Growth is a good thing. As someone who spends his day helping clients hone their email marketing strategy for continuous growth, I’m the last person you’d expect to lament the “good old days” of Salesforce Connections, yet here I am, lamenting, just a bit.
I’ve been attending Connections since 2010 and have always found it to be an important and unique event. I still feel this way. To my mind, however, there was a focus on community in the early days that’s being impacted by the growth of the conference. The very nature of its name—Connections—signals community building. For example, Connections used to have city-specific breakout groups that brought email marketers together to form a collective and discuss approaches on different issues. Good networking was a byproduct of those groups as it became an excellent way to meet people in a similar field who had similar challenges. That was the mindset. “Here’s a challenge, how do we solve it?” We were all part of a very specific industry with very specific industry challenges and there was a willingness to share information—a freedom in discussing the details about how someone accomplished something. I feel that’s changing as the conference grows. The more people in attendance, the harder it is to have one-on-one discussions with presenters and, in my experience, somehow makes it harder to network with more people.
On the flipside, more people in attendance means more opportunity to meet up with our clients. Trendline Interactive had a big presence at Connections this year. We hosted an event in downtown Chicago and had substantive one-on-ones with our clients. In essence, I think we were able to bring much of what I miss about the early days of Connections into our interactions. In-depth discussions around “What’s your challenge and how can we help solve it?” were frequent. Anecdotal knowledge sharing was fluid and continuous as its integral to who we are as a company. This is a learning environment—and that’s how we approach it.
I was happy to see Connections come back to the Midwest after its year-long hiatus. As a company, Salesforce listens to their consumers — which is part of the reason why the platform, and this event, continues to be so successful. I found the focused product breakouts and hands-on-training helpful in terms of navigating the more than 500 sessions. I attended a Live Nation, breakout which demonstrated how the events promoter leveraged Advertising Studio to drive ROI. They used CRM data to mine a database of 77 million to retarget fans based on their response to email campaigns. They were able to pitch the right events to the right people, at the right time, at scale. Innovative solutions like this — particularly surrounding data — are one of the top reasons I attend Connections as I’m constantly on the hunt for new tools that can get results for our clients. As Salesfore continues to refine this event with input from attendees, I think we may see a return to the “good old days” in terms of increased opportunities to connect with peers and thought leaders in the industry. These connections, after all, have long made this event stand apart.