18 Years!!! Yes, I can say that I am attending my 18th SHRM Conference in a row. So does this mean I am now a SHRM adult or something? Maybe it really says that I truly value the friendships that I have built and the experiences that I have received by attending the annual conference.
My mother was a joiner. She was a professional librarian and very active in the American Librarian Association. From her I learned the value of joining the association of my chosen profession. She would go every year to her conference and come back with all sorts of goodies. Plus she told stories of the amazing experiences that she had, so I grew up wanting those same types of experiences.
I finally was financially able to join SHRM in 1998 (20 years and counting!). I was involved with my local chapter and knew I had to take the next step as a HR professional. Having recently obtained my MBA from UNCC in 1999, I was active in our student chapter and they made me their advisor.
My first conference (2001) was held in San Francisco and I took four students to chaperone. It was quite the experience to hang out with college students in their early 20s. I remember being wide-eyed at so many HR folks in one place. The expo hall seemed huge and I visited every vendor. I came home with bags of often useless swag, not knowing better.
Now my conference experience is a mother-daughter event since I am so lucky to have my daughter, Alex, working in HR. She loves attending the conference and I now get to see it through her eyes.
The following is our pre-conference advice:
- Bring comfy shoes. Unless you are used to wearing high heels every day, don’t do it. We bring sneakers and flats.
- Have layers. Some of the session rooms can be chilly, so bring sweaters or a big scarf. Also check on the weather forecast a week ahead.
- Only take swag that you will use or have room to fit in your suitcase. I’ve become very picky over time, plus I don’t want to take advantage of the vendors.
- Network, network, network! Who understands HR better than other HR pros? You will make lifelong friends if you open yourself up to the possibility. Find out who is attending from your area ahead of time if possible and connect on social media.
- Plan ahead for which sessions to attend. Sometimes the rooms fill up so have a plan B or get to the room early.
- Embrace Twitter! Follow #SHRM18 and #SHRM18blogger for fun info.
- Most importantly, have fun!