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. We’re talking tens of thousands of people. Don’t let that scare you. It also means the conference offers something for everyone…if you prepare yourself properly. So, here’s my list of tips for people who are planning to go to the event:
- 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 app before you leave.
- 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 coffee meetings (or sneaking off to Café du Monde!)
- Some of the best sessions are the early bird ones! I know, it’s New Orleans and the trip wouldn’t be complete without an evening on Bourbon Street – enjoy the parties. But I can tell you from experience, some of the best sessions are early in the morning. I know I’ll be grabbing a dirty chai to make the “Creating a Coaching Culture” session at 7a on Tuesday, June 20.
- Don’t miss the legislative update! Mike Aitken, SHRM’s vice president of government affairs will be presenting a session on “The Trump Administration and the 115th Congress: The Washington Outlook for HR Public Policy” on Sunday, June 18 at 12:30p (right before the opening general session.) This is a session you won’t want to miss!
- 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.
- Drink plenty of water. I know, everyone says this but it’s true. Personally, I think the most popular booths in the expo hall this year will be the ones giving away Yeti Ramblers or Swell water bottles. (Hint, hint to exhibitors looking for fabulous swag ideas.)
- 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.
- Follow the Twitter stream – #SHRM17. I know that not everyone is keen on Twitter but this is one of the things Twitter does 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 eat.
- Check out at least one session on the Smart Stage. SHRM has their own version of TEDtalks – it’s called the Smart Stage. The sessions are short (less than 20 minutes) and take on a more conversational tone. I’m hoping to stop by Jonathan Segal’s session on “Social Recruiting and ‘Thong Man’” Tuesday, June 20 at 1:30p.
- Pay it forward. We don’t know the plan for the Tuesday night party yet. Whoever it is, some people will love it (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 will want someone to do that for you.
- EXPO! I simply cannot say enough how important it is to visit the vendors in the expo hall. These companies are the reason that SHRM can get awesome speakers and keep registration prices low. Exhibitors and sponsors offset those costs. So, walk around the expo and see the latest HR products and services.
- Bring a FedEx label to mail yourself stuff home. 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 FedEx shipping label and mail stuff home. If you don’t use it, fine. At least you have a plan.
- Join the SHRM Foundation Step Challenge. This is a relatively new addition to the SHRM conference activities and one I really enjoy. It gives me a steps challenge and I’m giving back to my profession at the same time. Stop by the SHRM Foundation booth (#1941) for details!
Oh, and one last thing…back again this year is the Social Solutions for HR preconference workshop. The session will be held on Sunday, June 18 from 8a to 12n and it’s focused on sharing social media strategies that will help HR achieve their business goals. I’m delighted to be one of the speakers and I hope you can join us.
As you can see, SHRM’s Annual Conference and Expo offers a lot of education, networking, and fun for professionals looking to stay current with what’s happening in the profession. See you in NOLA!
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