I love attending HR conferences. I make it a point to attend at least one, if not two a year. In a world full of skeptics, I know this statement will raise many frowns but let me explain. I will not only attempt to explain why I enjoy and consider them important but I will also make a case for why it is a worthy investment of every HR professional’s valuable time.
- Let’s start with the obvious. HR conferences are a crash course in what is happening in the world of HR. Sure – blogs, articles, tweets, webinars etc. all play a vital role in keeping abreast but nothing beats the high of attending an HR conference. Consider it a 2-day crash course of everything the greats are talking about. It isn’t meant to provide in-depth knowledge. If you walk in with that expectation, you are bound to be let down. On the contrary, it is a broad spread introduction to what is happening in the world around you. You may hear many speakers repeat the obvious and the jargons may make you cringe, yet the amount of HR talk you hear (engage in) in the 2-days will make you a better person. I am also willing to make a wager that you will walk out knowing something that you didn’t know before.
- If you ever had questions about anything in HR and wondered who to ask, make your way to one of these conferences. There is no other venue on Earth that will have more HR pro’s teeming at a single location. Even better, they are willing to engage in conversation with inquisitive minds. Want to question a speaker? Catch them off-stage and have a quick dialogue. They may even invite you to a quick lunch with them if they haven’t managed to answer your question completely. I have walked away from these conferences with many a conversation that I will remember for time to come.
- I am guessing, however, most people turn up to these conferences just to network. You will always bump into folks handing out their business cards with no purpose whatsoever. The smarter ones, however, will engage you in friendly banter, spark some curiosity and then connect on social media. After all, whoever saves paper cards anymore? (Or is it just me?) It is a good idea to don your networking hat and make the most of the event. These connections go a long way in creating a fulfilling HR career. They help when looking for a job, collaborating on opportunities and answering your many questions.
- Invest time in getting onto social media while at these conferences if that is your cup of tea. Every time you come across someone interesting, add them on Twitter, LinkedIn and any other social media you think appropriate. Tweet out your thoughts at the conference and write about it later. Conferences are a great way to boost your social media presence. How important is it to do so? That will take up an entire blog post altogether but let me tell you this much – if you are a social media dinosaur, you are an HR dinosaur. Get in step!
- The most important reason to attend, however, is to have fun. It isn’t all work and no play. If you are rolling your eyes at me saying – ‘Ankita, you need to get a life. There are many more ways to have fun than attend HR conferences,’ I understand. This, however, is a heady experience in itself. These conferences are nerd nirvana. They give me plenty of material to talk about and write about for an entire month. The conference evening events also provide lasting memories. Not only are the evening performances worth attending, there is also availability of free flowing alcohol (usually), which in itself lends to an amiable amusing environment.
If you’ve never attended an HR conference, you must. If you have and not enjoyed it, you probably didn’t have the right company or didn’t know how to maximize the opportunity. Either ways, I am attending the SHRM Tech Conference happening on 26th & 27th of this month at Hyderabad, India. Come meet me there & I can promise you, we’ll have a blast.