Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
If you’re in the HR profession, then you probably know the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference is approaching. This year’s event will be held both virtually and in-person June 12-15, 2022, in New Orleans. I love NOLA, it’s a great city. I’m really looking forward to the educational opportunities and seeing colleagues that I haven’t spent time with over the past couple of years. Hopefully, I will also be launching my new book “The SHRM Essential Guide to Talent Management” in the SHRM bookstore.
It’s been a while since I’ve attended a huge conference like SHRM Annual so I thought I would put together a list to prepare for the event and share it with everyone.
BEFORE YOU GO
- Have a health safety plan. While we are continuing to resume normal activities, the COVID pandemic is still with us. Just this week, I’ve had two colleagues tell me that they got it despite being vaccinated, boosted, and wearing masks. I’m not saying this to scare or anger anyone. But we need to plan for being in a large group of people. SHRM has outlined their COVID preparations on the conference website. Be sure to check it out.
- Download the conference app. If you’re looking for copies of handouts and special announcements, it will all be in the app. You could wait and download it onsite. There will be WiFi during the conference, but it’s not like your WiFi at the office or home. So, download the SHRM Events app before you leave (available for iOS and Android). That will spare your data plan for more important stuff.
- Download the SHRM Certification app before you leave. If you are a certified professional and have a mobile device, make life easy on yourself and download the SHRM Certification mobile app. You can track recertification points as you earn them.
- Bring a shipping label to mail stuff home to yourself. The expo hall is also the home to all kinds of conference swag. If you’re concerned about your luggage hitting the weight limit, just print off a shipping label and mail stuff home. I’ve done this many times! If you don’t use it, that’s great. At least you have it as a backup plan.
- Start following the Twitter stream – #SHRM22. I know that not everyone is a fan of Twitter, but conferences and events are one of the things Twitter continues to do well. Dust off your Twitter account before you leave and save the hashtag. It’s a way to follow the action. You might get some ideas about a session to attend, a book to purchase, or someplace fun to meet and eat (remember, we’re in New Orleans).
ON THE TRIP
- Plan your schedule but save some time for impromptu meetings. There’s a delicate balance between sticking to a schedule and taking advantage of last-minute opportunities. If you’re a scheduling freak like me, I block off free time to use for last minute meetings (or sneaking off for an afternoon cold brew! Or maybe a burger run!!)
- Some of the best sessions are the early ones! I know a trip to New Orleans wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of partying. But I can tell you from experience, some of the best sessions are early in the morning. I know I’ll be grabbing a venti dirty chai to make the “Transgender Inclusion: What it Means, Why it Matters, and What You Can Do to Be an Ally” session at 7:30a on Tuesday, June 14.
- Check out at least one session on the Smart Stage. SHRM has their own version of TED Talks – it’s called the Smart Stage. The sessions are short (less than 20 minutes) and they take on a more conversational tone. I’m hoping to hear Alex Alonso’s session on “Talking Taboo: Making the Most of Polarizing Discussions at Work” on Tuesday, June 14 at 3:30p.
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
- Check out conference orientation. If you haven’t been to SHRM Annual before or just want to reacquaint yourself with what the event has to offer, conference orientation is the way to do it. It’s taking place on Sunday, June 12 at 10:30a. Not only will you leave with ideas on how to spend your time, but you might make some new connections as well.
- Use the bookstore as a central meeting location. Every time I’m at a conference, there’s always at least one moment where someone says, “Where should we meet?” The answer? Right in front of the SHRM Store. Works every time because it’s easy to find and most people already know where it is. And, while you’re waiting, you can check out the excellent books and resources they have available.
- Take care of yourself. In addition to taking pandemic precautions, we can’t forget to monitor our general health. Especially if we haven’t been going to conferences in a while. Drink plenty of water. Wear comfy shoes. Bring lip balm and skin moisturizer. The conference is supposed to energize you. And if that also means finding a little quiet time for yourself, do that too!
- EXPO! Last but certainly not least, I cannot say enough how important it is to visit the vendors in the expo hall. These organizations are the reason that SHRM can continue to secure awesome speakers and keep registration prices affordable. Exhibitors and sponsors offset those costs for us. So, take a little time to walk around the expo and check out the latest HR products and services.
The SHRM Annual Conference and Expo offers a lot of education, networking, and fun for professionals looking to stay current with what’s happening in the profession. And I’m not just saying that because I’m going. Every year, it continues to amaze me. Hope you can join us in NOLA!
P.S. If you want to get a jump-start on your learning experience, join me for a pre-conference educational program. I’ll be facilitating “People Analytics: Taking Data-Driven Action” starting Saturday, June 11, 2022. For more details, check out the SHRM Annual Conference site. The program is pre-approved for professional development credit and is part of the requirements for the People Analytics Specialty Credential.18