Surviving SHRM: A Guide for First-Timers

As many of us know, SHRM 2018 is fast approaching. With over 12,000+ people in attendance every year, SHRM is by far the largest gathering of HR professionals in the world. That’s why for many, it’s a can’t-miss event. From the HR-star-studded speaker sessions, to the award-winning entertainment, SHRM feels more like a non-stop party than a four-day conference.

SEE ALSO: Top Voices at SHRM 2017

Last year’s gathering in New Orleans was my first time attending SHRM and I gained way more knowledge and insights than I anticipated. For those of you traveling to Chicago for your first SHRM conference, here are a few tips on how to survive and get the most out of your experience.

SHRM is Huge

When I heard that this was the largest gathering of HR professionals on the globe, I thought, ok, that’s impressive, but how many HR professionals are there really? Turns out, the answer is a lot. The most shocking thing about this conference for me is always the size. Sure, there are tons of booths and vendors, but the number of working professionals is staggering.

Because of the conference’s magnitude, it is important to scope out the expo space ahead of time to plan your routes. You can find a map of the exhibitors hall here in order to find out where your favorite vendors will be located. This map also includes information about all of the booths if you click on each booth, so it’s a good way to prepare yourself if you are looking to learn about new technologies and services. (We’re booth #1721, by the way.)

Scope out the expo hall ahead of time for the best #SHRM18 experience. Click To Tweet

Plan Your Speaker Sessions

Because of the massive attendance, SHRM provides over 200 concurrent sessions for you to learn about a myriad of topics ranging from HR benefits, to coaching, to personal branding and more.

Although many of the sessions take place at the same time, if you plan ahead and map out your must-sees, you should be able to catch multiple in the same time slot. Pro-tip: try to arrive early to your most anticipated sessions to ensure you get a seat – the auditoriums fill up quick!

Be sure to bring a pen and notepad to write down your takeaways from each session. Since you will be attending so many different sessions, you won’t want to forget any of the information. Also, feel free to record some of the speakers on your phone in order to document their sessions better.

The full schedule of speakers and sessions can be found here.

Here are a few of our top picks:

The Top Ten Workplace Trends 2018 with Dan Schawbel
Monday, June 18th at 2:00 PM

Creating a Coaching Culture with Sarah Noll Wilson
Tuesday, June 19th at 2:15 PM

The Neuroscience of Engagement: The Deeper Science of Learning, Change, and Peak Performance with David Rock
Tuesday, June 19th and 4:00 PM

Bring a Bag for Swag

With over 700 exhibitors, SHRM’s expo hall is nothing short of impressive. With all of these hundreds of vendors comes SWAG, otherwise known as “stuff we all get.” No matter how hard you try to avoid it, you will leave Chicago with more fidget spinners and useless thumb drives than you thought possible, but if you’re someone who loves SWAG, be sure to bring a bag to store all of it.

Network Network Network

I cannot imagine a better networking opportunity than at SHRM. Every attendee has something to offer, so don’t be afraid to befriend others in your sessions – you’ll likely have something in common!

Though the concurrent sessions and keynote speakers will teach you a lot, you also have the opportunity to learn from the other HR professionals and vendors in attendance. Even small talk with your neighbor before a session can lead to a great connection, so don’t forget your business cards, and network away!

Don’t Forget to Take Breaks

Although your main goal at SHRM should be to learn and have fun, it can get exhausting. Don’t forget to take a few minutes throughout the day to relax before running to your next session or meeting. Bring a water bottle and a few snacks to stay hydrated and energized so that you can get the most out of this experience.

Whether this is your first time or your tenth time, there is always something new to learn at SHRM. Approach every session with an open mind and you will surely leave Chicago with plenty of wisdom (and fidget spinners) to bring back to your company.

First time or tenth time, there is always something new to learn at SHRM. Click To Tweet

Don’t forget to stop by the Reflektive booth #1721 to demo our performance management platform and a chance to win a $500 Airbnb gift certificate!

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