In June 2018, I attended my first SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition (#SHRM18) without knowing what to expect. SHRM stands for The Society of Human Resource Management and is the largest HR professional society in the world. With over 300,000 members worldwide and serving as the leading provider of resources that help professionals do their best at work, there is something to be said about its conferences.
Even though I had been an active member of SHRM, I only ventured into the conference arena last year. The theme of #SHRM18 was “Expand Your World.” I’m happy to share that I’ve been expanding my world! In less than a year, I have had experiences that have shaped me as an HR professional. From writing for the SHRM Blog to having access to HR mentors, and connecting with HR experts and influencers from across the world, #SHRM18 left me a lasting impression. In terms of logistics, I was in awe of how thoroughly planned that conference was for its over 18,000 attendees. It was a great experience, and I haven’t stopped talking about it.
This June, SHRM will be holding its 2019 Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19) in Las Vegas with the theme, Creating Better Workplaces. This time, I have been offered a tremendous opportunity to attend the conference as a member of the SHRM Blog Squad. This means that we will be creating content about the conference, generating excitement, and sharing our articles with those who are either making plans to attend or those who cannot be there but will like to stay updated. So, I will be sharing my interviews with some of the conference speakers and vendors, and my thoughts about the overall experience. Stay tuned!
Since I’m making plans to attend this conference, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on my experience at #SHRM18 and share my ideas about what to expect at SHRM19, particularly for first-time attendees. In my opinion, there is nothing more professionally-rewarding than being in the same location as other HR professionals who share the common goal of creating better workplaces.
These are some reasons to look forward to #SHRM19:
- Opportunity for Continuous Learning: The HR profession is ever-changing and always evolving to meet the demands of society and our workplaces. As HR professionals, we need competencies that can position us to handle those workplace challenges, and be actual resources for resolving them. At the 2019 SHRM Annual Conference and Exposition (#SHRM19), there are almost 200 sessions for HR professionals at different stages in their careers. These sessions are grouped into nine new and relevant tracks—Workplace Strategy, Technology, Business Acumen & Metrics, Compliance, Global HR, Leadership, Communication, Talent, and Compensation & Benefits. #SHRM19 is an opportunity for HR professionals to stay current with industry trends, discover new business strategies, and learn ways to implement them in our respective roles.
- Re-energize Yourself: I believe that it takes superhuman qualities to be in HR. Our profession demands that we sacrifice ourselves for our people and organizations, and requires a lot of personal commitment and involvement. Simply put, we are prone to burnout because of the emotional drain that we experience regularly. At #SHRM19, you will realize that you are not alone and that there is help for you. For example, I know HR professionals who are Departments of One (HRDOO), that found #SHRM18 helpful in connecting with other HRDOOs. Being among people with like minds and experiences can be re-energizing. You can expect to receive best practices from speakers or advice from fellow attendees that you can apply. #SHRM19 is undoubtedly the right opportunity for you to re-energize yourself and reignite your enthusiasm for this great profession.
- Networking: Personally, #SHRM18 gave me a new perspective on networking. Everywhere and anytime was an opportunity to network. #SHRM18 was different from other networking events I had been to because it took the pressure off being evaluated on my networking skills. Networking just happened effortlessly— in the hallways while walking to our sessions, on the lines waiting to grab coffee or lunch, in Uber rides and Shuttle buses from the conference center, by phone charging stations, by restroom sinks, or even in our hotel lobbies. I found myself chatting with people, exchanging business cards, or immediately connecting with them on LinkedIn. For #SHRM19, come prepared to network with people but don’t force it. It is about the quality of interactions, not quantity. One good professional relationship can change your world.
- New Vendors, New Solutions: A significant part of the conference experience is the Exposition Hall which exhibits thousands of products and services that offer solutions to workplace challenges. These vendors showcase their products and services and are always prepared to answer your questions. At #SHRM19, you can expect to learn about innovations, or find solutions to those challenges you are facing with recruitment, onboarding, performance management, wellness, learning and development, compliance, and more! #SHRM19 is your opportunity to establish connections with vendors which may lead to future client relationships. If you are a vendor, this is also your opportunity to learn about what solutions your competitors are offering and the ways to stay ahead of the market.
- Recertification Credits: It is one thing to pass your certification exam, but it is another to maintain it. If you have an HR certification, you need to earn credits toward your recertification as a way of demonstrating continuous learning. Otherwise, you will have to retake the exam after three years. At #SHRM19, your attendance can earn you over 17 Professional Development Credits (PDCs) toward the recertification of your designated HR credential. How awesome is it to get so many recertification credits from one conference?
- Make New Friends or Reconnect with Old Friends: Many real friendships have come out of SHRM’s conferences. Like I discussed earlier, people connect over anything. Friendships could start after realizing that you live in the same city, state, or country as another HR professional, or that you work in the same industry, or that you are experiencing similar life events. At #SHRM19, you have an opportunity to reconnect with your friends or to make new friends. Either way, you will find it particularly rewarding that you have friends to share in your experience.
- Have Fun: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! As HR professionals, we lead busy lives and sacrifice much of ourselves for our workplaces. To create better workplaces, we need to make ourselves better first. So, at #SHRM19, we will have an opportunity to have fun during the Tuesday night concert. The concert is something to look forward to because the legendary singer and songwriter, Lionel Richie, will be with us to get us singing and dancing All Night Long.
- It’s in Las Vegas!
Let’s make this journey toward creating better workplaces worthwhile. I hope you attend, and I look forward to connecting with you in Las Vegas!
~ This article is also posted on the SHRM Blog.