So, I am up in the air, on my way to my first ever SHRM National Conference. I am giddy with excitement about meeting with so many of my tweeps in real life, about the experience in general, about the new connections that I plan to make, the sessions I plan to attend, and just talking and hearing about HR in general. As somebody who has never need to a SHRM National Conference, I can't give you first-hand advice on what to expect, see, do, or not do while you are there, but here I can give you some pointers on how I am approaching my first time in Vegas and my first time at SHRM National.
1) Open Your Mind - Don't go to the conference with any pre-conceived notions or expectations. I am sure you have probably read more than enough about other's experiences and recommendations but I advise going with an open mind and letting the experience envelope you. Be a little spontaneous and allow the moments to guide you. While you are there to learn, you are also there to experience the atmosphere. Don't be so serious about getting to all of those sessions. Go where the spirit takes you. You never know what you may discover.
2) Don't Session Out - Speaking of sessions, I would imagine that it is very easy to get overwhelmed by the shear number of offerings at SHRM National . With more than 200 sessions to choose from, it is easy to become slave to the sessions. Pick the top 3 - 5 that you simply can't miss and then be a bit more spontaneous with the other session offerings. There is no way that you can get to everything and if you miss a session, it's not the end of the world. If you were smart, you did like I did and bought the add-on package that allows you access to the sessions via webinars for 90 days after the conference. The conference isn't just about the sessions, it is about the experience and the connections you will make. Make good use of your time.
3) Connect - Speaking of connections. There is no better place, that I can imagine, to make connections that at SHRM National. Here you are, with thousands of other HR professionals from all over the world, in one space. Leverage that! Take the time to meet people, to make REAL connections. I think today we are so caught up in the world of Social Media (me alike) that we lose sight of the real life connections that are still oh so important. Take this opportunity to remember what it was like to actually meet people and have real conversations. You never know what opportunities may open up for you or what discoveries you will make. Just remember to make those connections real.
4) Have Fun - This is probably my biggest piece of advice. I mean, we are in the City of Sin after all, right? Take time to explore Vegas. Go to some meet-ups. Get to know the personal side of people. That is how we make real connections. We find common ground, talk about what is important and meaningful to us. Through that, we find others that have the same interests/experience/background. And hopefully, through that, you make those real connections we talked about. HR peeps tend to be so uptight and serious (in our jobs) that we often need a reminder that it is ok for us to let loose and just have fun. It's ok. Enjoy yourself. Come on...this is Vegas, remember?!
I'm looking forward to what I will learn, who I will meet, and the experience as a whole. If I don't get to every sessions, that's ok...it's not the end of the world. What is more important for me on this trip is being able to make some more meaningful connections and just soaking it all in.
Here's to living in the moment!