OREANDA-NEWS. August 31, 2016. It has been almost 10 years to the day since I first participated as a Salesforce University Instructor in THE biggest Salesforce event of the year in San Francisco. I had heard wondrous stories about amazing keynotes, cool activities, and exciting learning opportunities, including the Hands-On Training sessions (HOTs) that my team delivered. I was surprised to learn that we also ran a couple of pre-conference training workshops the weekend before the big kickoff. I thought, "Are there actually people interested in travelling in over the weekend before a jam-packed conference just to attend training?" The answer was a resounding YES!

In 2006, we only offered two one-day pre-conference training workshops, the "New Feature Workshop" and "Getting Started as a Salesforce Administrator." I was tasked with delivering the first. It included some pretty hefty new features, such as Approval Processes, Territory Management, and Partner Relationship Management (now Partner Communities)—for all you Salesforce veterans out there, you’ll know this type of workshop was not for the faint-hearted.  

I underestimated people’s dedication and was sure they would take off after lunch to get a jump start on Happy Hour. Not only did they hang in there, but they were glued to every slide, demo, and exercise. They even stayed after class to ask more detailed questions—that would’ve actually stumped me if I hadn’t have had several product managers in the room helping out.

That’s when it hit me. People aren’t just coming to our big event for the expo floor, breakout sessions, and parties. They are coming to learn how to make the most of their Salesforce investment and want to learn how to connect with their customers in a more meaningful way. They want 1:1 time with our experts, they want to network with their peers and hear about their challenges and solutions, and they want to share their insights and experiences, too.

Two years ago, we started to offer pre-conference certification prep to go along with the certification exams. The first day we actually had someone accidentally start off in the wrong class. Luckily, we identified that instead of the New Admin class, he needed to be in the Experienced Admin one. As we chatted, I discovered his goal was to leave Dreamforce ’15 as a Certified Administrator. So while he was getting settled into his new class, I asked a Master Instructor to put together a full learning agenda of HOTs to help get him prepared for his certification exam. By the end of the week, he had passed!

People bet their careers on Salesforce, and I am always moved by their dedication and hard work.  Of course, not everyone passes the exam first time, but we do our best to make sure we provide guidance and support to ensure success for when they try again. With words of encouragement (and a visit to Happy Hour to help temporarily soothe the soul), I really do believe our pre-conference offerings pave the way for an amazingly insane week.

The demand for pre-conference training still surprises me today. This year, we will be offering a full weekend of sessions with three-day, two-day, and one-day offerings. That’s 12 classes in total, not including all the certification exams also on offer before the main event. It just shows that if you build it, they will come!

With a decade under my belt, I can truly say I am an expert. Our pre-conference training will give you an amazing start to your Dreamforce experience, and may just kick your Salesforce career up a gear to boot. So what are you waiting for? Come join us!

Interested in Salesforce training and certification opportunities before Dreamforce ’16? Learn more about our comprehensive Pre-Conference Training program.