This Sunday, SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management) will kick off its annual conference in Chicago. I’m fortunate and honored to be one of the official bloggers for the conference along with some of the best HR pros and bloggers in the industry. This will be my third SHRM annual conference, attending all three in Chicago (’08 & ’13). I do not attend a lot of conferences, with the exception of the Illinois SHRM state conference, as my job and an HR practitioner keeps me pretty busy. But with the annual conference being in my backyard, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.
The SHRM conference is massive and can be intimidating. With close to 15,000 attendees and over 200 sessions to choose from, just figuring out where to begin is overwhelming. Throw in the countless opinions, tweets, and blog posts from the veteran attendees, and you can find yourself helpless.
But fear not and remember this is a learning experience for you. Learning isn’t supposed to be easy and it doesn’t have to be painful either. Before looking at the schedule, think about why you are attending in the first place. What drew you to the conference? Once you’ve figured that out, start to map out your game plan.
Admittedly, I’m not that big of a planner. Shocking nobody who knows me, I like a little spontaneity to my day and tend to plan things last-minute. Yes, I drive a lot of people crazy. I haven’t mapped out my days yet, but I have a few key sessions I’m interested in. Luckily, I’ve downloaded the amazing SHRM conference app and this will be my lifeline. I have my own learning goals and will be seeking sessions that align to those.
Also, I’m part of a pilot program within my company to help share content from conferences. We are trying to better track all of the conferences our employees attend and provide a playbook for attendees around how to prepare before the conference. We would also like to provide tips on how to engage during the conference and how to share learnings, contacts, and materials after the conference. So, I need to pay attention!
I have a general plan to embrace the whole experience. I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends I haven’t seen in a long time and meeting new ones. I plan to spend some significant time in the expo hall and thank the vendors for making this happen. I’ll take in a few evening parties and even the Pentatonix show. Hey, my kids are big fans so I have to attend to get some cool points.
Whether you are attending your first or your 10th, make sure you get out of it what you want to. For plenty of tips and tricks, check out the #SHRM18 blog by the blog squad to get a lay of the land. Leave room for some fun and down time in the city as it’s shaping up to be a beautiful week. And if you see me roaming the session rooms or the expo hall, stop by and say hello. See you in Chicago!