As 15,000 HR professionals descend on New Orleans for the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) Annual Conference & Expo on June 12, the HR world is buzzing with excitement. This is the greatest annual HR event in the country, with industry experts and innovators ready to teach you more about employment law, legislation, technology, strategic management, and leadership development. Whether you are attending to level up your skills, or to network with other HR professionals from all over the world, this conference is going to be amazing!
Events this size can be overwhelming and leave you unsure where to start, especially when the lineup includes guest speakers like President George W. Bush and Arianna Huffington. With so many things going on at once, we recommend a little planning to get the most out of this adventure.
1. Research and Download
Start with a plan by looking through the SHRM website. Review the schedule-at-a-glance to identify particular sessions you’ll get the most out of. Remember that some of the most popular concurrent sessions are repeated Monday and Tuesday, so if you miss one time slot, you can catch it again. Download the conference app (iOS or Android) to help you organize your schedule and connect with other conference-goers. The SHRM Annual Conference Networking & Events Facebook group is a super helpful (yet unofficial) community where you might find lively discussions and events. To stay up to date on what is going on, as well as any changes, follow appropriate social media accounts. Keep yourself organized by having a tablet or laptop you can easily access.
2. Be Flexible
There are 30 “Mega Sessions” and 189 “Concurrent Sessions.” No one can do it all, so be sure to leave a little room in your schedule and be open to change. You may want to linger at a booth that catches your eye on the expo floor or spend a little time making new friends in the hallway, rather than listening to the Mega Session you planned. The connections you make are important, so don’t sweat it if you get a little off schedule. There are so many growth opportunities happening all at once, you are bound to miss a few things and that’s OK. Leave room in your plans for those unexpected changes, new opportunities, and even some time for general exploration.
3. Make the Most of Unwinding in the Evenings
There’s a lot going on all at once, so it is important to take notes, and keep all the assets you’ve collected organized, or your bag will be overflowing with business cards littering the streets of New Orleans like it is Mardi Gras! At the end of each day, review all the flyers, speeches, and information you’ve been privy to that day, and see what is relevant for use after SHRM. If you’ve made some connections, be sure to connect with them via LinkedIn while you’re winding down each evening, and then set a reminder when to reach out to them via email later–it’s always good to have a personalized follow-up handy. You’ll thank yourself when you get back home!
4. Stay Informed from Beginning to End
Start the conference off by attending the official orientation Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. This event is presented by SHRM and is a prime opportunity to start meeting people and get a bigger picture of what is to come at the expo. Also on Sunday, the Expo Opening Reception networking event is 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. where drinks and appetizers will be served. Just as you were there from the start, we suggest being there at the end. This year’s closing session is headlined by President George W. Bush and President and CEO of SHRM, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. Bush will be there to discuss his time in the Oval Office and the challenges facing our nation today. It starts at 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday – you won’t want to miss it!
5. Have Fun Outside the Expo
With the constant craziness of the expo, sometimes it is good to set up appointments for both serious business, and fun outside the conference. This is New Orleans after all, and it’s a great opportunity to set up one-on-one meetings and make deeper connections while enjoying the sights and sounds of NOLA. Some of your most memorable moments will take place outside the walls of the convention center. Café Du Mond anyone? And if you are traveling alone or just not sure what to do, check out the SHRM Annual Conference Networking & Events Facebook group, as well as the SHRM Twitter for events and connections.
Work hard, play hard! While this is a prime opportunity to gain knowledge, learn, get inspired, and network, don’t forget to enjoy the experience. The culture of New Orleans is vibrant, and Bourbon Street is a constant party. Attend conference-related parties, make new friends, and soak it all in to have the complete experience.
Making the most of SHRM 2022 is more than just bouncing from booth-to-booth. We hope you enjoy the Big Easy and say hello to KRESS if you see us on Bourbon Street.