It’s been a mainstay of my conference schedule for what feels like forever.  But this year for the first time in seven years, I’ll intentionally miss the annual Dreamforce event put on by Salesforce.com.

For six years straight (from 2008 – 2013) I was there.  Last year I missed but because of conflicts in Seattle I couldn’t get out of.

This year, I’m not going on purpose.  Here are a few reasons why:

  1. It’s just too big: Crushing crowds make it difficult to get around, find people you need, see the content you care about, etc.  This is actually a huge testament to how well Salesforce.com has quickly built a “must attend” event, but there’s a point of diminishing returns on size.  Comdex faced a similar problem several years ago.
  2. It’s no longer very efficient for me: My objectives at an event like this are to learn, to network and to find prospective future clients.  With such a large and decentralized event, those objectives are increasingly difficult every year.  I’ve found there’s a significant opportunity cost, ironically, to achieve all three of those objectives at Dreamforce vs. staying at the office and being more direct & intentional about each of them.
  3. It’s too hard to find people, and increasingly difficult to schedule & KEEP meetings:  Yes, many people you really want to see will be in the same general area in the same few days.  But schedules are increasingly fluid at Dreamforce – due to the size, difficulty of getting around, closer opportunities that pop up, etc.  I’ve found it increasingly difficult to lock down meetings but more difficult to keep them.  I love the serendipitous nature of seeing and meeting with people spontaneously, but I can’t built a business case for a whole week of travel around that.
  4. The content is available online: The keynotes are live-streamed, and you can find examples of the content shared during breakout sessions all across the Web.  This is a challenge for many conferences of course, but is a tipping point for me with Dreamforce in particular.
  5. It’s more valuable to NOT be there than to be there:  This was the kicker for me.  With most conferences I attend, time on site is incredibly valuable.  But this year, for Dreamforce, I think I can get more done and be more productive away from the conference than at it.

I struggled with this decision (given how influential Dreamforce is and has become), so asked a few friends about their plans & perspectives as well.  Here are a couple of their answers (from sales influencers who also won’t be there):

From Miles Austin:

“Dreamforce is THE conference for sales currently. It plays an important role in the learning and sharing process for sales professionals. Like many of its predecessors though, it has grown “too big” for me. Too many people, too many sessions, too many breakouts and special events, resulting in disappointment that I couldn’t accomplish what I would like to. Even coordinating a meeting with clients can be very challenging, just to find a place to meet or dine. Oh, and billable client activity!”

From Anthony Iannarino:

“I’m disappointed that I am not going to be there because the conference has worked hard to add more sales content to balance out all the content for developers. There is a huge demand for content for sales leaders and salespeople.”

How about you?  If you’re going, why is Dreamforce still a good investment?  If you’re not going, what made you decide to forgo this year?