So you’ve registered for SHRM 2017 and booked your hotel. It may be too early to start packing — ok, it’s definitely too early to start packing — but it’s never too early to plan for the conference experience you really want. Without proper planning it’s easy to get swept along from talk to talk, booth to booth, missing out on the best networking and learning opportunities. Without proper packing it’s easy to tire yourself out or drain your batteries dry, stranding you in your hotel room while other HR pros are enjoying great dinners, great parties and meeting all the right people while having a good time.
Pack Chargers, Cables, Batteries
If you’re an experienced business traveler you already know this one, but I’m going to remind you anyway: you must pack all the chargers, cables and rechargeable batteries that your gadgets need. If you don’t, your conference experience will be pretty miserable. Imagine losing an hour or more out of the day, every day during SHRM, because you keep having to return to your room to charge your phone? Imagine having to pay convention center prices for a spare lightning cable, or trekking all over an unfamiliar city looking for one that’s a bit cheaper?
Pack Sensible Shoes
SHRM the largest annual gathering of HR professionals in the US. It’s understandable if you want to impress your colleagues with cute and/or gorgeous shoes. But do you want to have tired, sore, blistering and maybe even bloody feet inside those cute shoes? No, you do not. You also don’t want to pack your comfiest, scuffed up sneakers, no matter how heavenly your feet will feel even after a whole day on your feet. Dilemma! Split the difference between cute and comfy with smartly polished loafers or ballet flats with built-in support or insoles.
… and Sensible Clothes
This year the SHRM conference is being held in New Orleans. That means it’s probably going to be warm — but make sure to check the forecast just before packing your bags, in case it’s going to be rainy or cooler than expected, keeping in mind that you’ll be spending hours each day in a very air conditioned convention center. Do you need layers? Maybe just a light cardigan that you can take off when you leave the conference behind to explore the city? You don’t want to be sweaty, frozen or just plain uncomfortable and you don’t want to dress it too down or too up. So avoid full suits and opt for summer weight cardigans, crisp light weight slacks, khakis or skirts and nice — and again light weight — shirts. And most importantly, remember to pack at least two outfits you can wear out at night!
Take Time Out For You
Introverts have been such a hot topic in the last few years that by now we all know — I mean, I hope we all know — that taking time out for yourself isn’t a bad thing. Even if you’re the most extroverted HR lady at SHRM 2017, you should still take some time out of your day that’s just for you. What that consists of depends on you. Maybe it’s a lazy breakfast in your hotel room. Maybe it’s regular coffee breaks throughout the day where you decompress and update your Pinterest boards. Maybe it’s sneaking out of SHRM to take in the sights — here’s what’s going down in New Orleans this June.
Meet New People
Introvert or extrovert, it can be tempting to spend conferences catching up with colleagues and old friends. But professional development doesn’t just mean learning about all the latest HR tech (and collecting all the sweet free swag), it also means expanding your network. One of the most important things you can do for yourself at SHRM this year is putting yourself out there to meet new people. Don’t assume you already know all the cool kids — get out there and meet the hungry young HR and HR tech pros! SHRM has a great program called Meet to Eat which allows you to connect with new people in a friendly, organized yet random way over dinner. Look for the Meet to Eat kiosk when you pick up your badge near registration.
I know networking can be stressful, even in a relaxed environment, but if meeting new people is a bit of a phobia for you, you can overcome this fear but setting small goals. Make a resolution to introduce yourself to one HR pro you admire this year. Have your friends introduce you to a couple of their friends each day of the conference. Or take the time to really talk to vendors and speakers about their new projects. By the time SHRM 2017 is over you’ll have made valuable new contacts.
Take Your Badge Off at Night
This one is obvious. I hope. I wish. But don’t go to parties wearing a name tag. Don’t go to dinner wearing a name tag. Don’t leave the convention centre wearing a name tag. Don’t go on public transit wearing a name tag. Don’t do it. Stop.
Wearing your badge at night tells others two things: 1) you’re all business, no play; 2) you want everyone to know your name. Once the conference has wrapped for the day, it’s time to put away your name badge, change your outfit and, well, socialize. Of course all the parties and dinners associated with big professional conferences are also networking opportunities, but they call for a different kind of networking, one where you don’t tell everyone up front about your new product, project or theory, and instead relax a bit together.
Take off your badge and have a good time!
Originally published on Workology blog.