A conference shouldn’t end at the convention hall door

This post originally appeared on the blog of the Illinois State Council – SHRM as I prepare to be part of the event August 18-20, 2013 in suburban Chicago!  To learn more, click here


“I’m Brad and I’m a conference addict”

Please respond in unison “Hi Brad”

The reality is that yes, I do enjoy state HR conferences and the reasons really do go beyond what one might ordinarily expect.  There are certainly great speakers to be heard, HRCI credits to earn (I’m not taking the SPHR exam again!) and enthusiastic vendors to meet.  I think it is my parental duty to bring back at least one souvenir to each of my children and my professional duty to have at least one new idea that can improve my workplace (or the workplaces of my clients!)

Beyond those obvious things, I cherish the opportunity to meet and talk to new people.  There are so many interesting stories to be learned and be shared.  I’ve been to multiple state conferences now of all sizes and times of year.  No matter where or when, I always come away knowing more about someone and getting the chance to see people who love what they do.  This satisfies one of my core beliefs in looking for the best in everybody.

It bears remembering though that this requires some effort, and often, a little extra time.  Although sessions and time in exhibit halls can bring these moments, they are much more apt to occur after the conference’s official hours are over and attendees are gathered in more informal settings.  I think back fondly to Louisiana SHRM and my conversation with Laurie Ruettimann and Lizzie Maldonado.  Although I know Laurie, I still learned more about her experience and life beyond HR and her cats.  Liz I hadn’t really known before and now I not only follow her on social media, but know and see firsthand the great vivacious person behind her twitter handle and her work at The Starr Conspiracy.  Moments like these happen everywhere from sitting down with John Jorgensen and Dave Ryan (both from Illinois) while in Ohio to meeting Travis Sinquefield from Michigan while at HREvolution in Chicago.  All great people who are so much more than their Twitter bio can describe!

So, if you’re attending one of the many great state HR conferences coming in the next few months, please take a little time and go out on a limb to meet some new people.  I guarantee that you will benefit from doing so!  I know I intend to meet new folks and gain insight from those I am fortunate enough to get to know during my time at Illinois SHRM from August 18-20 and at my own HR Indiana August 27-30, 2013.


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