SHRM conference 2016

How to Make the Most Out of #SHRM16

The #SHRM16 Annual Conference and Exposition is just around the corner and the team here at Newton is ecstatic to get out to DC. Seeing as we will be participating as both attendees and exhibitors (come see us at Booth # 3005!), we have spent the past few weeks preparing to guarantee that we make the most of our trip. As we have been going through this process, we realized that documenting our own tips and tricks for preparation could serve as a useful reference resource for all #SHRM16 attendees. For this reason, we have put together a quick guide on how to get the most out of your #SHRM16 experience.

Pre-Conference

Packing List

Comfortable Shoes 

If there’s one thing that we know about conferences, it’s that you are going to constantly be on your feet. Whether walking to and from your hotel, navigating amongst the various venues, networking with peers and vendors, or checking out the sights of DC, it is essential that the shoes you wear offer the comfort level that you need (you may want to reconsider those heels).

Gum or Mints

Conferences can get loud. In order to hear each other, we often stand closer than normal. Keep your focus on the conversation, not on whether or not your coffee/lunch breath is noticeable. Also, offering gum or mints serves as a great icebreaker.

Coffee 

Let’s be real, coffee is the fuel that keeps most of us going (power to all the non-caffeine super-humans out there!). As such you will want to be sure that you have plenty to power you through the eventful days at #SHRM16.

If you are traveling light, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Visit us at Booth # 3005 where we will be offering up free java at our “Compliance Coffee Bar.”

Smartwatch

With hundreds of events and talks running simultaneously, it can be easy to get side-tracked. You will want a smartwatch to efficiently track time, keep you updated on your schedule, and offer you any notifications relevant to the event.

Don’t currently have a smartwatch? Come by Booth # 3005 where we will be raffling off a free Apple Watch to one lucky #SHRM16 attendee!

Business Cards 

You can do all the networking in the world but if people don’t remember your name then they will have no way to get in touch with you. Business cards may be “old school,” but telling people to add you on LinkedIn just doesn’t carry the same weight as handing them a physical business card.

Notebook (with holder for business cards) and a Pen

There is so much information, ideas and thoughts that you will be consuming and generating at #SHRM16 that you simply can’t absorb it all without jotting down some notes. Be sure to bring along a pad and pen to document the key insights from your #SHRM16 experience.

Make a List of Speakers, Sessions and Series That Interest You

The biggest mistake that you can make when attending #SHRM16 is going in blind. There will literally be hundreds of sessions to choose from, and if you show up with no agenda, you will undoubtedly miss out on some great speakers that will be providing key insights and take-aways. For this reason, before leaving for #SHRM16, it is vital that you at least look through the various sessions, series and workshops and begin to put together a list of events that you would like to attend. Not only will this enable you to make more efficient use of your time while at #SHRM16, but it will also help you to begin to identify key topics and areas that you would like to focus on learning more about.

Insider Tip: As you begin putting together your #SHRM16 list, we recommend checking out SHRM’s resource center here, where you can search amongst the different program offerings. Additionally, you can download the #SHRM16 app which offers access to the conference schedule, speaker profiles, exhibitor information, event center maps, networking event logistics and features enabling you to network with other attendees.

Using the above resources, we have put together Newton’s list of events that we are hoping to attend:

Introduction to SHRM

Compliance

HR / Recruiting

Diversity

General

We Like to Unwind and Have Fun Too!

Make a list of Vendors/Suppliers That Interest You

SHRM defines the exposition as “the nerve center of the conference,” and for good reason too. When you step on that floor, you can feel the energy pulse through your body. However, with hundreds of vendors vying for your attention, and thousands more attendees bustling about, this energy can quickly become overwhelming to the unprepared attendee.

To avoid the stress and confusion, you need to have a gameplan walking in. Before leaving for #SHRM16, evaluate your internal environment and identify those areas of your business that you think can be improved. What key challenges do you currently face and will there be exhibitors at #SHRM16 that can offer you solutions? To know, check out the floor plan and expo directory here and identify the key exhibitors that you would like to speak with beforehand. If you are looking for a specific service or product, be sure to identify at least several vendors in the space so that you can develop a good feel for that market. Also, do a little research on the exhibitors beforehand and come prepared with a list of questions that you need answered. This is crucial to focus your energy and make the most of your time on the expo floor.

