With a matter of days until heading to #ILSHRM18 & #OHSHRM18 I figured it was high time to share some tips & tricks of how to get the most out of attending a conference. From 19-21 September I’ll be at the Ohio SHRM Conference and then 23rd – 25th I’ll be at the Illinois SHRM Conference – I’m at both to speak about HR in Australia. So much conferencing and so much to learn! I now consider myself a seasoned conference pro and, having learned a few lessons along the way, (never, ever wear heels to a conference unless you’re a serial-wearer and can stomach the foot pain,) thought I’d share some of my favourite tips.
Seasoning for seasoned-professionals
Conferences are what you make them. Yes, amazing headline speakers (of which #ILSHRM18 & #OHSHRM18 deliver in spades) are often the major draw-card, but the real value I believe they deliver is having an opportunity to get yourself out of your day-to-day headspace, creating opportunities to think about problems and solutions differently, and sharing the awesomeness of your profession with other attendees. It’s incredible what you can learn waiting in the line for the bathroom!
What are some basic do’s and don’t’s for a HR Conference?
Do: bring a phone charger, find out where to get the best coffee and talk to as many people as you can. Have a look at the agenda ahead of time and mark your ‘must sees’. I like to have an element of flexibility but if there’s a have-to-attend you don’t want to miss out because you decided that was the best time to line up at Starbucks!
Don’t: wear new shoes (very important) or get hung up on planning out every second of your experience. The gold always comes from something you didn’t expect.
I get the most out of conferences when I talk to as many people as possible, although I find it daunting to rock up to new people and strike up a conversation I know that when I do I meet the most interesting people.
An easy way to start that conversation? Asking people about what brought them to the conference – often there’s a particular challenge/area of interest where you can find common experience. If that fails, find out whether they’re a cat or a dog person. You can then dismiss them entirely based on their response (you know there’s a correct one).
I’m also excited about the opportunity to visit Ohio (I’ve never been) and head back to Chicago (favourite city ever).
Hope to see you there!