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How to Make the Most of the 2018 SHRM Conference

Get the most from your week at SHRM 2018 with these tips from your fellow HR professionals and attendees, as well as session recommendations and a quick guide to Chicago's food scene.
How to Make the Most of the 2018 SHRM Conference

If you haven’t been to the SHRM Annual Conference & Exposition, you’re in for an eye-opening experience in Chicago the week of June 17. If you have, you know it can quickly become overwhelming if you’re not prepared.

Don’t wait until you’re at McCormick Place before you:

  • Decide among dozens of sessions in six different tracks;
  • Navigate 700 vendors in the expo hall;
  • Deal with 15,000 or more fellow attendees, all scrambling to get where they need to go;
  • And choose from Chicago’s famous foods and restaurants.

Tips from SHRM conference veterans

Get the most from your week at SHRM 2018 with these tips from your fellow HR professionals and attendees.

Jennifer Payne, @womenofhr, WomenofHR
My best advice is to use the opportunity to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. Whether that means choosing sessions you normally wouldn't, ones that are on topics that might be outside the realm of your everyday responsibilities, that force you to stretch yourself in some way; or making new connections and talking to new people. The more you push yourself outside of your every day, the more you give yourself the opportunity to grow. And you never know when that new knowledge or those new connections might just come back and impact your career in a way that you least expect!

Mary Kaylor, @SHRMKaylor, SHRM
I recommend attending the conference orientation session on Sunday morning. You’ll get valuable tips to help chart your course, meet other “newbies” and find new friends.

Clear your desk before you go and leave your job behind as much as possible, so you can focus all your attention on the content, solutions and networking opportunities. Take advantage of every opportunity while there -- expo hall, Meet to Eat, the Tuesday night show. Explore the SHRM Store. You will meet so many amazing HR professionals and build networks and friendships that will last a lifetime.

Expand your horizon and step outside your comfort zone by selecting one session that you would normally NOT attend – and attend it. Find an expo vendor that you would normally not approach and visit them. You’ll be surprised at what you will learn and how it will affect your experience.

Dawn Burke, @DawnHBurke, Dawn Burke HR

Download the SHRM18 App Pronto! You know you'll have your cell phone glued to your hand. You'll probably accidentally run into a vendor booth, conference attendee, or table of fidget spinners because you're looking at your phone. Well, turn your phone addiction into a positive! In my opinion, the only way to navigate the conference is by using the SHRM conference phone app. You can see all speakers, sessions, and expo vendors in the palm of your hand. You can create a calendar of people you want to see and events you want to attend. And you can keep all the conference booklet, pamphlets, and paper maps in your hotel room! What's not to love?

Ben Eubanks, @beneubanks, Lighthouse Research & Advisory
I still remember the first time I went to Chicago several years back. I told a friend I couldn't leave until I had real deep dish pizza, and he took me to the original Pizzeria Uno to make that a reality the night before I went home. This summer with the return of SHRM to the Windy City, I'm hoping to make my own return to the restaurant as it's the best deep dish you can find.

Look for more dining tips later in the article.

Interesting sessions to expand your HR experience

We read through all 197 SHRM events to pick a must-see session from each day of the conference. Take a look and see if you agree with our selections. After the show let us know @Paychex which sessions you enjoyed attending and what you brought home with you from the experience.

Future Skills: Critical Thinking for HR
Preconference Workshop — Sunday, June 17, 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Led by Karl James Ahlrichs (@kahlrichs), Senior Consultant, Gregory and Appel, this workshop helps you develop the skills to become a better critical thinker and decision-maker. It covers the theory of critical thinking, putting it into practice, group dynamics in HR, and methods that work in group environments.

The First 90 Days Will Make or Break Your New Hire
Monday, June 18, 2:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

64 percent of millennial workers plan to leave their employer in the near-term, according to presenter Amy Hirsh Robinson, Principal, Interchange Group (@InterchangeGrp). Learn about the transition from recruiting to onboarding and find ways to increase engagement during the critical first 90 days.

Designing the Inclusive Employee Experience
Tuesday, June 19, 10:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Joe Gerstandt (@JoeGerstandt), speaker and author at Talent Anarchy, says you’ll leave this session being able to guide your organization in designing an inclusive employee experience for your organization. You’ll learn the meaning of being fully included, foundation concepts of inclusion, and how to design an inclusive employee experience at your company.

From the Files of the Bizarre: The Latest, Most Unusual Employment Law Cases
Wednesday, June 20, 11:30 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.

We’re giving Joseph L. Beachboard, Shareholder, Ogletree Deakins (@OgletreeDeakins) full marks for making his employment law session look entertaining. You’ll hear about some unusual cases, understand what lessons and trends can be learned from them, and leave with some tips on how to potentially avoid employment lawsuits, bizarre or otherwise.

Sessions make us hungry and Chicago hits the spot

At the end of the day, you’re going to need something to help you recharge. Chicago is well known for its culinary heights as well as its lowbrow delights. In addition to SHRMs own Meet to Eat opportunity, we asked Democrat & Chronicle food and drink reporter, and Chicago native, Tracy Schuhmacher (@RahChaChow) for some tips on where to go for some of the city’s best food experiences.

Chicago Hot Dogs and Italian Beef

Portillo’s is the place to go for the topping-heavy all-beef hot dogs Chicagoans love. Also try the Italian Beef, a local delicacy made with thin roast beef served au jus on an Italian-style roll.

Deep Dish Pizza

Don’t ask us if deep dish qualifies as true pizza. And definitely don’t ask a Chicagoan. We only know it’s delicious. Tracy suggests Gino’s East and Lou Malnati’s for the thick crust, cheese-on-the-bottom, sauce-on-top pies locals love.

Fine Dining

If pizza or a hot dog won’t satisfy your craving for the better things in life, consider one of the many Rick Bayless-led restaurants, or the classics, such as Spiaggia for Italian, or The Berghoff for German food. If your party can’t agree on the cuisine, Chef Stephanie Izard’s The Girl and The Goat is a restaurant with a little something for everyone.

Remember to enjoy yourself

The 2018 SHRM Conference is sure to be an enlightening few days for HR professionals. With a little research and the right mindset, you should be in great shape to enjoy every minute of your time in Chicago. While you’re there, come say hello to us in Paychex booth #1443. Let us know how it’s going so far and whether these tips have helped. We hope to see you there!

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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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