Happy Wednesday afternoon, all!

Hope your week is off to a productive start. If it isn’t, well, it’s not too late to change that.

Last time I wrote, I shed light on my time out at Salesforce.com’s annual conference, Dreamforce. It’s only been a week since returning from the madness, and it already feels like a lifetime ago. But, I’m attributing that to the drastic differences in the San Francisco environment when compared to that of Indy.

I’ve also had that short “lifetime” to digest some of what I saw, heard and experienced. This is what I’ve come away with:

1. For those of you in the emerging tech scene, we are absolutely in the right space.If there’s one thing that was affirmed for my team (here at Right On Interactive), it’s that we are playing in a heavily competitive space, but the right space, regardless. Who ever said competition was a bad thing? I don’t think I ever have. If anything, it shows that there’s a definite need or want for what you’re working to provide. And, even with the number of technologies and solutions out there growing as we speak, I still see the tech world getting smaller and smaller. How I still managed to run into familiar faces while out at an 85,000 person conference is a mystery to me.

Bare Naked Ladies at Dreamforce
The Bare Naked Ladies performing at Dreamforce.

2. Partying is the new networking. I’ve quickly learned that, in the tech space at least, the best connections are those made in a non-professional environment. Techies are partiers. When guards are let down, so to speak, when people speak more freely and openly, and everyone is, generally, in high spirits – that’s when the magic happens. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about this one. Don’t get me wrong,  I love a good party. I love having fun with new people (those of you who know me I think can definitely attest to that). But, at what point does this genuine-natured fun lose it’s appeal because it’s infiltrated by an emerging group of new age networkers? Or, is it even fair of me to call this trend new? My bet is that many of you have already picked up on it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one, actually.

3. Major conferences are “show off your swagger” shows. At Dreamforce, I saw companies dropping a couple million bucks on good shows, impressive (or intimidating?) looking booths, – if you could still call them that, as they dwarf everything else in the room – and crazy amounts of swag. Heck, I even saw show girls at some of the booths. Yes, I said it. I thought you only saw those at automotive trade shows these days. I guess you just can’t beat that age-old tactic. 😉

So, what does this mean for startups trying to get value out of shows like this? It’s hard. As soon as you mention you don’t have a booth (sorry, Marc Benioff, some of us don’t have $50K to spare, yet), it pokes a major hole in your clout bubble. But, I will say, if you know how to party with the right people, you’ll end up with more value coming out of it than you expected. This value won’t necessarily surface the week after you get back, but it willshow it’s head months on down the road.

This leads me to a personal and professional mantra of mine. It’s all about relationships. Decisions I make are driven more and more by the people that specific decision will surround me with. The power of genuine, strong relationships is behind every successful entrepreneur, idea and startup. It’s the same reason you hear time and again that VCs invest in a person or a team, not necessarily an idea.

So, I’ll leave you all with this: take personal assessment of your relationships today. What do they say about you?