July SHRMChat Recap – Conferences


Once again we had an interesting and lively chat, this time on the subject of conferences. You can see the preview post here, but I am repeating all of the questions we asked because I am lazy and it makes it easier for me to write. 😉

Q1. Excluding content, what are the 3 most important ingredients for a successful conference?

There were a lot of thoughtful responses to this question. Facilities seemed to be the most frequent answer, if you consider that facilities can include a large number of considerations such as wireless, the physical ability to network, and food provision. Food, in fact, was the subject of many serious tweets about its importance. Also included in the discussion of facilities was a suggestion to include electronic enhancements like charging stations or electronic kiosks. The ability for attendees to get online and stay online was clearly thought to be a priority by the chatters.

Q2. Can there be a successful HR conference without social media? Why or why not?

The consensus answer to this question was “no,” although there was a short discussion of whether that was what the chatters wanted, or what they thought attendees wanted. This question also prompted many tweeters to recognize HR Florida and the recent annual SHRM as models of using social media to engage the attendees as well as promote the events. One of the advantage social media brings, it was noted, is an opportunity to invest in future conferences through pushing and involving the speakers. In fact, there was an entire spin-off discussion about speakers and vendors during this time, with tweeters discussing the need to get speakers and vendors more involved in the overall fabric of the conference.

My favorite tweet regarding this question came from Curtis Midkiff, Social Media guru for SHRM. He stated that when social media is used effectively at a conference, it can thread together all of the components, such as marketing, speakers, attendees, etc., into a cohesive whole.

Q3. Name the top 3 social media practices a conference should use.

Not surprisingly, Twitter showed up on the list of almost everyone who responded to this question. After that, chatters differed in their choices, naming video/You Tube, LinkedIn, blogs, and mobile apps. A social media educational center, such as The Hive at the annual SHRM conference, was also listed as a best practice in several tweets.

Q4. Are HRCI credits a must for a successful conference? If not, how do you attract attendees?

This question did not get much of a response, because everyone just said “yes”, credits are an absolute when it comes to running a SHRM-affiliated conference. There was a brief discussion about HRCI and SHRM stretching their credit requirements in a way that would allow fresher, newer content and programming. (Note: I am trying very hard to find someone from HRCI willing to guest on SHRMChat for a discussion about HRCI credits. Stay tuned.)

Q5. What are the 2 or 3 most important attributes of a successful conference director?

This question prompted a very passionate and lively discussion, as you might expect from HR pros. Some specific attributes that were mentioned:

  • Patience
  • Dedication
  • Insightful
  • Motivator
  • Leadership skills
  • Articulated vision
  • Ingenuity

What most chatters agreed on, though, was that the best conference director had the same attributes as any good manager – the ability to build an awesome team and get out of their way.

Join us for our next SHRMChat on August 14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Details soon!

(AUTHOR NOTE 07/27/12 – If you are involved in conference planning of any kind, you must check out this blog from Dice.com, outlining what they did at #SHRM12 and how it paid dividends to them as a sponsor. It was mentioned briefly in the discussion of Q2 above.)


The SHRM12 Blogger Challenge

(Most of you know that I will be attending the massive upcoming conference of human resources pros held by the Society for Human Resource Management – SHRM. Most of my posts for the next month will probably be about this conference. Caveat emptor. But you never know, so you may want to keeping peeking in, just in case.)


Jennifer McClure, a marvelous speaker and wonderful person, is presenting a Mega Session at SHRM called “From HR Leader To Business Leader” at 7:00 am on Monday, June 25th at SHRM 12. She’s a great speaker, and you won’t be disappointed if you get up and go listen.

I’m not going to be there, though.

I will be at a legal/compliance session on workplace privacy. And I’m just not awesome enough to be at two different places at the same time.

You see, I asked members of my local SHRM what they would like to learn about if they were at SHRM 12, and legal information was the majority answer. I also offered to let members of my local choose sessions to send me to and blog about, so you will even see me blog about compensation issues somewhere along the line. My agenda as an attendee and blogger is largely being dictated by others.

I think this is how it should be. Like the vast majority of the HR pros out there, I’ve never been to a SHRM national before because the time and cost involved is just too great. So being allowed to attend as a blogger is truly a gift. And what better thing to do with a gift than to pay it forward and give something back that acknowledges how fortunate you really are?

I think other bloggers believe in this as well. Charlie Judy, in a cautionary tale about over-emphasizing vendors, said, ” . . . you should be sharing some of the really juicy morsels likely to come from the sessions and their presenters  . . .” And Dave Ryan, in a post called Social Media Mission Impossible , encouraged SHRM12 bloggers to bust out of the echo chamber. Part of that echo chamber is created by HR bloggers and tweeters attending sessions of everyone else in the chamber.

So my challenge to SHRM 12 bloggers is to do some blogging about sessions or topics that might not be on your personal radar, or aren’t being presented by personal friends, or by other people in the online HR community that we all already know and love.

Think about the HR generalist at the 200 person company in your hometown, who has to deal with boring wage and hour issues whether they want to or not. Help them learn something, because they can’t afford to be in your shoes.