We’re just a few weeks away from the biggest collection of HR professionals in the world….. the SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition. It’s one of those events where you’ll find HR pros in all phases of their careers, from all parts of the world, who work for every type of company under the sun. Where better to put this collection of diversity but in Las Vegas!
Personally, I hate when events are in Vegas. Somehow the sights like people dragging their oxygen tanks around with them from one slot machine to another at 4 am, people on the street trying to flip nudie business cards at me, and hookers picking up Johns as I walk by the hotel registration desk just does not scream “HR Conference” to me. But I digress.
The fact is that no matter the location, SHRM is one of the most valuable events for practitioners. As a seasoned conference goer, I thought I’d share some tips to guide you through this year’s event whether it’s your first time or your twentieth.
1. Attend my session. Ok, maybe this shouldn’t be tip #1 but you have to admit that if I didn’t tell you to come to the session that Steve Boese and I are doing about HR technology implementation, I’d be remiss. Seriously, be there on Tuesday morning bright and early for a session that will give you practical insights on implementing technology.
2. Attend all the 7 am sessions. I am not kidding. I get that it’s Vegas Baby! and that you’re thinking you won’t be able to get your party on if you have to be at a 7 am session. Trust me….those are the great ones. Great topics. Great presenters. Be there.
3. Don’t stay where everyone else stays. This is true for any SHRM conference. It’s the only way you can have any real down-time, away from the conference mayhem. Vegas is prime territory for finding a nice hotel like the Cosmopolitan or Aria where you can have great views and make time to hit the pool or spa.
4. Diversify. Break out of your routine and comfort zone. Don’t just attend sessions. Don’t just hang around people you know. Plan to walk the expo floor and talk to at least 2- 3 new people each day of the conference. Attend at least 2 sessions that you think sound completely irrelevant to your current job. You’ll surprise yourself by learning something you normally wouldn’t.
5. Network like a champ. I mean it….I don’t want to hear that you’re an introvert. Think of me like your mother telling you to eat all the food on your plate because of the starving children in China. If you are fortunate enough to be at SHRM Annual, think of the thousands of your HR comrades who will NEVER have this opportunity. I used to be that practitioner. You’re there so be brave and introduce yourself to anyone who walks by you with a name badge.
6. Know when to take off the name badge. Earlier I mentioned partying and if you’re the type that just needs to do that, remember to not wear your name out and about. Nothing good can happen with your badge on after 5 pm. It may even be a good idea to have an aka if you’re going out. Just saying.
7. Make notes. Not just notes in sessions, but each time you return to your room, sit down and write a quick one page summary of what the takeaways were from that day. You’ll be experiencing so much in a short amount of time so make the most of remembering what is important for when you return to your office.
8. Take care of number One. I used to be guilty of going to conferences and not eating properly. Make sure you eat and sleep enough. Also, it’s Vegas, so it’s dry. Lather yourself in lotion constantly so your skin will love you and drink water at least 3 times as much as you would at home. You’ll thank me later.
9. Follow it all on social. If you’re on social, you know the drill. If you are not, at least get on LinkedIn and follow what people are saying about the event. You’ll get good tips in real time of what is going on, where to be, etc.
10. Have fun. Seems it would go without saying but don’t just worry about sessions and notes. Have a memorable trip.
Oh, and just to recap, come to my session on Tueday morning. Can’t wait to see you there!