It’s Go Time: My Game Plan for Dreamforce 2014

11 Oct

Dreamforce 2014This is my fourth time at Dreamforce, salesforce.com’s user conference and the world’s largest cloud computing show located in San Francisco. While I have a few years of it under my belt, this is my first time as a non-salesforce employee. I’m going to Dreamforce to represent the fast-growing Salesforce partner, RingLead. I’m excited to bring even more energy, experience and ideas to this event as I have in years past.

If you’re new to Dreamforce or just looking for ways to get the most out of the show, here’s my plan for scheduling my days, and using helpful resources.

My Schedule

I love to live blog sessions and keynotes, and the content I create must appeal to Dreamforce attendees, Dreamforce fans that are interested but could not attend, and of course, other marketers. To make sure I appeal to this audience with my content, I plan my days ahead of time. With nearly 1,500 sessions, I need to know where I’m headed and when. Why plan ahead?

  • Some venues and sessions can be a 15 minute walk apart, so you need time to get there.
  • Sessions fill up so you’re not guaranteed a seat. Getting there early will give you a better shot.
  • Live blogging requires scheduling, planning and thinking ahead.

I, of course, did not mention the essentials of eating, bathroom breaks, checking work emails and stopping to say hello to people. With all of this in mind, here’s how I plan my days:

  • 1-2 sessions and one keynote per day. This gives me ample time to get to the sessions, plan ahead for blogging and makes sure I’m not running around like crazy. It’s manageable and still plenty of great content to digest. I make sure I get to the main keynotes because those are the most inspiring with amazing speakers.
  • Booth duty. RingLead has a booth at Moscone West (W827), so I plan to be there everyday to meet customers, colleagues, and coworkers. Spending that time at the booth is invaluable. I also love the Expo halls because you get to see all the great vendors (and grab some swag – RIngLead has t-shirts this year!).
  • Extracurricular events. The evenings are crucial times for networking with tons of awesome parties. I make sure to attend the events and parties with partners and people that I know and want to see. During the day, plenty of companies have restaurants, hotel conference rooms and spaces rented for charging up, relaxing and catching up on work, such as The Oasis by the Cloud Collective. And lastly, I always try to get a good run in, so I plan to do the DF14 Fun Run.

Helpful Resources

It’s tough to plan Dreamforce without some great tools. At the same time, you need these tools and resources throughout the show to make sure you get everywhere you need to be and make the most of your time. Here’s what I use.

If you’re going to Dreamforce, comment here or tweet me at @amandalnelson. It would be great to meet up!

Is Blogging the Best Medium?

21 Sep

I love you Blogs and CoffeeWriting is one of the most important aspects of my life. It’s my job, my hobby and my outlet. It keeps me grounded, but at the same time, lets me fly. I feel dedicated, passionate and inspired when I write.

Is blogging the best medium? I believe so. Here’s why.

Blogging is anything you want it to be

It can be a quick and painless post or a deeply researched piece. There are so many different styles and ways to blog that the medium itself is inspiring. You can write a haiku or a 2,000-word post. Either way, it’s blogging and either way, it can be engaging.

Blogging is about people

There are plenty of amazing blogs, but behind many of these great blogs are smart people. I’ve met some of the most inspiring people from blogging. It motivated me to write the next great post.

Blogging is a science

There are specific tactics to excel at blogging that help you grow your exposure, followers, traffic, comments and attention. Tapping into SEO, images, keywords, topical ideas, etc. can boost your blog’s success. It’s all about testing and finding the right ingredients to a successful blog.

Blogging is ongoing

There is no end to a blog. A blog does not go to print or sit on a shelf. It’s living and breathing and can be updated anytime. I love to go back and change old posts. Whether it’s a new headline, image, call to action, etc., it’s about looking at the blog overall and not just the latest post.

Blogging is accessible

It’s mobile, social, and just plain accessible.

