In less than a month, individuals will be heading to Orlando to attend the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference. This will be my 14th SHRM Annual Conference, and, based on my years of experience, here are the things you do NOT want to do while attending.
1. Do NOT suffer from SWAG remorse.
The exhibit hall is going to open at 4 p.m. on Sunday, June 22 and you going to be tempted by every vendor with some sort of gee-gaw or doo-dad that you absolutely have to bring back to the office. You may have already received an inch tall pile of vendor mail and you've mapped out your strategy for maximizing your haul. You may have even packed light so that you have plenty of room in your suitcase for the haul. It is free, right? You HAVE To grab it. Trust me, as a former victim, you will suffer from SWAG remorse. It may take a week....it may take a month, but you are going to look at that tote bag full of "goodies" you brought back and you are going to ask yourself why you grabbed that 7th t-shirt or 14th squeeze ball. Regret always tastes sour.
2. Do NOT bring a rollerbag to the conference
I have posted this several times since 2010, and people are still not listening. Rollerbags are the scourge of the exhibit hall. They get underfoot, and people are often unaware of the people behind them when toting it along. Don't be that person.
3. Do NOT get in the way
You make think the exhibit hall is huge, but the rows are narrower than you think. If you see someone you know, step out of the way, so that others can traverse the area more freely. If people have to walk around you, you're doing it wrong.
4. Do NOT use the phrase "Seat at the Table" or you'll be fined $100
The phrase "seat at the table" is officially barred from mention at the conference. If you say it, you owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If you overhear it in Orlando, tell that person they owe $100 to the SHRM Foundation. If a speaker uses it in a session, please tweet out the following phrase:
"(Insert speaker name here) owes $100 to the @shrmfoundation for saying "Seat at the table." #SHRM14 #SHRMShame"
5. Do NOT be Gwyneth Paltrow in "Contagion"
I know you are excited to be going to Orlando, and hanging with 13,000+ of your favorite HR friends. You may have already spent significant dollars on travel, hotel, Disney tickets, etc. However, if you are even remotely close to being ill, please consider staying home. It seems I get ill once every couple of years, and most likely I caught something from a sick person. So, do not be patient zero.
6. Do NOT, treat students with disrespect
This one goes out to the exhibit hall vendors. Ideally, every person who walks through the exhibit hall should be treated with respect. However, it is inevitable every year that my students will come back with horror stories about being treated rudely by someone manning an exhibit hall booth. I know you are there to make potential sales connections, and a student is unlikely to be a customer anytime soon. However, if these students are dedicated to travel to Orlando, they are dedicated to the profession, and will likely be a potential customer in the future. Don't burn a bridge before it has a chance to be constructed, as those students will remember who did them wrong!
7. Do NOT text or tweet and walk
There will be 13,000+ individuals in attendance at the Orlando Convention Center. When that General Session with Robin Roberts or Tom Friedman lets out, you and all your new friends will simultaneously be trying to get out of the hall and head to the next session, the bathroom, or to grab some coffee. Please do not start walking and stare down at your phone. I am excited that you have the Twitter, Facebook, or Hootsuite app, and you are using the #SHRM14 hashtag. But, inevitably, you will run into the back of someone. This will not be one of those "meet cute" scenarios you see in the movies. Instead, you will likely be called out because that person you just ran into will see your name on your badge.
8. Do NOT make me stand up & participate during your sessionIf you are a speaker and part of your schtick is to get me to do some activity as part of the session (particularly as a warm-up at the beginning), unless it magically causes me to lose 40 pounds, you will receive the lowest rating possible. It tells me you do not have enough material for the time required.
9. Do NOT wear your SHRM Conference badge at night.
As SHRM notes, wearing your badge outside of the convention center will peg you as a visitor from out of town and a target for crime. Even worse, many of you will likely heading to one of the bevy of parties they are out there. Bad behavior might ensue. Wearing your badge will likely make your name live in infamy as people mention your sordid exploits at future conferences. Try to drink in relative anonymity and leave your badge in your hotel room.
So, what else would you tell attendees NOT to do? Leave a note below, or tweet your suggestion to #SHRM14Festivus (h/t to Laurie Ruettimann for the hashtag). Also, check out the #SHRMChat twitter discussion this afternoon at 3:00 p.m./2:00 Central for all things #SHRM14 related. http://weknownext.com/blog/nextchat-the-shrm14-experience