#SHRM17 Prep: Networking, Inspiration and Education -- What are Your Goals?

It’s springtime and for many of us, this means rebirth, growth and perhaps even “new life.”  All around us, we see the signs. Before we know it, life will literally be buzzing around us. As HR professionals, we see this transformation in our work as well. Goals and objectives were developed earlier in the year and spring urges forth the execution of strategies, the allocation of resources and the development of the workforce. So much needs to be learned and done to ensure the goals are realized before winter settles upon us once again.

As my professional goals and objectives swirl around in head, I find my mind wondering to SHRM17. I have, for years, identified what sessions I am going to, what vendors I will visit, and who I will try to meet with based on what my own professional goals are for that year. This “just in time” assistance has served me well and I often come away with a clear outline of how I will spend the remainder of the year to ensure my goals are met.

This begs the question…what are your goals?

·         Is there a project that needs to be completed?

·         Is there a tool you need to learn more about?

·         Is there a customer with whom you are struggling to engage and communicate effectively?

·         Is there a concept you can’t quite wrap your head around?

·         Is there a desired outcome for a certain issue but, no matter how hard you try, you don’t know where to begin?

I urge you to give these things some thoughtful consideration over the next couple of weeks. Only then can you make your SHRM17 experience truly value added and aligned with your work.

Now, on to SHRM17. Here is some advice:


1)      Spend some time reconnecting and rejuvenating quality professional relationships with people you work with or people you have already met. These discussions and “good times” will help sustain your network and, as you know, your network is a fantastic resource.

2)      However, commit to meeting new people! Your network needs to grow and needs to diversify! If the thought of meeting new people scares you, use the SHRM app or social media to throw out teasers or invites.

·         “Hi everyone…I need some help with developing a better social media policy…who has time to meet and share ideas?” or

·         “I am new to recruitment and would love to hear some tips from the experts.” or

·         “My goodness, regression analysis is as complicated as healthcare…who knew? Can someone help?”


Complacency happens to the best of us and sometimes, we just need some inspiration to get us out of our professional ruts.

1)      Keynote and Smart Stage presentations are a fantastic source for inspiration and motivation so make sure you carve out time to attend some of those.

2)      Look up from your devices! There is inspiration all around you.

·         You’ll notice strangers sharing their ideas and expertise.

·         You’ll see professionals who are incredibly outside their physical and mental comfort zone; these folks will energize you simply by showing their commitment and determination.

·         Take the time to talk to the presenters and you’ll quickly learn how passionate they are about the topic at hand.

·         Forget about the sales pitch in the vendor hall and, instead, pay attention to the innovation of the products and services; you’ll quickly realize that HR is a pretty cool, and often high tech career choice. 

3)      Talk to the people you’re sitting next to, strike up a conversation with the person on the bus and goodness, pass the time in line (there are a lot of lines) getting to know the person next to you. You’ll learn that your peers in this profession are generous and kind and I promise you they will serve as a tremendous source of inspiration.


SHRM17, at its core, is for professional development. There are hundreds of sessions presented by experts offering instruction, philosophy, tips, lessons learned, or insight. The sessions are short enough to keep your interest and long enough to satisfy your curiosity.

1)       Amplify the concurrent sessions by doing these things:

·         Get or review the slide decks ahead of time so you can make sure the content is what you really want to learn about. Once you commit to the session, take only those notes that are going to be helpful and personal to you.

·         Before you leave the session, ask the person who sat next to you what he/she got out of the session. More than likely, that person has a different perspective that will add value to your own.

·         Take time to meet the presenter and learn more about the subject and/or get his/her contact information so you can use him/her as a resource later.

2)       Attend a Smart Stage presentation or two and introduce yourself to the presenter. These sessions are power packed sessions and the presenter is up there because he/she LOVES the topic. I am confident you will learn much should you connect with that person!

3)      Attend some of the various meetings hosted by SHRM throughout the week.

4)      Pay attention to the schedule in the vendor hall and attend demos on new products and services.

5)      Read the SHRM blog; there are lots of people like me writing feverishly to keep you informed and educated.

There is simply a TON of different ways to learn at this conference. Soak it all up and get your money’s worth!

I need to wrap this blog up because you’ve got work to do! Here is a summary of my advice:

·         Identify your goals for the year or upcoming months soon…certainly no later than a week or two before you head to New Orleans.

·         Identify some things you could do or people you could meet during SHRM17 to help move the dial a bit.

·         Do those things and meet those people!

·         Oh, and enjoy yourself! It’s New Orleans…how can you not?



The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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