The time is at hand… The Big Show (a.k.a. The SHRM National Annual Conference) starts this weekend in Chicago. If you have attended one of these, you KNOW how over the top this event is. If you have NEVER ATTENDED and are not attending this year do yourself a favor and plan to attend in 2014. In my time I have been fortunate enough to attend five of them.
One of the bits of information I have gleaned over the years is this. There are only a handful of cities that can accommodate an event of this magnitude. Having a large enough conference hall and enough hotel rooms are the limiting factors. In the last few years the conference has had around 15,000 attendees and probably on the order of 18,000 people on site, between the vendors, presenters and support staff.
But why, why do HR people move via planes, trains and automobiles to congregate with one and other? I know of several reasons. One reason is strategic credit hours. Typically the conference will offer up about 15 hours of the coveted strategic hours. This will complete the requirements for those holding an SPHR certification. A second reason is to check out the latest and greatest HR offerings (this would be the exhibition hall). Others like Dwane Lay and Laurie Reuttimann visit the exhibition hall simply for the swag.
The Big Show always offer MEGA Name Keynote speakers… Jack Welch, Tom Brokaw, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell – you get the drift. Rumor has it these folks command MEGA bucks for thier services too. Besides the keynote sessions there are dozens if not hundreds of break out sessions. You can attend a session on virtually any subject remotely related to the HR field. Many of the presenters are looking to get noticed and pick up additional speaking gigs with other SHRM organizations (Local Chapters and State Councils). It is also a good place for those who book speakers to preview what they might be buying.
There is one other main reason why people attend this event – NETWORKING. If you want to meet people in the HR biz, it doesn’t get any better than this. You can network your ass off! For me, after years of networking a by-product of that activity is friendships. So it almost goes without saying, that after years of networking in the this community the conference gives many of us an opportunity to re-connect (socialize, drink, eat and tell tall tales). Which, in-turn, makes the conference several days of severe sleep deprivation.
Starting Saturday, I will be on site at McCormick place. I am part of the 80 per social media team for the event. I will be tweeting, blogging (here), and posting to Facebook and Google +. If you can’t attend this year, follow the streams and attend the event virtually – so you can get warmed up for next year.