The Real Value of a SHRM Conference

Got into a really good HR conversation yesterday at #SHRM11 in Las Vegas.  The conversation wasn’t at a session or about a session or with someone I even knew – and to me this is the real value of an event like SHRM National.  I’m sitting down, having something to eat, and I strike up a conversation with the guy sitting next to.  He’s from Dallas, TX – we go through the small talk stuff – Mavericks rocked this year, yeah it’s hot and muggy – my brother in-law lives in Frisco, etc.  Come to find out we share some similar background of both having past work experience of working in the casual dining industry – which leads to a really cool dynamic conversation about how HR and Operations work best together and how to make that happen.

The details of this conversation really don’t matter – why it happened does.

17,000 people are at this conference.  It seems like most are here to go to the expo and see what cool HR products are out there – and there are a ton, or they’re here to get continuing ed credits and attend sessions.  Here is where there is a huge miss!  I see way to many thousands of HR Pros here that hang with their own tribe, and don’t venture outside of the tight network.  I’ve been here for two days and have met new HR Pros and made connections with people in 10 different states, multiple industries and in multiple HR disciplines.  My social/professional network in HR has expanded exponentially and that is the real value of attending a conference.

So, here’s my challenge to you.

Today, tomorrow, or the next conference you attend, challenge yourself to go out of your way to purposely go out and introduce yourself to a HR Pro you don’t know, purposely begin to build and expand your social/professional network.  It doesn’t have to be someone in your same industry and your same career path – in fact sometimes this isn’t even the most valuable connections you want to have.  You’ll be amazed at the results – maybe not with just one meeting, but as you go out and do this over and over you’ll begin to see how this expands your view of HR in general.

It use to be that you were only as strong as your weakest player. Today, you are as strong as your strongest connection!  Go get stronger.

2 thoughts on “The Real Value of a SHRM Conference

  1. Totally agree with this. I like to go to these kinds of conferences alone, it forces you out of the comfort zone of hanging with the people you already know. It is like the first week of college all over again, you have no choice but to meet new people and it is really cool to see at the end of the conference how many new people you have connected with.

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