After a few days of catching up on my sleep, I decided to take a moment to reflect on the past week in New Orleans, organize the 300+ pictures that I managed to capture with my phone, and think about what I gained from this year’s SHRM Annual Conference as well as why I have decided to “conference” every year.
Compared to some of my colleagues, I’m relatively new to the annual conference circuit, attending my first SHRM Annual Conference in 2018 in Chicago. A lot has changed in both the world and in myself since that first conference, and I took note of this during what was only my fourth conference experience.
What has changed since #SHRM18?
Quite frankly, I was immediately hooked after attending my first SHRM Annual Conference in 2018. I started off by attending solo, having connected with a few HR professionals over social media before the event, but left that event with many lifelong friends. In terms of the conference, it has only improved each year as each conference has evolved with content, activities, and excitement every year. In addition, being able to attend sessions with friends as presenters while watching the session with other friends has made the conference experience even more special. Plenty has changed since attending my first annual conference and as a result, I now plan my annual calendar around the SHRM Annual Conference and count down the days until the next one!
What did I take away from #SHRM22?
As Steve Browne noted as somewhat of a disclaimer to one of his sessions, “Takeaways are the responsibility of the attendee, not the speaker.” I took this to mean that it is up to us, as attendees, to determine what we are going to get by attending and how we are going to use any takeaways from the conference. This year, there was so much that I gained in knowledge, energy, new connections, and insight. Some of the highlights included: seeing dear friends that we have not connected with since #SHRM19 and hearing from incredible keynote speakers including Arianna Huffington, President George W. Bush, and Johnny C. Taylor, Jr. I also gained some great ideas, content, and insights during concurrent sessions from friends and professionals including: Jennifer McClure, Tina Marie Wohlfield, Greg Schwem, Steve Browne, Claire Stroh Petrie, and many others. To cap it off, as a huge fan, I was able to see Brad Paisley as the SHRM Tuesday Night Entertainer, up close in concert with some wonderful new friends!
What did I learn?
You can’t help it but to learn something when attending a conference with so many industry experts all gathered at one event. Most of what I learned were reminders of why we chose to work in human resources in the first place, and it is the people. People depend upon us, and it is something that we need to constantly remember, functioning beyond the necessary policies, procedures, and compliance aspects of our work.
Personally, I also learned much about myself, particularly at this particular conference. As an introvert attending the world’s largest HR conference, I sometimes struggled to adjust to the crowds and in various social situations. While I have become adept at “performing” as an extrovert, it often created exhaustion and anxiety that only those closest to me could recognize. I appreciated those friends that supported me and took comfort in knowing that I had them to rely on if I felt uncomfortable and needed some quiet time after periods of sensory overload. You know who you are, so “thank you!”
Will I attend #SHRM23?
In a word, YES! Each time that I have attended a SHRM Annual Conference I have expanded my knowledge and professional and personal network. For those that have never attended, I cannot adequately express the experience. The memories that are made over a four-day period are lifelong. There are many investments that you can make in your career, and I find that by attending the SHRM Annual Conference, you will receive so much in return for your investment, much of which you can’t put a dollar amount on such as connection and engagement with human resources professionals from around the world that may become a part of your own personal HR community. Hope to see you in Las Vegas for #SHRM23!