Two weeks from now I’ll be in Washington, D.C. at SHRM16 – the annual conference and exposition put on by SHRM. I’m tangibly geeked to be going once again, and I can’t wait to swim amid the sea of people who attend from all over the globe.
I look forward to every aspect of the Conference. There are great keynote presentations, a diverse and full set of concurrent sessions that run throughout the whole event, the SHRM Smart Stage that features TED type talks, the fabulous SHRM Store and the incredible vendor hall !! I’m sure it sounds like I’m a SHRM devotee, and I don’t apologize for that at all. I’ve chosen to take in the whole conference because it enhances my experience and I encourage you to do the same. I try to look at the whole event as “new” so that I don’t have certain filters or misconceptions creep in. Every Annual Conference has it’s own nuances and dynamics that keep it fresh for me.
One aspect that is both new and familiar is the people. There will be many folks who are attending for the first time. I love seeing these rookies. The event can be overwhelming if you let it, but there are ways to make it accessible and inviting. Don’t get swallowed by the scale of everything. Instead, plan ahead and be intentional about what you’d like to do and who you’d like to see speak. Stretch your boundaries and don’t just go to sessions that mimic your current role. See what else is out there.
The other group of people I’m REALLY excited to see !! Those are the people who come often. Some of these great people are ones I’ve “grown up” with through SHRM volunteering including many SHRM staff. Others are friends from Social Media who always add life and a fresh perspective to everything. Most have become lifelong friends – literally. This isn’t an exaggeration or an overstatement. I have met people at SHRM Annual events that I talk to and see often and on purpose. They have enriched my life in ways they may not even realize. Seeing these folks makes the event priceless !!
So, I have a challenge for you that you may not have considered before attending SHRM16. I want you to go because of one reason – for the people. Seriously.
We are in a tough industry and in challenging roles. Often, we have very few people we can talk to internally in our organizations. How much better would it be for you if you had people you could reach out to as a resource, and even better as a friend?
You may scoff at this, but I continue to be amazed by the hundreds, if not thousands, of HR pros who pass each other as quickly as possible at HR conferences without interacting with one other peer. For some reason we think our recertification hours, or hearing some speaker, will provide the silver bullet we need to get out of the situations we’re dealing with at work. What we miss is that the people passing by you are IN THE SAME FIELD AS YOU !! They may be facing what you’re facing, or they may have been through it themselves. If you happen to get out of your normal pattern and introduce yourself, who knows where it could lead?
Trust me when I say that the whole Conference rocks, and it even gets better when you connect with the people who are there with you. Be intentional about this !! Make sure to meet at least five new people. Go to sessions with them. Walk through the vendor hall with them. Go to dinner with them. Don’t let someone be a straggler. Bring them in and include them. I plan to meet as many folks as possible, but I’m an incurable extrovert. You should meet as many folks as you feel comfortable doing.
Always remember – In HR, and as humans, we are better together !! Go to SHRM16 for the people !!