Industry conferences are an opportunity for education, connection, and inspiration—and the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) Annual Conference & Exposition is no exception. From compelling keynote speakers and the exposition exhibits to the 200 available learning sessions, the conference has a lot to offer for HR professionals. At the same time, large events like this can fall short of expectations if you attend without the right strategy to maximize your time. Taking the following steps will ensure a positive and productive experience at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference.
1. Set Specific Goals
When it comes to industry events, trying to participate in every aspect can lead to burnout before the event is over. At the same time, the lack of clear direction may result in the feeling that little was accomplished by your attendance. The first step to a successful conference experience is to set clear, specific objectives before you arrive.
Whether your main purpose is to further your understanding of current issues in human resources or expand your professional network, keeping these goals in mind will make it easier not only to plan your conference schedule but also to take advantage of the opportunities that are the most valuable for you and your organization.
2. Plan to Connect
Conferences like the SHRM Annual Conference provide a convenient way to expand your professional network as well as build on existing relationships—especially when in-person meetings would otherwise be difficult to arrange. In the fast-paced and often fluid environment of the conference, the best way to guarantee these key connections happen is to schedule them in advance.
The community section of the SHRM Annual Conference website offers a range of ways to connect with others prior to the show and plan in-person meetings. The attendee directory gives you a way to contact other conference goers, while the discussion forum offers further opportunities to engage with colleagues.
3. Prepare to Learn
This year’s conference again features almost 200 educational sessions, divided into nine different themed tracks you can choose from based on your HR specialty or areas of concern for your organization. Reorganized for the 2019 conference, topics include workplace strategy, technology, compliance, communication, and more. To find the right learning sessions for you (and stay on top of HR developments while earning certification credits), you can use the Session Planner to sort and filter the daily options and the “My Calendar” feature to create your personalized learning plan.
4. Scope out the Exhibits
With hundreds of exhibitors, the SHRM Exposition can be a lot to take in, especially for new attendees. Fortunately, the website for the conference offers a list of exhibiting companies as well as a map of the exposition floor. These two tools make it possible to create a plan for your visit that includes stops at all of the most important booths, including all of the organizations and products you are most interested in previewing. This way, you won’t run out of time or energy before checking out the most important exhibits—and you’ll still have time to explore booths that capture your attention at the conference.
5. Leave Time for Spontaneity
One of the most unique advantages of live industry events is the potential for unexpected opportunities for both personal and business development. From connections made on the exposition floor to chance meetings at conference networking events, it’s impossible to predict what may arise. You’ll definitely want to schedule in the learning sessions that are of interest to you and make time to take in the exhibits, but leaving some open time in your schedule will allow you to take advantage of connections you weren’t expecting.
The 2019 SHRM Annual Conference, and industry events like it, offer a range of ways to advance your own HR career and improve your organization’s HR program. Setting clear goals, scheduling key meetings and learning sessions, and planning your visit to the exposition floor are some of the best steps you can take to maximize your experience and productivity at the conference.Will you be at the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference? Visit CareerArc at booth 2416 and learn about our social recruiting and outplacement services! We’ll have a photo booth where you can pose for fun conference photos—solo or with new and old friends.