Blogging can change your life

Having a blog is a great platform to stand on. It’s something to share in the interview process. It establishes credibility. It can help you get a job.

You can create and grow your personal brand with blogging. Your blog is a reflection of you.

Your blog is always there for you.

Your blog is ready and waiting for you to add to it, anytime and anywhere. When I sit down to blog, it’s just me, my laptop and my thoughts. I look forward to that precious time, and I look forward to those who want to read it.

Is blogging the best medium for you? Why or why not?

Image credit: http://thebargainblonde.blogspot.com/2012/07/who-do-i-need-to-speak-to-about-adding.html

When a Cheesy Facebook Quiz Made Me Think Twice

31 Aug

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 1.59.55 PMI recently took a gimmicky Facebook quiz from Bitecharge (come on, we all do it) about the right career for me. While I’m not questioning my career, I don’t spend my afternoons taking quizzes, and I wasn’t about to let a tacky quiz confirm my life choices, I was intrigued. I also wanted to indulge in some mindless activity for the heck of it.

During the senseless, ridiculous clicking, one quiz question stood out:

Do you tend to live in the past, in the future, in the present?

Screen shot 2014-08-31 at 1.47.19 PM

Believe it or not, that lame Facebook quiz made me think.

Past

You can learn a lot from the past. Reflecting on it can reveal patterns and lessons. It can help you learn from mistakes. It’s where memories are held and where friendships start. The past can make you smile, or it can make you cry.

The past, to me, is the easiest place to go. It’s a default. It’s where my mind goes when I daydream and when I dream I night. I remember those I’ve lost and those I miss. I relive both positive and negative memories in my dreams.

However, the past doesn’t help you focus on what’s to come. It’s not looking forward. It’s not a place to be when you’re goal-oriented or driven by something untouchable at the moment.

Present

The present is about enjoying the moment you’re in right now. As you read this post, you’re focusing on the present. You’re not looking back, and you’re not looking forward. Focusing on the present is important.

As a mother, I work hard to focus on the current moments. I want to enjoy and cherish my son wearing his first pair of roller skates or eating apples off my apple tree. I never want to wish this time away, and if I focus somewhere else, I’ll miss what’s right in front of me.

The Internet focuses on the present. If the Internet could talk, it would ask, “What have you done for me today?” No matter how hard you work to build up a social media presence or to create great content, it’s truly what you launch today that makes the most impact.

I find this place the hardest one to focus, but it’s important personally and professionally. If you constantly look back, you’ll never move ahead. If you’re only looking forward, then you miss this moment.

Future

Looking toward the future is about constantly keeping your eye on the prize. Whether it’s a promotion, your kid’s next birthday or even considering which post you’ll read next, it’s always about looking forward.

I am an optimist. While I reflect on the past, I’m more likely to be positive and open about what’s ahead. I don’t see doom and gloom in my future; I see a place that holds my achievements. It’s a dangling carrot; and I’m hungry.

Perhaps more than the past or present, the future is where I want to be. I am excited about what the future holds both personally and professionally. I don’t want to wish my life away, but I do want to think about the road ahead and how I can prepare for it now.

Thinking about the future helps me overcome any current challenges. It reminds me that my concerns are small in the scheme of life. It keeps me grounded and thinking about the big picture. Whatever you struggle with today, ask yourself if it will be an issue tomorrow, a month from now, or even a year from now. If it won’t be a problem at that point, it’s probably something that you can overcome. Thinking about the future can get you through the complicated, challenging and sometimes painful things that life throws at you.

 

And so, I clicked Future.

Perhaps like life, I was looking ahead and hoping for the best. But when that quiz revealed that my career is a Writer, I realized that maybe the answer I chose wasn’t just the correct click for the quiz (which you can take here). It was perfect for me, too.

 

How Social Media Changed the Way I Shop

18 Aug

social media shoppingThe way I shop today is completely different from my shopping experience during my teenage years. I used to walk the malls for hours every Saturday. I would window shop while swinging shopping bags each containing a garment or two. Today, the mall is a distant memory. I haven’t held a shopping bag in years.

