Last week, I had the privilege to speak at the 2013 North Carolina SHRM Conference as a concurrent speaker. It was the first time I would present at a conference without a major social media push and presence. It also wasn’t an environment where my reputation preceded me through my writing or through my daily work. My session was selected based totally on my proposal — and I felt especially proud about that!
As I made the 2-hour drive from Raleigh to Winston-Salem, the pressure to produce and rise to meet the moment began to descend on me though. I always want to do well as a presenter, but I wanted to do especially well this time … This was my home state’s conference — yet it was an environment where no one knew me. My content and expertise had to set the atmosphere.
It was time to prove my chops! I was a little scared.
It wasn’t long after my arrival that I realized I was in a different environment. I really didn’t know many people and hardly anyone knew me. I didn’t know where to gather to meet people. I felt lost. I spent my night alone in my room, chatting with my PIC friends on Facebook and tweaking my presentation.
Once the conference actually kicked off, it was great!! It was just like any other conference. I loved the SMART format of the sessions — where each of the concurrents fell under Strategy, Motivation, Advocacy, Relationships or Technology. It made it easy to select sessions of interest. I loved the ease of finding my way around the center. I loved that the volunteers were visible and helpful. I loved that the exhibit hall was organized, open and full of local vendors. And I loved the sessions were conducted by local talent — including many actual, current HR practitioners. It restored my faith in the profession that I love and made me want to be more locally involved.
Still I missed the extra spice and excitement that social media adds while I was at NC SHRM 2013. All the great content that was shared didn’t have the reach it could have. That’s where social media presence at our HR conferences make the difference. We don’t have to rely on the memory and note-taking of others when we can’t attend. Through social media, we are able to learn and participate both in real-time and in retrospect. And as much as I and a few others tried to share, post and tweet, two or three people alone couldn’t cover it all. That was a missed opportunity for the conference that I hope to see and help them take advantage of in the future.
I also missed getting a conference bag. Speakers didn’t get a bag. I was bummed cuz they were so cute! Maybe next time …