Last year, in addition to my annual post with tips for attending the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition, I wrote a post about some of the things that I carry with me during the event. Not only was it a nice reminder for me when I’m packing, but I received several good comments from readers. So, I’m doing a 2019 version for this year’s event which will be held June 23-26, 2019 in Las Vegas. I hope you find it helpful for SHRM or any conference you attend.
- The “bag.” I will admit, I rarely carry the official conference bag. But I do bring with me a backpack or tote that will sufficiently hold my conference stuff. It needs to be comfortable to walk around with and durable. I have a classic black Vera Bradley tote that holds up well and just recently purchased a Hershel backpack that’s nice to carry. PRO TIP: If you’re new to conferences, let me tell you . . . you don’t have to take everything a vendor wants to hand you. Ask them to scan your badge and send the information you want. Trust me, they will.
- I like having the flexibility of more than one device, so I bring both my iPhone and iPad. The smart cover for my iPad is terrific for typing and it’s not as heavy as a laptop. Oh, and make sure you download the SHRM conference app as well as the SHRM Certification app ahead of time. While there will be WiFi at the convention center, it won’t be like your home or office WiFi.
- Charger, cords, and plug. Yes, I know this is low-hanging fruit, but I remain amazed at the number of people who don’t do it. They have the cord, but no plug. Or the charger and no cord. I love my Anker portable charger which does a great job. And I equally love this Belkin rotating plug. It allows me to share an outlet with friends.
- Business cards. Sometimes you meet someone at the event and don’t have time to chat but want to stay in touch. Grab their business card then connect with them later or on LinkedIn. Always, always, always have a handful of business cards available. PRO TIP: If you don’t have business cards, there’s still time to order a nice MOO Card with your contact info in time for the conference.
- Notebook. As much as I love technology, I also like taking notes on paper. And, there’s some research that shows writing things down can be the key to remembering important information. So, I love it when vendors provide a small Moleskine type notebook. PRO TIP: I bring a shipping label with me and tuck it in my notebook so I can mail home books, swag, vendor materials, etc.
- Pens and highlighters. Vendors, please take note: There’s nothing better than writing with a nice pen. And having a good highlighter. That doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. It just means nice. ‘nuf said.
- Water bottle. In an effort to be more eco-aware, I try to take water bottles with me versus buying bottled water onsite. It’s also great for my budget. My new go-to is S’well or those brands like it. It keeps beverages cold and has a nice secure lid.
- Insta-beverages. You guys know I’m a tea person and one of my biggest peeves in life is the lack of good tea when traveling. To reduce my frustration, I travel with tea bags. I also recently found some delightful instant tea latte mixes from a company called Girnar. That way when I want something, but the coffee shop lines are too long (and they always are!)…I’m covered.
- Snack. Along the same line of having a beverage option ready, I also try to have some sort of snack. If the lines are too long for lunch or the lunch options don’t appeal to me, I’ll have a protein bar or some trail mix for lunch. It takes the edge off and I’ll just have an early dinner.
- Something to pass the time. There are moments when I’m just waiting – maybe before a general session, or for a bus back to the hotel, or I just want a few moments to myself. I try to have something that serves as a little distraction. I lean toward puzzles like Sudoku or Wordscapes. There’s no rule that we have to be learning all the time.
Going to conferences is educational, inspirational, and at times, just plain fun. But to get the most out of the event, it helps to be prepared. The SHRM Annual Conference is large (huge, really). This isn’t one of those, “Oh, I forgot that…let me pop over to my room and get it.” So, plan ahead and have a wonderful time.