It’s that time of year – conference season! Having attended countless HR conferences over the years, I have to say I have a soft spot for the HR Tech conference. Each time I attend, I am so impressed by the ways technology is revolutionizing HR. I love to walk around the exhibit hall and see all of the new software available to HR. And the sessions provide great practical advice that all HR professionals can learn from - it’s not just, “here is a cool new tool.” Instead it’s, “here is how we used a new tool to do something cool.”
The 19th HR Technology Conference and Exhibition takes place October 4-7 in Chicago. Whether it’s your first HR Tech, or you’re simply looking for some reminders, here are my 5 tips for making the most of the conference.
Plan to meet people
We’re in HR – we’re friendly! Don’t be afraid to say hi to someone new. One of the reasons to attend a conference is to network with your peers so that you can share information and learn from each other. Be sure to grab some extra business cards before you leave the office to make it easier to exchange information with your new connections and stay in touch after the conference.
Plan to download the mobile app
The mobile app is a must-have to keep you organized. You can use the app to build your own agenda so that you don’t lose track of sessions, and you can also build out a list of the vendor booths you want to visit. (Speaking of, PeopleDoc will be at booth #1836.) You can also view the live Twitter stream through the app, and use it to connect with other attendees.
Plan on running on caffeine
The days are long at HR Tech. Keynotes start around 8:30, and from then on, it’s go go go. It can be intense to sit through several sessions in a row, as there is a lot of information to take in. You’ll also want to visit the expo hall, see some demos, and meet new people. And once the conference ends each day… the party is just getting started. There are tons of opportunities for networking at various receptions and parties. (Blogging4jobs published a list of all the parties, which I recommend checking out in advance.) Although waking up the next day can be tough, I strongly recommend attending these. You just may need an extra cup or 3 of coffee in the morning.
At any given moment during HR Tech, there could be 10 concurrent sessions, some demos, the expo hall floor, 1-1 meetings, and more to attend. It’s a good idea to give the agenda a glance before you arrive to have a sense of which sessions are important for you to attend. You can easily add these sessions to the mobile app to build your own schedule. You should also take a look at the list of vendors exhibiting in the expo hall – there are over 400 this year! While walking around the expo floor is a lot of fun, it may help you to do some research in advance. Again, the mobile app is a good resource for building a list of vendors to make sure you don’t miss anything.
Plan for a lot of walking
While Chicago and the McCormick are a VERY welcome change of scenery from the tired Mandalay Bay, one thing is still the same. The McCormick is very spread out and can feel like a maze. Even if you are lucky enough to have a hotel room at the Hyatt, you may still be a significant walk away from the conference itself. Plan plenty of time to get to sessions and the expo floor, especially the first time you go. The good news? You’ll walk off some of the calories from that delicious Chicago deep dish!
I’m looking forward to learning about the advances our industry has made over the past year, meeting new people, and seeing old friends. Stop by the PeopleDoc booth and say hi!
Nicole Lindenbaum is the Director of Product Marketing at PeopleDoc by Ultimate Software. Nicole leads the global messaging strategy for PeopleDoc by translating technology into business benefits HR can actually understand. With significant experience in HR technology, Nicole writes and speaks about HR service delivery, employee experience, digital transformation, and the future of work. Nicole holds a BFA from Syracuse University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.