- non-stop vendor/industry meetings,
- exhibition hall booth visiting (I make a valiant effort each year to stop at everything single booth, but the show has gotten so large that many of these visits are flybys — no disrespect intended),
- session attending,
- session delivery (I’m doing a general session on Tuesday morning entitled “Bringing HR Into The Cloud – Naomi’s Master Panel” and then an “ask the expert” session that afternoon),
- intense but wonderful hallway exchanges,
- time with valued colleagues and long-standing industry friends,
- an occasional meal and more than an occasional drink,
- tweetups and meetups,
- our annual Brazen Hussies gathering, and more.
I’ll have just celebrated my 67th birthday (it’s 9/24 in case you want to send a little something) and will still be basking in the afterglow of another year well-lived. Living large, personally and professionally, honors those who never got this far, and the number of loved ones who didn’t grows longer with each passing year.
#HRTechConf tip #10: Get #HRTechConf 2013 on your calendar and in your budget now. It’s 10/7 to 10/9/2013 returning to Vegas, Baby. They really picked great dates this time, with all the Jewish holidays well behind us, no stepping on Columbus Day, and late enough for Vegas temps to be down to 90. I’ll be there, with The Wallace in tow, but will probably need to bring a big humifier so that my wrinkles don’t reveal themselves.
#HRTechConf tip #9: Talk, talk, talk and listen, listen, listen because sharing questions, ideas and experiences with colleagues is the point. Bring your list of the folks you follow most on Twitter and make it a point to meet them. Come to my “ask the expert” session on Tuesday afternoon and hit me with your questions. And do feel quite comfortable approaching almost anyone about anything reasonable; it takes a village, and that’s HR Tech all over.
#HRTechConf tip #8: Bring a swag carrier if you’re flying in or plan to carry your #Monster home in your lap. Ron can’t imagine coming home from #HRTechConf without a new monster, and who’s going to tell him that we’re overrun with them here at HQ? And if you’re a vendor doing some swag planning, we love: umbrellas (the rainy season is on right now, and you can never have too many), interesting stress reduction toys, cuddly creatures (why doesn’t anyone ever give away big stuffed alligators), shoe bags (those soft ones in which you pack your shoes when traveling), towels (all sizes appreciated), t-shirts (medium for Ron, XL for me — embarrassing but true), but please no more vendor-branded iPad covers. The risk of meeting with Vendor A with your iPad wrapped in Vendor B is too high.
#HRTechConf tip #7: Leave room in your schedule for serendipity and for nature breaks — well at least nature breaks. I’ve met some amazing women during those nature breaks; I can’t speak for what goes on in the men’s room.
#HRTechConf tip #6: Attend as many sessions as possible. I do because they’re excellent, and there’s NO sales crap allowed. Woe be it unto any vendor who tries to slip a sales pitch into their session because the Kutik has both a loud gong and one of those long sticks with the curved ends they used in vaudeville to pull bad acts off the stage.
#HRTechConf tip #5: Don’t try to attend > 3 vendor parties on Monday night. Save yourself for my amazing panel session on Tuesday morning “Bringing HR Into The Cloud – Naomi’s Master Panel.” I hate missing all those great parties and must just hope for the year that my sessions will be on the first day so that I can do a party crawl.
#HRTechConf tip #4: Go online now http://www.hrtechnologyconference.com/agenda.html and plan your conference. With what vendors do you want to schedule extended and/or private demos? Make those appointments now. With what attendees with whom you share specific issues/vendors/industry concerns/etc. do you want to meet? And if you’re all on the same true SaaS product, you won’t have to waste a minute asking each other what release you’re on! Do that outreach and arrange that meeting now. Pick your sessions and, because there are too many good ones for just one person, find a buddy with whom you can divide and conquer. Better yet, bring a whole team to Chicago and cover the ground.
#HRTechConf tip #3: Carry a water bottle and refill it every chance you get. Convention center climates are designed to dessicate, and they never have enough refreshment stations. I could suggest that you bring a flask, because there’s a known shortage of booze outlets in the Chicago convention center (but never fear, we’re going back to Vegas in 2013), but we HR people would never make such a suggestion.
#HRTechConf tip #2A: Assume that the convention center will be too cold/too hot/too drafty/too whatever, and dress accordingly. We’ll be overrun with executives from across the industry, buyers and sellers, so you may want to lose the flipflops, cutoffs, and anything that reveals parts of you that I’d rather not see. Here I’m showing my personal biases, but business casual does not translate in my book into anything lower down the sartorial scale than clean pressed jeans, a similarly clean ironed t-shirt with at least short sleeves, most of your tattoos tactfully covered, and shoes.
#HRTechConf tip #2: Wear your most comfortable walking shoes. There will be few places to sit except in sessions and long convention center distances. Yes, I know that my younger female colleagues will want to show off those Manolo platform spikes — the latest in fashionista circles — and I don’t blame you, but be sure you’ve got a suitably designed male colleague at the ready to carry you after the first hour. Having done my fair share of spike heel time, I’m convinced that there’s a direct connection to my now arthritic joints. It doesn’t matter what shoes I’ll be wearing as I flash by on my magic carpet.
#HRTechConf tip #1: For vendors of greatest interest, do your homework in advance, preparing the mental scenarios that you’d like to see, so that booth time is hands-on demo time. And be sure to spend time on the floor checking out some of the newer/smaller vendors. There’s a ton of innovation going on in our industry, and it isn’t always on offer at the flashiest booths. In spite of the heavy industry consolidation, The Kutik tells me that there will be more booths this year than last, so you’re bound to find some exciting newbies worthy of your attention.
I’ll look forward to seeing you in Chicago.