more about and stop by to talk to their staff about their product. Determine what sessions you want to attend and be sure to write down 3-4 lessons learned that you can apply at your business.

Kyle Porter, CEO, Salesloft
Get the cell phone numbers of the people you want to connect with, set appointments with them prior but be willing to use text messages and be flexible. Don’t overwhelm yourself with sessions but for the few you pick, go all out. Make Chatter comments, sit in the front row, meet the speakers before and after. Ask a question, be insightful. Make yourself known. Get to inbox zero before you go to bed 🙂

Joanne Black, president, No More Cold Calling
Set a goal for Dreamforce and schedule as many meetings as you can in advance. It’s better to have a handful of robust conversations with specific action steps than to do the old “spray and pray.” Prepare for packed, exhausting days, so eat well and get sleep.

Jill Rowley, social selling expert & evangelist
If any of the exhibitors are a good fit for your offering, go by and say hi. Don’t pitch them on the showroom floor. Stop by to learn more about THEM. To be interesting, be interested. Don’t return home and stuff the business cards in your desk drawer.  Send a personalized invite to connect on LinkedIn and seek them out on Twitter. Have the LinkedIn mobile app fired up at all times. Dreamforce is a marathon, not a sprint. You are what you tweet, so tweet it up using #DF14 #DF14Sales #DF14SalesSummit and whatever other hashtags are relevant to your world.

Craig Elias, author, Trigger Event Selling
Pick one channel for all your communication while at Dreamforce. The last time I went people were texting me, tweeting me, emailing me, calling me, and sending me LinkedIn messages to meet at the show. It drove me crazy when it took me so long to figure which channel they used and to get back to them. This year I’m using text (+1.403.874.2998) as my primary form of communication while I’m this year’s Dreamforce and I’m telling everyone that’s the way to reach me at the show.