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  • Writer's pictureRick Kenney

Salesforce Connections … your unofficial guide is here

The road has opened back up, and a few thousands folks are set to huddle up in McCormick place in Chicago for Connections. There ain’t no show like a Salesforce show, and Connections has a lot to offer… so long as you use your time wisely. Here’s a quick take on what to expect, some sessions to find your way, and what you can do to make good use of your time while there.

Lights, Camera, Action

The spectacle of a Salesforce show is unmatched. It’s sort of a corporate carnival, with barkers, stuffies, flair, and swag groupies. Salesforce has earned a reputation for putting on an immersive attendee experience with snackable demos, strong and relevant content alongside a modest gauntlet of partner booths. You’ll notice a buzz - driven by the bright lights of a live drop-in interview as well as the life-size cosplay mascots roaming the grounds. Connections will win your eye-test - the details are covered, and the scale is impressive. This delivers delirium, an oxytocin-like effect that leads to hugs, fits bumps and a real sense of community intimacy.

But, you’re at Connections to walk away stronger and smarter. Onto the star in the bright sky: the content.

Content is Royalty

To avoid getting lost in a hedge-maze of faux trees, cabins, and campfires, you’ll need to set your agenda to a few places ahead of time. You’ll likely have a ‘trail map’ in hand, but get into the agenda early to add a few must-sees.

For my friends in retail and consumer goods, the show takes on a commerce-centric theme. The word cloud here gives a good sense of what the session focus will be - looking at all of the retail and consumer goods session titles reveals 3 topics:

  • Commerce: price tags are everywhere. From URL to IRL and into marketing channels, commerce is, well, commercialized. Commerce content will be everywhere in the show.

  • Personalization: always an attendance-driver, the ambition for personalization cuts across roles and functions. And, of course, there are new industry challenges - like empty cookie jars - that make this an evolving topic. And, with marketing, commerce, and service all represented in the sessions, there should be plenty of chatter about both recommended content and behavioral relevance across the shopper journey.

  • Experience: <Straight talk alert>: the knock on some Salesforce content has been this: the session recipe has become so hardened, that the ingredients have been overlooked. Put another way, you are likely to fill your buzzword bingo card quickly, and eye-roll ready punchlines that trail off to ‘amazing experience’. But, in surveying the session titles, there appears to be a real action-orientation across the sessions for the Connections show. And, to avoid some of the ‘yogababble’ (as Scott Galloway calls it), find your way to the theater sessions.

In the Air Tonight

The hidden gems of any Salesforce show are the open-air theaters. These are typically fast-paced sessions - 20 minutes - with either quick customer success stories, or data-driven insights. There is something terrific about the freedom of these theater bits that brings out the best in the presenters. Because of the open-air nature of these, you can always linger in the back, and move on if the topic isn’t what you are looking for. A few that I’ve circled on my agenda:

And for those looking for a more interactive experience, Leading Lights will be hosting a gameshow at the Yottaa booth, #15 on Wednesday at 4pm. You’ll walk out with all the site speed insights, and maybe a prize as well.

Connections Made

So, you’ve seen some great content. That likely is worth the cost of admission, but the real order winner here is whether you are leaving with more… wait for it … connections. Here are 3 ways to make sure you make that happen.

  • 2 question conversations: you’ll have some dead time before a session, or in line. Instead of checking email or doom-scrolling, have two questions ready for a nearby attendee: ‘Are you working with <insert Salesforce cloud here>?’ and ‘what are you most proud of?’ You can talk about integrations, challenges, successes, any of that. Just ask questions and get to know the community!

  • Post-Theater chat: talk with a speaker after a theater session. Thank them. Give them feedback. Introduce yourself.

  • Ask for bests. Dead time in an elevator or lunch line? Ask about the best session they have seen. Maybe it will be offered again. Even if not, you met a cool person!

It’s time to connect — see you Wednesday - have a great show.

Connections starts Wednesday at Chicago’s McCormick Plan.

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