This will be the third national SHRM conference I am attending. The first time I attended, I was pretty caught off-guard with how big this thing was. It wasn’t impossibly big, my imagination just failed me on how big it could have been and ultimately was.
So… you do need to spend some time planning what you want to do. Hell… 4 planning hours total should do it. If you need a little help with this, check out China Gorman’s post Maximizing Your Conference Investment. Spend a little time creating a basic map of what you want to hear, what you want to see and who you want to network with.
But I find a lot of people are getting serious stomach pains about being at the right place, with the right people, at THE right networking event. I get it…I live it. I beg you; please do not let any sort of insecurities delude you that specific items, people, or places are THE events to attend. Sometimes logistics, oversights or mixed-communications will take you away from the path most traveled. This is OK. This may even be a blessing to you from the HR Gods.
Last year in Vegas, I was unexpectedly invited by @GerryCrispin to a dinner with a few HR pros, most I had heard of but didn’t know. I thought about the plans I had already made and after about 1 minute scrapped them. I went to dinner with this great group and enjoyed this low-key evening as much if not more than other events. Events I had researched and planned for.
If your plans fail… embrace it. Hang with the other person who didn’t make that “exclusive” networking event and make your own event. Keep an open mind about all of it. I mean ALL of it. Do NOT take yourself too seriously. As long as you choose to engage, there is so much to see and do, I guarantee your experience will still be great no matter what you attend.
- Do NOT let any one else dictate or define your experience.
- If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with.
PS — Going back to the hotel and getting some sleep is very underrated. When in doubt…chill out with some room service.