Times have changed, but I’m not just referring to the shift from brick and mortar to online locations. This is about the shift to social media. Here’s what I mean.

Facebook Group Shopping

My town and the neighboring towns have Facebook groups for residents to buy, sell or trade items. From campers to kids clothes, couches to purses, the group is updated non-stop with items. It’s a great way to keep items local, and out of landfills. It’s like Craig’s List limited to a town-wide radius, which makes selling bulky items a breeze.

This is a social environment for neighbors to connect. It’s about leveraging the people around you to find and sell items for major discounts (even free) without having to travel. It’s a local and social way to shop.

Pinterest Shopping

Whenever I need a specific item (typically clothing, accessories or home decor), I search Pinterest first. I was all about rompers this summer, and Pinterest had tons of adorable options to peruse. Once I found the romper of my dreams, I clicked through to the website to get more details and eventually buy the item. Once I bought it, I pinned it, too.

Pinterest aggregates innovative, unique and fun ideas into one, social space. I use it to plan, and it helps organize my thoughts and ideas before making a purchase.

Before Pinterest, I would search catalogs, magazines, and websites for ideas. I’d print or rip out pages and put them in binders. This brings that entire experience online and makes it social.

Handmade Shopping

I recently helped plan a baby shower and it turned out that nearly all of the items for the event were purchased through Etsy. We had a specific vintage car theme, and with Etsy, we were able to connect and work with specific designers that had the look we wanted. From the invitations to the decor to the gifts, Etsy was a great way to make the event cohesive, unique and elegant.

Before Etsy, I did the typical iParty or Oriental Trading Post shopping experience. Etsy is more specific and catered to your needs since you work with a designer directly. Even better, it was not much more than a trip to iParty.

How has social media changed your online shopping experience?

How Running Changed My Life

19 Jul

RunningI never liked running. I would beg my mom to let me stay home from school whenever gym class required a mile run. Running seemed boring and tiring. There was no way you were getting me on that track. Continue reading

Lessons to My 21-Year-Old College Grad Self

27 May
Me on my graduation day in 2004.

Graduation day in 2004.

This May marked 10 years since I graduated from the University of Hartford. I remember it well. It was a beautiful day in Connecticut and my dad was there, proud as ever. I was excited for a lot of things that day. I was excited to wear my graduation gown, and to throw my cap. I was excited to see my friends and share the day together. I was excited to start the next chapter in my life and get a job in New York City. That was my dream.

That day was bittersweet. While all of this excitement surrounded me, I  was also scared and sad. I was leaving my home of four years. I was leaving my friends of four years. I was going out into the big, unknown world where no one knew anything about me. It was a day to celebrate, but it was also a day to say goodbye.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t about if you’d find a job, but when, and how fast. Jobs were prevalent then, even for recent, wide-eyed grads. I remember my friend Shawn already had a job lined up and I wanted that so badly. But I would land a job two weeks later in New York City, and it would be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

A lot has happened in the last 10 years. Both life and career changes have shaped me into the working mom I am today. So what lessons did I learn in the past 10 years that I’d want my 21-year-old self to remember?

  • Don’t be sad. The future is bright and shiny.
  • Be optimistic. Unknowns are not scary, they’re exciting.
  • It’s all about what you make of it. Your mindset sets the playing field.
  • Have confidence. You can do it. You have to believe in yourself if you want anyone else to believe in you.
  • Don’t stress so much. You’ll find that job and make that next move in life. Worrying won’t solve problems.
  • Know you’re not alone. Many, many, many, many people graduate. They find jobs. They begin their lives. You can do it, too.
  • Work hard. Things don’t fall in your lap. You have to earn them. Wake up every day ready to kick butt.
  • Life is hard. Embrace this and it will be an easier pill to swallow. Nothing good comes easily.

What other life lessons would you share?

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