What’s Fun at #SHRM13?

Starting this Saturday (June 15th) I will be attending the annual SHRM-a-ganza (#SHRM13)  in Chicago, one of my favorite American cities. That should serve to warn you that this post, and several more to come, will be about SHRM. Or something someone discussed, wore, gave away, or found at SHRM13 or in Chicago. Let’s begin, shall we?

 

SHRMChicago

The annual SHRM conference attracts almost 20,000 HR and related discipline professionals to its learning sessions, speeches, discussions, and events. SHRM has a reputation for being a conservative organization, and to a large degree their annual conference reflects that. Most learning sessions have a pretty traditional focus, like “Drive Results with HR Metrics and Workforce Analytics”. Sounds sexy, huh? Vendors? Most of them are old school vendors we know, love, and are totally bored with. They are  HRIS providers, background checkers, and recruiting firms.

But sometimes a function, event, or vendor at SHRM13 jumps out and sounds downright fun.

Here’s what sounds fun to me:

Vendor – Rocket Lawyer

I just love the name of this company, Rocket Lawyer, which provides legal services and/or advice as an employee benefit. It seems to me that it only takes a second or two to say “it depends” when someone has a legal question, which is probably how they got their name. But it is a fun, attention grabbing name, so I think I’ll stop by this booth and see how you can buy lawyer services for “less than the cost of a boxed lunch” as they promise.

Learning Session – Stand Up Comedy

Who would not want to go to a session called “Comedy Training as a Culture Change Catalyst”? Yes, the co-founder of Peppercomm, a NYC communications and PR firm, is partnering with stand up comedian Clayton Fletcher to show HR how leaders should use comedy to engage employees. This should be worth a laugh/look.

Networking Event – Kickball

Yes, there are all kinds of parties networking events at SHRM13, promising food, drink, and the opportunity to get on someone’s email list. In fact, Blogging 4 Jobs keeps tally of these, and currently has 17 such functions listed. I am sure there are others.  But the most original, interesting event has to be playing kickball in Grant Park. Dovetail Software and Dice are partnering to sponsor this event, which is generously raising money for No Kid Left Hungry. I have physical limitations that prevent me from playing, but I was a cheerleader in junior high, so I will be adding my not-so-quiet voice from the sidelines.

Onsite Activity – LEGO

The Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) is having a “playdate”, inviting the HR bloggers and media professionals to build a LEGO mini HR person. I’m not sure if this is going to be available to general attendees of the conference, but I desperately want to build an HR pro out of LEGO bricks. What better way to celebrate the award winning culture of The LEGO Group, acknowledge the importance of HR certification, and spend some joyful time acting like a child again?

 

 

 

 

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.)

 

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?