All I can say is… 2018 has been my year! Before this year, I had only been to company conferences. Between #SHRM18 and #SHRMlead, my perspective on networking and professional development has completely changed. I’ve been missing out on so much all of these years!
My first #SHRMLead experience was a great one. This year the conference was October 2nd and 3rd at the Sheraton Boston. It was interesting having #SHRM18 as my first conference, because it set the bar and expectations high! #SHRMLead was so nice because it was smaller and more laid back. I just assumed that all conferences were like #SHRM18 since that was my first one! There are definitely pros and cons to both big and small conferences. What I loved about #SHRMLead was that there was more time for intimate conversations and networking. For lunch on Tuesday, we were grouped by industry. I was at a great table of 8 other HR pros in manufacturing where we discussed recruiting and retention struggles and ideas. We used LinkedIn’s “find nearby” feature at our table so we could all connect and continue the conversation after the conference. On Tuesday night there was an awesome happy hour which I talk more about below. Read on!
On Day 1, I wasn’t really sure what to expect! I was seeing four speakers who I had not been familiar with in the past – Claire Shipman (keynote), Heather Christie, Olivia Fox Cabane (keynote) and Michael Lyons. I quickly realized that I was in the right place. Whether you’re a new or more experienced leader, I think we all need to be inspired and reminded of what makes leaders great!
As a relatively new leader, I was excited to chose my sessions and learn more about more strategic topics such as coaching and facilitating. Heather Christie talked about her 7 step coaching model, which was all new information for me. Her main theme was how to get people from off the court (blaming, excuses, negativity) to on the court (personal accountability. Reminded me of Cy Wakeman a little bit – no drama and no ego!) by being a coach!
Michael Lyons presented on “connecting the dots” and how to grow your career. These dots consisted of leadership skills, continuing education, values, career plan, time management, passion, communication, etc. and incorporating all of them into your leadership style and how you define success.
After the sessions for the day, I was fortunate enough to meet up with Callie Zipple, Field Services Director for SHRM to record TWO episodes for the HonestHR podcast! Twitter brought us together through a mutual friend Drew Cherry, and it was great to meet her for the first time in person and do the podcast! (You can always find all episodes of the podcast here) We talked about building credibility as a young professional and the war for talent.
After recording the episodes, we went back down to the conference area and joined most of the other staff, attendees and speakers for a happy hour. It was the size happy hour I was used to! Easy to navigate around the room, and people were chatting in small groups of 4 to 5. It was easy and stress-free to join into another group and introduce yourself. Everyone I said hi to for the first time seemed excited to see me, and this was a great feeling. The speakers were floating around as well introducing themselves, and it was so nice to have conversations with them and get to know them better!
I knew Day 2 was going to be a great day because I knew all of the speakers already for the concurrent sessions I was attending! Plus Phil Jones was an engaging keynote and taught us the magic of word choices when trying to influence people to take action and move through change.
I started my day at “Facilitating for Results” with Angelina Darrisaw Cheeks. I had reached out to Angelina to do a pre-conference blog post (you can read it here!) and she got back to me right away and was excited to promote her session. Because we did the blog post, she recognized me at happy hour the night before and came over to say hi! I was so excited that a speaker was coming over to chat with me. Angelina is a great presenter and has a lot of energy. Her session taught me to think differently about training and facilitating – what is the outcome of this training? Who’s the best person to deliver it? Should the speaker or attendees be doing most of the talking?
My next session was with Karlyn Borysenko on tapping into your unique leadership style. She started with going over how you can be a leader no matter what your title is! Creating a vision, gaining buy-in, executing in stages and building momentum, etc. I learned so much! Then she went into different leadership styles based on the DiSC profiles and how you should really understand your style, and your strengths and weaknesses when it comes to leading those with other styles. There is no “right” leadership style, and we should all be mindful and aware of our styles and how we can adapt.
The final session of the day was with Val Grubb on moving from tactical thinker to strategic leader. This was really helpful for someone with my level of experience. I know I’m a great executor. I love checking things off of my to-do list. Val shared attributes of strategic HR leaders such as being willing to take risks, being forward thinking, making plans to track deadlines and prioritize how to get there. Being forward thinking, and thinking long-term was something I hadn’t thought much about. She gave us actionable “homework” assignments such as do you know how people directly impact financial performance? Are you keeping up with industry trends? Do you know your company’s 5 to 10 year goals and what you can start doing now to get there?
Seeing my blogger friends again, Carlos and Jazmine (and Mary of course!) was the highlight of the trip. Conferences are more fun with friends! I always felt apart of something bigger and it was fun to catch up in between sessions on what we learned and what we were excited about. Can’t wait to see you all again in Vegas for #SHRM19, but hopefully sooner! If you have any questions about the conference or interested in more information on the sessions I attended, please reach out to me!