What We Wish We'd Known About The HR Tech Conference

8/17/17 4:51 PM Anna Duin RFP Issuing

Chicago_Arial.jpgHR Tech.pngIf you're reading this, you're probably going to the Human Resource and Technology Exp and Conference in a few weeks (if so, please stop by booth #3436 and say hi) or are planning to go in future.

As you know, the event is huge, it's very exciting, and can also be very overwhelming.

So, what do you need to know before you go? 

That depends. Are you looking for a handy packing list? Wondering how an introvert could possible survive attend the show? Or are you looking for general advice such as a friend might give? 

If it's the latter, then here's what the RFP365 team learned about the HR Tech Conference the hard way, plus some brilliant trade show tips from professional event planners.

 

HR Tech Conference Dont's

  • First off, ladies, for the love of all that is good and holy, please don't wear steep high heels. 

After all, not only is the conference itself huge, but being Vegas you'll likely want to sightsee and network a bit at the after-parties as well. In other words you'll be doing a lot of walking. I've seen too many women wincing with each step, and desperately changing into flip flops. (Prone to blisters like me? These are amazing.

  • Don't eat with your team. 

While it's tempting to stay with people you know, you'll be missing out. Even if you loathe the word "networking," it's a once-a-year chance to meet some pretty impressive people. Don't know how to get the conversation going? Check out these great openers

  • Don't wing it.

Especially when it comes to transportation, team meetups times, or important dinners, this was a life saving lesson from Third Avenue Events

They taught us to create "event guides" including a detailed team itinerary and essentials like flight numbers, hotel confirmations, restaurants and coffee shops within walking distance of our hotel. 

Because even if you modify or scrap the plan, just having one can save you big headaches. 

  • Don't try to have it all. 

You only have so much time. Trying to attend every session and event will only make you distracted, cranky, and prone to illness. 

Set clear priorities and build from there. What can you not bear to miss?

  

HR Tech Conference Do's

  • Do ask "what's your problem?" 

Events like HR Tech are the perfect time to pick the brains of your peers. Ask yourself what problem or challenge you're struggling with that you'd love input on?

Personally, I love dispensing with chit chat as soon as possible and moving straight to high-level strategies. When I meet other Marketers I ask them specific questions about how what metrics they monitor, what books/blogs they're reading, and how they prioritize their time.

Once you've identified a key challenge, ask for input. Ask speakers during Q&A sessions or a stranger over lunch. 

  • Do "attend at least one session you think you may never use at work." 

We love this great tip from Trish McFarlane. As she so eloquently said "People tend to gravitate to what we already know so by taking this approach you are forcing yourself to open up to a different topic or way of approaching work situations." 

  • Do download and use the show app and/or planner.

The show usually has a special mobile-friendly website page and/or smart phone app to manage agenda planning. They are fantastic, they make it easy to connect with people at the show, find things on the map, and manage your itinerary. Keep an eye out for this year's option because it's the fastest way to get updates and schedule your sessions.

  • Do pack some secret weapons.
We recommend tons of breath mints (a networking must), Tide stain sticks, super glue, portable chargers, and mini sewing kits.


Tips for exhibitors

  • If you're new to exhibiting, consider hiring a professional.

Two years ago was our first HR Tech conference. It was our first time exhibiting at such a large show and so we decided to make a very wise investment, we hired professional event planners to help us get ready. And it made all the difference. 

  • Attend conference sessions even if you don't work directly within the industry.

It will help you understand your customers. You get to hear firsthand about your target market's core problems and goals. The more you understand their needs and objectives, they more relevant you'll be. 

  • Compression dress socks are a must.

From added circulation on the plane ride, to helping you survive the long expo hours on your feet, they're an absolute life saver. (See our favorites here and here.) 

  • Drink some cocktails. 

While it may be cliche to say to "go to the after-parties," it's genuinely good advice. Why? Because it's a lot easier to make a real connection in the less crowded and/or less formal settings.

Some of our best conversations have happened over meals, in the lobby, and post-expo drinks. 

  • Schedule booth shifts.

This was a mistake we made early on. Our lack of clear plan or assignments resulting in too many people crammed into our (small) booth. Which was not only awkward for us, but also made talking to us pretty intimidating. 

We hope you found our experiences helpful. If you're coming to the HR Tech conference this October we'd love to meet you. Look for RFP365 at booth #3436. 


 

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*Image credit: James Walsh on Unsplash