This (chilly) morning began with over 45,000 participants toeing the start line for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Elsewhere across the nation, approximately one-tenth that number of HR industry professionals continued their preparations for the market’s preeminent event for getting business done, the 15th Annual HR Technology Conference and Exposition.
As I watched the elite runners captivate 1.7 million spectators across this great city, I couldn’t help but wonder what lessons they could bring to those about to endeavor on their own conference marathon.
Just as you don’t stroll up to a 26.2 mile challenge having never taken a stride, you don’t drop into HR Tech without a game plan. With hundreds of exhibitors in the Expo hall, dozens of sessions and an endless number of briefings, parties and informal meetings, it is in your best interests to make the most of this experience.
Keep Track of Your Progress
For those boarding planes or just arriving, your best onsite tool is the HR Tech mobile app. This is the GPS of the HR Tech experience and includes session descriptions, a map of the Expo hall, the live Twitter feed and a number of other must-have features for navigating the event.
“Agony of defeat” reels show many a runner having made the mistake of looking back. I’d ask you to shed any preconceived notions of what HR was and instead use this experience as an unprecedented opportunity to peer in the crystal ball of what could be. As this is an HR technology event, you may be overwhelmed by the progress our industry has made in any number of functional areas. By keeping your eyes forward you may see something these next few days that seemed unrealistic or even implausible in the past.
Find Your Supporters
Having been on both sides of retaining fences, there is nothing more electric than the cheer of the crowd. At HR Tech, the atmosphere is often the same. And despite the fact that you can find thousands of industry luminaries/peers that you actually want to meet, most attendees end up in small pods of isolation, or worse, heads down on their smart phone. Whether you know it or not, your supporters are among the huddled masses; if you find them it will provide a charge you might dearly need. Follow the #HRTechConf hashtag on Twitter to locate those who can help.
Beat Your PR
In running parlance, this is your personal record. At HR Tech, it is getting past the press releases to attain a level of understanding and specificity that allows you to put the content of what you’re hearing in the context of your organizational reality. New HR technology acronyms will hit you faster than the infamous Mile 19 wall – if you stay focused and remember your training you can push through.
Join Me (Live or Virtually)
It’s going to be an incredibly busy few days here in Chicago. I’ll do my best to provide live coverage on Twitter and encourage attendees to join me on Tuesday for my CHRO panel, “Benefits in a Time of Uncertainty“. I’m not shy about the fact that this is my favorite industry event. Like our heroic marathoners, if you double lace your shoes, hydrate and keep moving you will absolutely thrive. I’ll see you online/at the show.