With the #SHRM22 conference fast approaching, I wanted to take a moment as one of the #SHRM22Influencers to give some tips so you feel prepared for the conference if you are attending in person this June. We are coming out of an extraordinary time as many of us have been isolated for nearly two years, not able to interact in person much with other humans. For many people in our HR space, this conference will represent the first time they are emerging from the comfort of their computer screen to interact with the rest of humanity. Here are my three tips for making the most of the experience and keeping your sanity in the process.
What is Your Goal?
Every person who attends any conference does so with some sort of mindset about what they hope to get out of it. For some people, the goal is centered around learning. For others, they measure success by focusing on new connections. For the rest, they simply wanted to get out of town and experience the fun of an in-person conference. Regardless of which person you are, having a clear goal is critical to the kind and quality of interactions you will find at a conference like this one. My advice is to always enter the entire conference with a macro goal, like learning, for example, and then have micro-goals for each day, such as making connections or finding a new learning vendor for your company. Setting a micro-goal for each day makes you more likely to feel the conference exceeds your expectations while seeking the right activities and options to fit you. This will also keep you from getting overwhelmed with an overstimulating situation.
To Shake or Not To Shake
COVID messed with how we interact as humans. While the handshake was such a staple for so many people interacting, certainly the pandemic may have shifted that thinking for others. My rule of thumb in-person is not to shake hands. I travel worldwide in my business, speak to thousands of people, and meet countless professionals, but I choose not to engage in handshakes if possible. Even before the pandemic, I did not want to get the flu or some other germ, but now that is even more enhanced due to COVID. Instead, I am a big fist bumper with a pocket filled with hand sanitizer. Regardless of your style, to shake or not, I want you to know that it is ok. You need to care for yourself and your well-being. Just let people know as the interaction starts and if someone does not want to shake your hand, try not to take it personally. Remember, we are all in this together.
Interacting with Vendors
Remember this as a rule of thumb; vendors came to sell. They are under pressure to get deals done at conferences, and the pandemic made this situation worse. If a vendor took the time, paid the money, and then meets you in person, they will want to see what your needs are and if they can provide a solution. As a person who was in the vendor world for nearly thirteen years, I can tell you it is a very challenging situation. Just remember, they are people too. If you are a vendor reading this, here is my advice for managing these conferences; build relationships FIRST. You will not get the close on some giant sale at the conference, but you can build (or lose) relationships. Go easy, apply discipline, and be kind to the attendees as a friend. And also remember, people, buy from people they like.
Becoming an influencer for the #SHRM22 conference is truly an incredible honor. In the coming weeks, I will be adding more content about the conference, interviews, and my thoughts on how we, as HR professionals, can maximize the knowledge gained in June. See you there!
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