Making the most of the Conference

One of the most gratifying elements of the HR field is the chance to meet and learn from unique individuals from all over. Perhaps the largest gathering of HR minds, the SHRM 2017 Annual Conference & Exposition, is right around the corner. (This weekend, in fact!) A plethora of information and ideas awaits, with over 15,000 estimated attendees bringing their knowledge and experience. The sheer volume of information can be a lot to take in, whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned vet. Going in with the right mindset will help you make the most of the trip and ensure you walk away with some new tricks.

Make a Plan

Whether you’ll be flying solo or wading through the conference as part of a team, having a game plan ahead of time is important. Be sure to include things like travel and accommodations in your planning. A setback such as a missed flight, for example, would almost guarantee getting less value from your trip. Know ahead of time which speakers you want to hear from and get there early! This conference is huge, and things will definitely fill up quickly.

Stick to it!

Once you’ve got a plan in place, keep it handy. Whether you prefer using your smartphone (the app is great!) or the old fashioned route of pen and paper, keep your notes accessible so you know what is going on and when. Remember, there is a lot happening at any given time. Try not to get distracted and get where you need to be. It’s better to get there early and then network a little bit than to linger too long and be late to your next event!

Expect the Unexpected

It’s hard to predict the future, so take some time to think about what might pop up unexpectedly. Setbacks like traffic and weather are hard to plan for, but knowing ahead of time how to deal with them might just save you from missing out. It’s a fast paced event with a lot of moving parts, so anything that does go wrong means that thousands of folks will also be scrambling!

Now that you’ve got your playbook ready, travel and hotel booked, and your eyes on the prize, here are a few quick reminders before you take off:

  • Pack your phone/tablet/laptop chargers – Don’t be stuck without any juice! Odds are you wouldn’t be the only one among the 15,000 or so attendees, and it might prove a challenge finding one to borrow or buy.
  • Check the weather – Keep an eye on the forecast each day, because running back to your room to change clothes or shoes will only cut into the time you get to spend learning and networking.
  • Enjoy your downtime – Don’t forget to take a little time for yourself, whether it be sleeping in one morning or simply wandering the event just to take it all in. It’s going to be an information-packed few days; try to keep a clear head so you can absorb as much as possible!

It’s going to be a great time at SHRM17, and beautiful New Orleans (my hometown!) has so very much to offer. If you’re attending and would like to meet up please contact me! Looking forward to learning alongside some of the best in the industry!

Thanks for reading!

Meredith