Although I have attended SHRM Annual Conferences for many years, this year was a new experience for me - my first time speaking at a SHRM Annual Conference, and my first time blogging for SHRM! As in recent years, I spent more time on the vendor floor than attending sessions, but one of the sessions I did attend made my highlight list. For me, this year at SHRM was all about new friends, new experiences and saying yes to things that I said no to before. Every person’s experience at SHRM is different - and that’s one of the reasons it I love it. Here is my top five list of #SHRM19:
1. Joining the #SHRM19 Bloggers
Wow. By far, my favorite part of #SHRM19. I was incredibly humbled, grateful and surprised to be asked to join the #SHRM19 Bloggers. I only became active on Twitter in the past year or so, but have met so many smart, engaged and forward-thinking business and HR leaders, largely through #Nextchat and #HRSocialHour, within that time. To meet them in real life, attend sessions with them, and to join them on the blog team, was truly an experience of a lifetime. As an introvert (more on that later), I’ve attended all previous conferences solo, and it was wonderful to have a whole new community to belong to, and be inspired by. I look forward to continuing to connecting with all of my new friends throughout the next year, and seeing them all again at SHRM20!
2. Speaking at #SHRM19, and at the PI Lounge, and allergic reactions
My session, “How to Transform Your HR Department Through Technology, Even If Your HR Department is Just You!” was held on Monday afternoon. Though I was nervous, I was thrilled that several of my new blogger friends were there to support me, someone they just met in real life the day before! But before I got to that part, I had to actually get up and get moving that morning - no small feat when I woke up with a severe allergic reaction (probably to the hotel laundry), and was quite literally covered with head to toe hives. After a 4 a.m. video chat with the doctor, a quick RX, a bunch of makeup, and a ton of support from my husband who flew in that morning, I made it to and through the session, and then immediately went to urgent care to visit with another doctor. I then went directly from urgent care to the PI Lounge at Yardbird at The Venetian. The Granite Group is a proud PI client, and I was thrilled to be asked to share my story of transformation from a rule-following, paper-pushing transactional HR person, to strategic-minded, forward-thinking business leader. I’ve written quite a bit about how I got comfortable with being uncomfortable in recent years, but this took it to a whole new level! You haven’t lived until you’ve spoken in front of 600 people completely itchy and hive-covered, and managed not to scratch once! While the experience derailed some of the conference for me (I had to miss some sessions that I would have loved to attend), I learned how to deal with speaking in far less than ideal conditions, and finding the humor in tough situations. (Seriously, the morning of the presentation)!
3. Networking like an introvert
One of the sessions I was most looking forward to was Erich Kurchat’s “Network Like An Introvert.” I hadn’t realized it was on Sunday, but I got lucky enough that two of my fellow bloggers reminded me and so we went together. I had just met Chris Orozco and Paul LaLonde, and was thrilled to know I was not the only introvert blogger! In fact, as it turns out, there were many of us, and we were able to get a picture together after the session. There is often a misconception that introverts can’t network, and worse, don’t like people. Erich’s session dispelled some of the myths, and gave some great tips for those of us who would rather be home watching netflix than out partying!
4. #HRSocialHour fun
I finally go to meet Wendy Dailey and Jon Thurmond in real life! While attending the SHRM Special Expertise Panel meetings, Paula Harvey convinced me to attend a dinner with friends of the HR Social Hour. I would not have gone if it were not for her (again, introvert), but I am so glad I did. It exposed me to new cuisine (Cantonese), and a new experience post-dinner (Black Tap Crazy Shakes)! And, on Wednesday, as a former guest of the #HRSocialHour podcast, I joined a group of new friends for a great picture of guests of the show. (I actually was en route to the airport but was honored to be a guest, and was thrilled Jon and Wendy organized a picture of so many of their guests, I was determined to be in it)!
5. Vendors and coffee
The availability of coffee this year was genius. Robot coffee machines! Convos and Coffee for free cold brew and great conversations! I hope both return this year. As with previous years, one of my favorite things to do is to spend time on the vendor floor talking with new potential partners, and visiting with current vendors. It was great catching up with Predictive Index, ARAG Legal, Gradifi, Reward Gateway and many others. (And thank you for the much needed sugar fix with the Krispy Kreme donut, Reward Gateway!) I find nearly all of my new vendors at SHRM, so I spent as much time as possible on the floor. And, I don’t even mind the flood of emails and calls - I learn a lot from vendors, and look forward to connecting with many of them in the coming weeks.
And what I missed...
Or, who I missed! I had many people I wanted to meet in person, and at the top of the list was Steve Browne. A champion of HR pros across the world, we’d connected online but never in person. Fortunately I did get to see him speak. And Val Grubb, who I first connected with about ten years ago, but never met in person! Dr. Karlyn Borysenko, also from the 603, will hopefully be easier to meet!
One final note………
As an SVP of HR, I’m often asked why I still attend SHRM when many of my peers do not. This list captures some of the reasons, but there are many more. I highly recommend the SHRM Annual Conference to all, including senior HR leaders. Stay tuned for my next post on why.