SHRM 12 ANTI-SWAG

I was truly amazed at the size of the bags being carried off the vendor expo floor at SHRM 12. I was even more amazed at how much stuff attendees had managed to cram into those bags. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of the bags I saw would not come close to fitting into the suitcase I brought, even without anything else in the suitcase. What do attendees really do with all of that stuff?

But I was not so smug as to come home from SHRM empty-handed. Most of what I brought home wasn’t truly swag, though, because the items I stuffed into my already-full suitcase were not Something We All Get. With a couple of exceptions, they were gifts. Many were gifts I got because I was part of a blogger team, and some gifts came from connections I made.

Here’s what was important enough to me to make suitcase space for:

 

1. T-shirts – One is pictured above and was received from Dice.com for being an official SHRM blogger. There is a Twitter bird logo on the back comprised of all of the bloggers Twitter names, which makes it a keeper. The rubber “Connect Rockstar” bracelet came from Dice.com as well. I also got a t-shirt from The Starr Conspiracy, but I wore it as a bathing suit cover-up in Atlanta and it was already in the dirty clothes when I took the picture.

2. Meet-Meme Cards – SHRM was nice enough to provide these for the blog team and I had some left over. I am a huge fan of Meet-Meme cards and I use them as my personal business card, so the extras from SHRM were a nice bonus.

3. Rubber Stamp – Also a gift from The Starr Conspiracy to their bloggers. I can’t tell you what it says because it is a super-secret conspiracy, and it is personal and mysterious. I am going to use it on my Freak Flag, though (see #6).

4. Tiny Tote Bag – This actually is swag. I got it from Baudville because I needed a small tote that fit inside the large tote I had been carrying around. I put it to use immediately, taking just my wallet and phone on multiple runs to Starbucks for tea. I also took – and ate – a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting from their booth, which is really my idea of great swag.

5. Social NOTworking – This book was given to me by author Jody Katz Pritikin, who I interviewed for a future blog about employment lawyers at SHRM 12. I missed her session due to a conflict so she gave me her book to read. It has lots of cool pictures, and she likes social media,  so I will definitely read it.

6. CD – This CD of country music was given to me by another attendee, Carol Ann Timmel. She was not a speaker, sponsor, or vendor. We got into a conversation at the Skillsoft  party, and she brought the CD by the blogger lounge the next day.

7. Freak Flag – Most of this flag is white, with just the Talent Anarchy logo in the corner. I missed the Talent Anarchy presentation due to a conflict, but I am thankful that I have seen them present before because they are amazing. They want people to decorate the flag in their own way and then post pictures. I will definitely do that but I need to go to the store for some colored Sharpies to accent my rubber stamp.

The moral of this story is that attendees should choose wisely when deciding what is really important for them to take and keep. Think about how many natural resources and fossil fuels were used making and transporting things that are probably going to end up in your kitchen junk drawer and just. say. no.

What did you take home from your last conference?

A Tale Of Two Vendors

When I started to receive emails and phone calls from vendors asking me to stop by their booth and chat with their CEO/CFO/some kind of O, I thought it was how vendors reached out to attendees prior to the massive annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference. It took Matt Stollak and his True Faith HR blog to explain to me that I was receiving those strange pitches because I was going to be a ribbon-wearing member of the social media press.

I felt kind of special for a few minutes. Then I received this phone call.

[Phone rings. Answered by daughter because I am feeding dogs.] Daughter yells at top of lungs: “MOM! Somebody about HR!” [Brings me phone]

Me: This is Joan.

Caller: This is (blank) from (blankety-blank). I’d like to see if you would list our client on your blog.

Me: What do you mean, “list”? Like a blog roll for vendors?

Caller: (silence)

Me: Well, I don’t have a vendor roll on my blog. I don’t have a blog roll at all.

Caller: (silence)

Me: Um, who’s your client, anyway?

Caller: (blank)**

Me: Well, they do sell to HR – I’ve even used their product.  But I don’t know any HR bloggers that have a vendor roll, or a vendor blog roll. I’m kind of busy right now, so email me at ginsberg dot joan at gmail dot com, tell me what it is you are looking for, and I will try to help you out later.

Caller: Thank you. (hangs up.)

A few minutes later I received this email:

Hi Its, (blank) from (blankety-blank), if you could refer different media publications or bloggers that would be interested in included our client that would be great. Thanks.

Really. This exact email (I deleted the names).

To this day I am really not sure what this marketing company wanted me or any other blogger to do for their client. I emailed back and asked for clarification but never received a  response.

Contrast that bizarre tale with an email I received from a different vendor a few days later, also included here without any change at all:

Hi Joan,

Congratulations on getting a press pass to the SHRM annual conference! I’m excited to see your SHRM posts – whether they will be rants or raves – and how you enjoy the conference. I’ll definitely be checking back tomorrow to see how your SHRM series starts. As the only Michigan blogger on the press list, I wanted to reach out to you and say hello! Baudville is located in Grand Rapids, so I’ll be making the long trip out to Vegas this weekend, too.

I’d love to connect with you at the conference, but as a VIB (Very Important Blogger), I know you have lots of people clamoring for your attention at SHRM next week. Vendors, authors, and speakers who all want you to know about them.  

 At Baudville, we’re different. We want to know what you think about employee recognition.

Cori Curtis, Marketing Specialist at Baudville and the author of this email, had obviously read my blog and went out of her way to make a very personal connection. I emailed her back that I would love to drop by her booth and visit. I wish I had done so (if you are reading for the first time, click here to see why I didn’t), because the videos were marvelous.

I think it is pretty obvious which vendor gets a big pat on the back in my book, and, most importantly, will be remembered as a great company when a time comes in the future to make a recommendation.

**I don’t wish to embarrass this company or their marketers by identifying them, but the client was a national insurance company who uses a duck in their promotions.