For the next week, as thousands of HR professionals from around the country and world converge on Chicago for the 2013 SHRM Annual Conference and Expo, Women of HR will be joining them and featuring all things SHRM Annual related…
As I mentioned here yesterday, this weekend I’ll be heading to Chicago for the #SHRM13 Annual Conference and Expo. Many of you may be joining me; for some of you it may be your first time, others of you may be SHRM Annual veterans. No matter if it’s your first time or tenth time attending, I ask you this question: Are you maximizing your conference experience?
There is an abundance of information to be learned and knowledge to be shared at the conference, and what you get out of it is largely based on what you put into it. Are you there going through the motions and playing it safe in your comfort zone, or are you making a concerted effort to obtain the maximum benefit from your experience? Here are a few of my tips for ensuring you get the most from your time in Chicago.
Take some time to plan out your schedule. Review the list of concurrent sessions available, and target the ones you know you want to attend that you think will provide you the most value. But leave yourself some flexibility to change your mind, and have back up plans in place: anyone who has attended before knows that some sessions will fill up, and you may need to move on to your second choice. Furthermore, if the session you choose doesn’t meet your expectations or isn’t what you thought it would be, don’t be afraid to walk out and join another session! This is your time, don’t waste it in a session that does nothing for you. And don’t feel guilty about it.
Sure, you could choose to attend sessions on topics familiar to you and stick with your comfort zone. But with so many topics across 7 different tracks, why not expose yourself to something new? This is your chance to expand your horizons beyond the scope of your everyday job. Why not choose a mix of sessions that both enhance your current knowledge and also stretch your mind a bit?
Don’t Try To Do It All
This may seem to go against convention, but don’t feel as if you have to pack your schedule every day. It’s okay if you decide you don’t want to attend a session during one of the time frames. Allow yourself some downtime to process what you’ve learned and recharge when you need it.
Some of the most valuable takeaways from your conference experience could come from the connections you make in the hallways between sessions, in the expo hall, or at the multitude of social events that will take place over the course of the four days. Take advantage of the other HR pros that are there; there is a wealth of knowledge to be shared beyond the official sessions. Talk to people. Make new connections. You never know how valuable they could be some day. Instead of just going back to your hotel at the end of the day, attend some of the sponsored socials and parties; they are a great way to connect with people in a more relaxed atmosphere….and you may have a little fun while you’re at it!
Most of all, enjoy your experience. Good luck, learn a lot, and have fun!