11 Tips for SHRM Annual Conference Attendees – #SHRM19

Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby after speaking at the SHRM Annual Conference in Las Vegas, NV


If you’re in the human resources profession, then you know the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference is fast approaching. This year’s event will be held June 23-26, 2019 in one of my favorite places, Las Vegas. This is a must-go event for me and I’m not just saying that because it’s in Vegas. I’m really looking forward to the educational opportunities, seeing fellow bloggers that I interact with on Facebook and Twitter throughout the year, and professionals who I worked with as a SHRM volunteer leader.

If you’ve never been to a SHRM Annual Conference before or it’s been a few years, let me tell you – it’s a big conference. HUGE! We’re talking tens of thousands of people, but don’t let that intimidate you. The ginormity (it’s a word, right?!) of the event also means the conference offers something for everyone . . . if you prepare yourself properly. So, here’s my annual list of tips for people who are planning to attend:


  • Download the conference app. If you’re looking for copies of handouts and special announcements, it will all be in the app. You could wait and do it onsite. There will be WiFi during the conference, but it’s not like your WiFi at the office or home. So, download the SHRM Annual Conference app before you leave. It will save your data plan for more important stuff.
  • Download the SHRM Certification app before you leave. If you are a certified professional and have an iPhone/iPad, make life easy on yourself and download the SHRM Certification mobile app. You can track recertification points as you earn them.
  • Bring a shipping label to mail stuff home to yourself. The expo hall is also the home to all kinds of conference swag. If you’re concerned about your luggage hitting the weight limit, just print off a shipping label and mail stuff home. If you don’t use it, fine. At least you have a backup plan.
  • Start following the Twitter stream – #SHRM19. I know that not everyone is a fan of Twitter, but conferences and events are one of the things Twitter continues to do well. Dust off your Twitter account before you leave and save the hashtag. It’s a way to follow the action. You might get some ideas about a session to attend, a book to purchase, or someplace fun to meet and eat.


  • Plan your schedule but save some time for impromptu meetings. There’s a delicate balance between sticking to a schedule and taking advantage of last-minute opportunities. If you’re a scheduling freak like me, I block off free time to use for last minute meetings (or sneaking off to Starbucks! Or maybe a burger run!!)
  • Some of the best sessions are the early ones! I know, it’s Las Vegas and the trip wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of partying. But I can tell you from experience, some of the best sessions are early in the morning. I know I’ll be grabbing a venti dirty chai to make the “Work Inspired: How to Build an Organization Where Everyone Loves to Work” session at 7:15 a.m. on Monday, June 24.
  • Check out at least one session on the Smart Stage. SHRM has their own version of TED Talks – it’s called the Smart Stage. The sessions are short (less than 20 minutes) and they take on a more conversational tone. I’m hoping to stop by Louis Lessig’s session on “Understanding Cybersecurity: The New Role of HR in Protecting Your Organization” on Monday, June 24 at 12:20 p.m.


  • Use the bookstore as a central meeting location. Every time I’m at a conference, there’s always at least one moment where someone says, “Where should we meet?” The answer? Right in front of the SHRM Store. Works every time. And, while you’re waiting, you can check out the excellent books and resources they have available.
  • Take care of yourself. Drink plenty of water. Yes, I know that everyonesays this everyyear but it’s true. Vegas in June will be hot, hot, and hot. Wear comfy shoes. Bring lip balm and skin moisturizer. The conference is supposed to energize you. And if that also means finding a little quiet time for yourself, do it too!
  • Pay it forward with party tickets. Lionel Richie was recently announced as the entertainment for the Tuesday night party. Some people will love this choice (and others not so much). If you’re not going to use your Tuesday night ticket, give it to someone who will use it. At some point, you’ll want someone to do that for you.
  • EXPO! Last but certainly not least, I cannot say enough how important it is to visit the vendors in the expo hall. These organizations are the reason that SHRM can continue to secure awesome speakers and keep registration prices low. Exhibitors and sponsors offset those costs. So, walk around the expo and check out the latest HR products and services.

The 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition offers a lot of education, networking, and fun for professionals looking to stay current with what’s happening in the profession. And I’m not just saying that because I’m going. Every year, it continues to amaze me. Hope you can join us in Vegas Baby!

P.S. If you want to get a jump-start on your learning experience, join me for a pre-conference educational program. I’ll be facilitating “Talent Acquisition: Creating Your Organization’s Strategy” starting Saturday, June 22, 2019. For more details, check out the SHRM Annual Conference site. The program is pre-approved for professional development credit and is part of the requirements for the Talent Acquisition Specialty Credential.

Originally posted on HR Bartender blog.




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