Tips on how to master a long conference – Happy HR Technology week!

This week is the 19th HR Technology Conference in Chicago. Being one of the biggest events in our space, it’s an awesome opportunity to exchange ideas, learn and connect. It  will be my 5th HR Technology Conference and I vividly recall how inspired yet completely exhausted I left. Here are some things I’ve learned over the years:

Prep!

  • Familiarise yourself with the agenda and exhibitors. You might think you have plenty of time when you get to Chicago. Wrong! If you haven’t already, start now 🙂
  • Be clear on what you want to get out of the event. Make a list of goals, problems you are looking to tackle or topics you are interested in discussing.
  • Schedule your “must see” sessions in your calendar and allow some time-slots to roam the expo floor. Make a list of the vendors you “have to” see and those you “want to see”. With over 100 sessions and more than 400 exhibitors it is impossible to do, see and attend everything.
  • Bring comfortable shoes! You’ll likely get your steps up this week (bring your fitness tracker) and there is nothing worse then having to leave an interesting conversation or event simply because you cannot stand any longer.
  • Get tickets for after parties early on. There are several great dinner/events/parties every night. To help keep track, the lovely Jessica Miller-Merrell is collating an unofficial party guide every year. Follow her to stay tuned.

During the conference

  • Meet people and get into conversations! You’ll be amongst an awesome and friendly community. Everyone is there to learn and exchange ideas so be curious, open to be inspired and generous with your experience. If you want some pointers on how to network like a rockstar, check out “How I Stopped Sucking at Networking” by the awesome Pam Ross.
  • Make connections that last! Use the conference as a conversation starter so hand out and collect business cards. Taking notes on the cards after each chat helps to recall the conversations when you later connect properly.
  • Check Twitter and tweet. Be part of the conversation, see what is happening and learn from all the other sessions you cannot attend. You can bookmark interesting articles and like the tweets you find interesting to recap afterwards! @HRtechConf
  • Don’t forget food! You’re out and about, talking and learning. Comes time for after drinks, you don’t want to ravish on finger food looking like you’ve never eaten in your life before. Sounds funny now but I will spot you and point you out 😉
  • Stick to your schedule and don’t miss out on your favourite talks to attend, vendors to explore and people to meet. Time flies when you are having fun.
  • Oh and did I mention to have fun?! You’re going to meet some awesome people with a shared interest. Engage on the human level and enjoy yourself 🙂

Follow up

  • Take some time to digest the days. Jot down your thinking as well as todos and goals that came up to make your learnings actionable. The conference might be over but the hard work to implement learnings begins afterwards.
  • Follow up as soon as you can with those that left an impact on you. Connect on LinkedIn, email, Snapchat or whatever works for you 🙂

Hope this helps and you will have an awesome time at the HR Tech conference! I lam certainly very much looking forward to spending time with this amazing community as well as learn about HR trends, case studies and latest innovations to help make work a better place. We don’t have a booth but I’ll be running around so if you’d like to connect, drop me a line via linda@small-improvements.com or @linjonas on Twitter.