How to: Make the most of HR conferences

confFour days to go for the biggest HR conference in the country – Yes, I am counting. As I pack my bags for New Delhi, I am penning down notes on how to make the most of the two days I spend there.  In the past, I’ve always fretted about which sessions to attend, whether I met enough people, if I captured everything and so on. This time, I intend to have a plan. While initially these notes were created for self, I see no reason why I shouldn’t share them.

Earlier this year, I wrote about five reasons why you should attend HR conferences. If you haven’t booked your tickets for the upcoming SHRM Annual Conference, I highly recommend that you do.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the three easy steps to ensure that you have the best experience:

  1. Dive deep into the agenda: It is impossible to expect one to be at their most attentive self over the course of the entire conference. There will be ‘post lunch’ sessions where you’ll likely be drifting in and out of consciousness. In addition, all conferences have breakout sessions, which mean that you’re never going to be physically present in every single session taking place at the venue. It is a good idea to look at the agenda and the description of each talk ahead of the conference. Yes, it is added effort but it does minimalize regret at the end. Mark out sessions that you absolutely must attend, would like to attend and can afford to snooze in. Balance your time and energy accordingly. Not only does it help you make the most of the event, it also saves you from making last minute regrettable decisions. I often am swayed into walking into the wrong sessions if I don’t mark these ahead of time. S: If on Day 1, your picks are IoT for Workforce Effectiveness and Neuroscience of Leadership, you will most likely run into me there.
  1. Get onto the app: All conferences have a host of pre-conference activities that allow you to engage with speakers and peer attendees days before the actual event. Most now also an app that allows you to engage in discussions, know who is attending (you may just run into some old colleagues) and stay updated with what’s happening. The SHRM conference app, in addition, allows you to win goodies while participating in the pre-conference engagement activities. Even during the conference, it is a handy reckoner for venue details and on-going discussions. It is a great way to stay engaged with what’s happening before, after and during.
  1. Get out of your comfort zone: Now that you’ve done your homework before hitting the venue by underlining the sessions you want to attend and being an active participant in the pre-conference activities, it is time to get into real action. It is easy to stick to the people you know or sit by the corner alone. However, there are innumerable folks at the venue who just like you, are looking to create new connections but are just too shy. If you don’t know where to start, the easiest targets for spontaneous conversations are the speakers, people at the various booths and of course, the blog squad. This is the time to step out of the proverbial comfort zone and challenge yourself to create new connections and experiences. I’ve found great friends and mentors via the conferences and would encourage you to do the same. You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve by just edging yourself into new groups.

So there you go – my three easy tips to ensure that you have a gala time and leave with great memories. Don’t fret too much about missing sessions if you are busy networking. The blog squad works hard to ensure that you can enjoy the event and keep up with everything we learnt and our opinions.

Return to this blog to find my top takeaways and follow us on Twitter for live updates. I can guarantee you that this is one conference you wouldn’t want to miss.

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