What goes on in Vegas shouldn’t stay in Vegas
So, you’re headed to the SHRM Annual Conference which means you’re going to the surface of the sun in late June.
Congratulations, I think. 🙂
In all seriousness, you’ve made a huge investment of time and money to go to this conference; let’s make sure you get the most out of it!
1. Download the SHRM15 app on your smart phone and/or tablet. You’ll login to that app using your SHRM member number and password and/or your conference registration number and you’ll use this app to create your schedule either prior to or during the conference. The app has a plethora of things for you including information about speakers, sessions, vendors, layout of conference center, etc. Also on the app is the social media feed, announcements and anything else you need to stay connected.
2. Join the conversation! I don’t care if you’re a Social Media virgin or you’re trying to cutback in the hopes to “disconnect” and find peace with the universe. SHRM National is not the time to be unplugged. Search the #SHRM15 hashtag and follow the people/engage with the people who are talking about. This can be your temporary online community or, if you’re interested, they can be willing participants in your future online network.Going to #SHRM15? Join the conversation with this hashtag and build your posse. Click To Tweet
3. Schedule your day. There is nothing that SCREAMS wasted time like trying to navigate among swarms of people in a huge place AND figure out where you should be at the same time.
If you have problems walking long distances, focus your efforts in a specific area of the convention center in the mornings and then in the afternoons, and use escalators and elevators wisely.
If you have specific information you want to learn about, focus on those sessions. If you’re traveling with colleagues, don’t attend the same sessions they did. Instead, split up your resources and then plan a time to meet to discuss them.
If there is a particular speaker you wanted to meet and/or hear, plan your day around that session. Reach out to him/her on social media and ask if he/she has a presentation and/or another presenter to recommend that could supplement your learning.
Have a backup plan. Many sessions fill up and if you’re left without a backup session (and hopefully one near by), you’ll find you’ve wasted an entire 90 minutes.
4. Make time for non-scheduled time. (How is that for a conflicting piece of advice?) What I mean is make time in your day for regrouping. Give yourself open time to wander through the SHRM bookstore, the Exhibitor hall, the lobby, etc.
If you have colleagues you’d like to visit with, try to do so at this time so you’re not trying to catch up and/or socialize during a commute to another session or worse, during the session itself. Vegas doesn’t sleep – and trust me when I say there will ALWAYS be something to do but it’s important that you schedule some private time with yourself so you can mentally make it through your investment.
Sessions start at 7:00 am and go until 5:15 – that’s a lot to offer for you – but it’ll be worthless if you’re mentally spent by noon. That being said, IT IS OK to miss a happy hour. IT IS OK to go to an early morning session instead of meeting your work colleagues for breakfast. IT IS OK to skip out on dinner with your chapter and, instead, go for a walk or call your family back home.
5. Look up! You are going to be joining over 15,000 HR professionals! Regardless of whether you’re an introvert or an extravert, you’ll benefit from meeting them. They are bright, they are helpful, they are just as overwhelmed as you are at your job and more than likely, they have been in your shoes.
That being said, they may have a policy you can steal, they may know of a great vendor you should talk to, they may know of an HR candidate that would be great for your vacancy, etc. But you’ll never know if you don’t look up. Introduce yourself, engage with the person on your left and your right, and build your professional posse.
6. Take 30-50 minutes EVERY DAY of the conference to write yourself an email or to write your boss an email. I have found doing so is a good “accountable” moment. Remind yourself or tell your boss what you learned that day, what inspired you, what you’d like to research further, etc.
Remind yourself of a contact you met and what you want to speak with him/her about further, tell your boss about a presenter you met who would be great at the next organization’s team building event, or send a quick note to your colleague on your local chapter and share with him/her some ideas that you just gathered from the person you met on the escalator.
Trust me when I say that these simple emails solidify the conference! They help you put into perspective what you have learned and will serve to revive the momentum of the moment when you return to work. (Trust me, the perspective and excitement will be lost the minute you walk into the next session. Furthermore, if you wait until your plane ride home to absorb and process it all, it’s too late…the days you spent in Vegas will be a blur, regardless of how many cocktails you consumed.)Writing yourself or your boss a quick email before you leave a session will help revive the momentum when you… Click To Tweet
7. Have fun! Yes, this is work and yes, you paid (or your employer paid) a lot of money for you to be here but lighten up and enjoy the experience.
SHRM National is not for everyone. There are swarms of people, there are lines to the bathroom that go on and on (if you’re female), there are sessions that fill up before you get there, there is mediocre food, and it’s VEGAS so it’s somewhat obnoxious nearly everywhere.
Accept that these things are all part of the experience – lighten up and enjoy it!
8. Meet me! Seriously, reach out to me; I’d love to hear your story.