Advice has already starting flowing in about what to do while in Chicago for the big event. In case you missed it: China Gorman provides some excellent advice about maximizing your SHRM Conference experience. Jessica Miller-Merrill provides you with the top 10 things to do while you are in Chicago and not going to the conference. Trish McFarlane has brought back her 10 Conference Commandments.
This will not one of those posts.
I will be attending my 13th SHRM Annual Conference, and below I, instead, will provide you, based on my years of experience, the things you do NOT want to do while attending.
1. Do NOT suffer from SWAG remorse.
The exhibit hall is going to open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 16 and you going to be tempted by every vendor with some sort of gee-gaw or doo-dad that you absolutely have to bring back to the office. You may have already received an inch tall pile of vendor mail and you've mapped out your strategy for maximizing your haul. You may have even packed light so that you have plenty of room in your suitcase for the haul. It is free, right? You HAVE To grab it. Trust me, as a former victim, you will suffer from SWAG remorse. It may take a week....it may take a month, but you are going to look at that tote bag full of "goodies" you brought back and you are going to ask yourself why you grabbed that 7th t-shirt or 14th squeeze ball. Regret always tastes sour.
I have posted this several times since 2010, and people are still not listening. Rollerbags are the scourge of the exhibit hall. They get underfoot, and people are often unaware of the people behind them when toting it along. Don't be that person.
You make think the exhibit hall is huge, but the rows are narrower than you think. If you see someone you know, step out of the way, so that others can traverse the area more freely. If people have to walk around you, you're doing it wrong.
The phrase "seat at the table" is officially barred from mention at the conference. If you say it, you owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If you overhear it in Chicago, tell that person they owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If a speaker uses it in a session, please tweet out the following phrase:
"(Insert speaker name here) owes $100 to the @shrmfoundation for saying "Seat at the table." #SHRM13 #SHRMShame"
5. Do NOT attempt to scalp your Kelly Clarkson wristband
Unless you're registered as a "ticket broker" with the Illinois Secretary of State, selling/bartering for tickets anywhere at an event venue aside from the box office is illegal. It is a Class A misdemeanor and you may be subject to a $5000 fine from the state of Illinois.
Note: I am not a lawyer, nor will I be staying in a Holiday Inn Express while at SHRM Annual.
6. Do NOT, under any circumstances, sing "Happy Birthday" to Jennifer McClure at 8:15 a.m. on Monday, June 17.
While it is Jennifer McClure's 32nd birthday on June 17, she would TOTALLY be embarrassed and would just hate it if a capacity crowd began singing "Happy Birthday" to her as she closed out her Mega-Session. Instead, she would appreciate it if you simply attended...oh, and some Diet Coke, cupcakes, and M&M's.
7. Do NOT text or tweet and walk
There will be 13,000+ individuals in attendance at the McCormick Place. When that General Session with Dan Pink or Blake Mycoskie lets out, you and all your new friends will simultaneously be trying to get out of the hall and head to the next session, the bathroom, or to grab some coffee. Please do not start walking and stare down at your phone. I am excited that you have the Twitter, Facebook, or Hootsuite app, and you are using the #SHRM13 hashtag. But, inevitably, you will run into the back of someone. This will not be one of those "meet cute" scenarios you see in the movies. Instead, you will likely be called out because that person you just ran into will see your name on your badge.
8. Do NOT wear your SHRM Conference badge at night.
As SHRM notes, wearing your badge outside of McCormick Place will peg you as a visitor from out of town and a target for crime. Even worse, many of you will likely heading to one of the bevy of parties, or, from what I hear, Chicago has a few bars. Drinking will likely lead to bad behavior on the part of some of you. Wearing your badge will likely make your name live in infamy as people mention your sordid exploits at future conferences. Try to drink in relative anonymity and leave your badge in your hotel room.
So, what else would you tell attendees NOT to do? Leave a note below, or tweet your suggestion to #SHRM13Festivus (h/t to Laurie Ruettimann for the hashtag)