This past week, I did something that took me beyond my comfort zone; I expanded my world at my first ever-annual SHRM conference in Chicago. If you’re not an HR pro, you might be asking yourself, what is SHRM? SHRM stands for the Society for Human Resource Management. It is the world’s largest HR professional society. #SHRM18 was a trending hashtag on Twitter this past week. This year’s conference had a record turnout with more than 20,000 HR professionals in attendance, and I had the opportunity to be a part of it. This experience was ah-mazing! If I had a Top 10 reel of my career highlights, this experience would be in the top three! So let’s take a look at #SHRM18:
The learning opportunities were endless.
With over 200 sessions to choose from, there was something for everyone! I was very selective with the sessions I attended, and let me say, the early bird gets the worm. On early Monday morning, I attended a session on attracting, hiring, and retaining Veteran talent. This was one of my most favorite sessions of #SHRM18. Yes, I may be partial to our Armed Forces, and to not attend this session would go against my grain. I was impressed by the turn out of attendees in this session, and the speaker, Justin Constantine, was phenomenal. He made the session interactive and gave us real facts to take home. He talked about the four phases of Veteran employment, and they are: Discovery, Search, Transition, and Thrive. We looked at the Veteran Candidate Marketplace, and within this “marketplace”, more than 225,000 service members transition annually. There were so many golden nuggets in this session that in the end, it left me wanting more! Justin said it best in his closing thoughts, “ Good will is impactful but good business is the most important part of any Veteran hiring program”. Beyond this session there were so many good ones. From Steve Browne’s, Cultures that ROCK and HR on Purpose to Natasha Bowman’s, Beyond the Title, both sessions were packed full of HR pros eager to learn, be inspired, and leaving feeling all the feels. It was truly a once in a lifetime learning opportunity!
Be an encourager. The world has plenty of critics already. – Dave Willis
Connections turned into friendships.
Before I ever decided to attend #SHRM18, I met some pretty awesome HR pros on the Twitterbands. Just not in real life (IRL). Then, comes #SHRM18, and here we are connecting in a way that is hard to put into words. As I was leaving the airport from my flight in, I met someone who was similar to me. Her name was Jolene and she too was stretching beyond her comfort zone. We shared an Uber ride into Chicago and now she is one of the many people from this conference that has become my new friend. There is a quote that goes something like this, “Find your tribe. Love them hard.” In the several months leading up to the conference, I was reading a few opinions on the term, “tribe”. I bring this up, because I got to thinking about the term, and what it means to me. I believe we all have one. In fact, we have many (tribes that is). The #HRTribe is special and is like no other. The 20,000+ attendees who showed up to #SHRM18… this was the #HRTribe. We were there learning from one another, networking, and most of all; we were inspired by each other. I met some pretty awesome people this week from all over the country (and around the globe). The connections that were made were intentional, and when you can connect in this way, you make friendships that will last a lifetime!
My best advice coming off the heels of #SHRM18:
1) Get ready to take lots of selfies.
2) Meet as many people as you can before the conference, and find them.
3) Bring an empty water bottle and snacks (note: leave the KIND bar with chocolate on it behind, or stand up to eat it).
4) Stay at a hotel where there is SHRM shuttle access, you’ll save lots of $$ on Ubers (although I met some pretty cool Uber drivers – #LetsGetHenryOnTwitter)
5) If you can, stay the last night of the conference, you’ll get a glimpse of the beautiful city sights!
If I’m being honest, I went into this conference with a little apprehension. Because I was going on my own, while my family stayed behind, and I had no idea what to expect. For my first ever-annual SHRM conference, I am blown away by this experience. It more than exceeded my expectations, and I am truly blessed that I was given the opportunity to attend!