SHRM 2015

The SHRM 2015 Annual Conference & Exposition is right around the corner and I, for one, look forward to taking the trip to Las Vegas. I know we all want to get as much as we can out of SHRM. That's why I put together 6 tips to get the most out of the expo hall. And as a bonus I included a preview of the HR technology sessions, too. Check it out.

The Conference Part

With hundreds of sessions to choose from it goes without saying that planning is key. You can easily use the schedule and/or conference app to set your calendar. Personally, while I’ll no doubt attend at least a few sessions on topics covering the ADA, new FLSA proposals and legal updates, I also intend to dive into some HR technology sessions like these:

• We're Bringing Techy Back! with Tim Sackett, President, HRU Technical Resources
After the Contracts are Signed: Keys to Successful HR Technology Implementation with Steve Boese, Co-Chair of the HR Technology Conference and Trish McFarlane, CEO and Principal Analyst at H3 HR Advisors
• 10 Tickets for HR Professionals: Get on the Technology Clue Bus with Joe Rotella, Chief Technical Officer, Delphia Consulting, LLC

As an added bonus, Sackett promises to give out hugs after his session. Seriously.

The Expo Part

The Expo Hall is a shopper’s paradise for HR professionals but it can also be a bit overwhelming due to the sheer size and scope. With tens of thousands of folks unleashed, a stroll through the Expo Hall can seem like the HR equivalent of going to the mall on Black Friday. In similar fashion to tackling the biggest shopping day of the year, in order to make the most of the #SHRM15 Expo Hall experience it’s best to be prepared.

1. Have a Game Plan. You can easily search and find specific types of vendors by visiting the SHRM website or using the conference app. If, for example, your focus is on meeting vendors in the software as a service category you can easily map out their locations and find the easiest way to visit their booths.

2. Set Aside Time. If you’re specifically researching and seeking information because you’re ready to make a purchasing decision you’ll want to set aside enough time in the Expo Hall. You may find it worthwhile to skip out of a concurrent session or two. While the majority of your fellow 15,000+ attendees will be learning about the FLSA or talent acquisition, you can navigate the hall with ease. This can be the best time to have one-on-one conversations with vendor reps.

3. Engage with Booth Representatives. Don’t be afraid to approach a rep directly. Make eye contact and have a business card (or two) at the ready. When you kick off the conversation tell the vendor rep what you’re seeking. This could be general information about their product or service or you may have specific questions based on pre-research you’ve done. You may even want to schedule a specific time to return to the booth to meet one-on-one or run through a product demo.

SHRM Expo Hall

4. Share your key challenges. Take advantage of the time with a vendor representative to explain your organization’s needs, challenges and opportunities. Explaining what problems you’re trying to solve can help the vendor representative convey pertinent—and helpful—information.

5. Ask Questions. Come prepared with questions of your own. If you’re exploring HR solutions ask about system functionality, capability, and implementation processes and practices. It’s OK to ask a vendor rep how they compare to the competition. You’re gathering information in order to make an informed purchase, after all, so see what they have to say.

6. Take Notes. Whether you jot items down in a notebook or save them to a device, your notes will be valuable when you work to recall your initial thoughts and impressions.

Make the most of your #SHRM15 experience through preparation and planning but don’t forget to add in some time for fun, relaxation and perhaps a trip to the pool. With temperatures hovering around 100 degrees I may fit in a bit of cabana time myself.

HR Cloud at SHRM

Robin Schooling

Robin Schooling, SPHR, has 20+ years of HR leadership experience and currently serves as managing director/strategist with Silver Zebras LLC, where she works with organizations to develop integrated HR and talent management strategies.