Reach out to Your Network to See Who is Going to be Attending

Beyond the sessions and the expo floor, another crucial aspect of #SHRM16 is networking. There is no other collection of as many like minded peers, experts and influencers, so be sure to connect with as many people as possible. Send out a note to your networks beforehand and let them know that you will be attending. #SHRM16 offers a great chance to reconnect with former colleagues, peers and business partners.

In-Conference

Now that you have a gameplan, it is time to take #SHRM16 head-on. The key to doing so is immersing yourself. Remember, #SHRM16 only happens once a year, and there is no other event like it, so make the most of it! Below are a few tricks to ensure that you do so:

Stick to your schedule (well sort of…)

You now have an idea of the sessions that you would like to attend, so plan your days around them! However, keep in mind that there will be tons of great discussions at #SHRM16. Do not hesitate to take a detour from your schedule if there is a particular event that really catches your eye!

Listen actively and take notes

It is easy to become a passive listener while sitting in on seminars for large portions of the day. To avoid doing so, be sure to be an attentive listener and take notes. Also, constantly be formulating ideas and questions based off of what you hear. Some speakers may ask for questions and this is when the best discussions often take place.

Attend #SHRM16 alone for at least part of the conference

Chances are that you are traveling with colleagues or meeting peers at #SHRM16. This is great. After all, the social aspect of conventions is what makes them so unique and awesome. However, if you stick around the same crowd the entire time, your experiences will be limited and you won’t get the opportunity to connect with as many people. Spend some time navigating the conference alone. The best discovery often occurs when you push outside of your comfort zone!

Set aside time to speak with vendors

If you have identified specific vendors and suppliers that you believe may provide solutions to your business, be sure to set aside time to speak with them. Because the expo floor is so massive, it can be intimidating. However, once you spark up a conversation with a vendor, the mood often becomes far more relaxed. Share your challenges with those exhibitors from your list and listen to see how their solution may help to solve your problem. Ask them the questions that you have prepared and any others that you may have generated based on what they are saying. Lastly, be sure to take notes on what they tell you. #SHRM16 is so jam-packed, once the conference ends, it will be impossible to recall what different exhibitors communicated to you.

Don’t be afraid to spark up a conversation

Conferences can be tough for those of us who are shy. However, to get the most out of them, you absolutely must engage in conversation. Don’t forget that everyone is at #SHRM16 for the same reasons as you. Finding some common ground will be easy and once the conversation is flowing, talking business, sharing insights, and networking will come naturally. Still intimidated? Just remember that the SHRM community is one of the friendliest business organizations in the world!

Lastly….

Just have fun with it! You will be in an incredible city, at a great conference, surrounded by awesome, intelligent, and passionate people. Absorb as much as you can because there really is no downside to #SHRM16!

Post-Conference

There is a common phenomenon amongst major conferences where they seem to disappear into a vacuum after they conclude. This is unfortunate because they often cultivate so many great ideas, lessons, and new strategies. To ensure that your experience at #SHRM16 doesn’t end when the conference itself concludes, follow these post-conference tips:

  • Continue to build and reflect upon the lessons that you learned and use this as fuel for your professional development.
  • Take the insights that you gained and bring them back to share with your team.
  • Picked up some cool new ideas or strategies? Don’t just be a trend watcher. Try implementing them at your own organization!
  • Follow up with any vendors/suppliers that impressed you.
  • Connect with or follow the speakers and influencers that you listened to.
  • Keep up with the network of people that you met there.
  • Be sure to register for next year’s conference!

Connect With Us at #SHRM16!

As we mentioned above, we will be attending #SHRM16 and we can’t wait to connect with all of you! If you are interested in learning more about our industry-leading applicant tracking system, Paycor’s robust suite of payroll and HR software, want to say hi, or even just need a free coffee pick-me-up, stop by our “Coffee Compliance Booth,” #3005 on the expo floor.

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