The first time I tweeted

Hot off the heels of #SHRM18 and I have to share that I’ve been quite sappy about it!

sappy

First reason being because Chicago is where it all started for me. #SHRM13 was the first time I was invited to be a part of the bloggers team and I was absolutely overwhelmed with the experience. I was introduced to so many wonderful, intelligent HR professionals from different industries and backgrounds, heard speakers that I probably never would have heard otherwise, went to Chicago for the first time, played a pretty fun kickball game with complete strangers for a good cause, went to a party where DJ Jazzy Jeff was the entertainment and saw firsthand how important it is for #HR professionals to have other #HR people in their circle. I was welcomed into a group of people who were trying to do good HR and help others do the same. The other reason being how twitter changed everything for my professional development and career path. Seriously.

kickball2013

The first time I tweeted was at an Alabama SHRM State conference back in 2012. The conference organizers had set up two screens in the main session room that would scroll through tweets of people using their hashtag in real-time. I sat close to the front and kept seeing the same few tweets over and over from two, maybe three people ( I have determined two were April Dowling and Pam Werstler). I was uncomfortable, I was slightly embarrassed for the conference organizers (I had empathy for conference organizers far before I ever helped organize a conference) and decided to pull my phone out and create a twitter so I could start tweeting about the session. It didn’t help much, but I was doing my part to throw some variety on the tweet screen set-up. My plan was to delete my twitter after the conference, but I didn’t. I’m so glad I didn’t.

Fast forward to today and I’m connected to thousands of #HR professionals across the globe via twitter. I interact with hundreds of them regularly, call some of them my friends, and have used them as resources when I need fresh perspectives on a challenge or some expert guidance. I’ve been inspired by #HR pros on twitter, I’ve been furious because of some of the content from #HR pros, I’ve been a voice in the conversation for our profession thanks to twitter, and I’ve listened to other voices of our profession, also thanks to twitter. I’ve found mentors through this social media tool, role models, people who are smarter than me, people who also make mistakes, people who are better writers than me, people who have experienced things I have not, people who love me, and some people who don’t. I find updates in the legal realm of HR via twitter, I get to see takeaways from events and conferences in real-time via twitter, I see people helping others solve their challenges through twitter, and one time I met Boyd Tinsley because of twitter. He’s a hugger, as you can see below. Good things happen on twitter.

 

Good things happen on twitter if you let them. All things that can be used for good can also be used for bad (or even evil). In my experience the good outweighs the bad. If you are still hesitant to get on twitter, try it for 30 days. If you are afraid that your employees will see what you are tweeting, make your account private. If you go the route of private you can control who follows you, but I recommend putting HR in your bio so other HR pros can tell they should follow you back when you follow them. You can also practice “what if my boss reads this” or “what if employees read this” and screen your own tweets. Believe it or not, there are some things I want to tweet that I actually never hit send on. If you are afraid of being yourself out there and feel the need to make an anonymous account that works for some people, but I think you’ll have a hard time building real relationships that route and you are really missing out if you can’t build real relationships.

All this to say that really I’ve experienced so much because of my first tweet. I really believe that if it weren’t for the opportunity to connect and build relationships via twitter, my career would’ve stalled out years ago. I would’ve learned far less than I have and had a much smaller network of HR friends and colleagues to cheer me on and challenge me to be better. I’ve had opportunities to speak to groups, write for other companies, travel to new cities, etc. and all of that can be traced back to my first tweet!

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Preparing for #SHRM14

Lessons learned from #SHRM13

No need for any t-shirts in your bag, you can pick plenty of those puppies up at vendor booths at the conference, but my favorite conference swag is books, the rest of that stuff is probably not necessary. I intend to leave room in my suitcase for books and that’s it.

Come a day before conference starts. It’s easy to check in and get out the day before conference starts. Checking in the day of will mean lines, long lines! Coming the day before also allows you to take time to get the lay of the land. Also check into public transit. C’mon people, don’t take a cab everywhere!

Wear comfortable shoes. Nothing says newbie like stylish uncomfortable shoes. Don’t be foolish. We all know we are doing a lot of walking so don’t think twice about pairing some comfy tennis shoes with your trendy office attire. And really, dress how you feel comfortable. There is no dress code and you’ll see everything from professional dress to jeans and t-shirts.

Take a water bottle with you. There was several water stations set up through the conference location, but small cups. It wouldn’t hurt to take a bottle with you (or buy one in the SHRM store) so you can easily tote water around with you.

Bring your charger to the conference. There will be charging stations.

Get your Twitter thumbs ready! #SHRM13 made it to a trending topic on Twitter this year so we hope to do it again in 2014! *If you do not have a Twitter I highly recommend setting it up before the conference. Twitter is a good tool for your note taking and a great way to follow the Speakers at the conference and the other HR pros you meet there.

Review the sessions ahead of time. If you’re going with people you know talk to them about splitting up and sharing notes from different sessions. This will help you make the most of the sessions and force you to network with new people. Each of you may want to choose up to 3 topics for one session in case you need to make changes for logistics or overflow reasons. So much to hear, so little time.

Take a hard copy of your session calendar with you in case of spotty Wi-Fi.

Be realistic. You probably will not be able to last all day every single day. I recommend deciding if you want to go early or stay late. If you go to a 7am session don’t overdo it and stay through a 4pm session too. Because of this, get plenty of rest leading up to conference time! Bobbi explained it like this, “the flow of the conference is more like a sprint than a marathon, prepare accordingly”. Furthermore, pencil in down time on your schedule. This will allow you to stay fresh! You will also learn from talking with your fellow conference goers so realize the value in connecting with your fellow HR pros!

Meet with some vendors. Not just enter to win. I recommend really looking at the vendor list before you get there and deciding who you may utilize (whether it be for now or in the future) at your organization and make the most of your time at the conference. You never know what you may learn from a vendor or what idea it can spark. And after all, without vendors we really wouldn’t have as great of a conference. So pick 2 or 3 that you like and start from there.

Take notes. Really take notes that you can take back to your organization and present. Make this conference a resource for your organization, not just for yourself.

RSVP to some parties! I worked as a waitress for a LONG time and I always said servers had the best parties. Boy was I wrong; HR people know how to party! I had a blast! Don’t party? Still go! Network! Get free food! Ditch the place before too many drinks have been consumed! 🙂

Last, but certainly not least, if you sign up now for #SHRM14 in Orlando you can save yourself (or your company) some dollars! Pop on over to the shrm.org website and check it out!

Some of my super cool HR network. Check out Angelas comfy shoes!
Some of my super cool HR buddies! Check out Angela’s comfy shoes!

Do you have any “prepping for annual conference” tips? Leave them in the comments!