I just wrapped my 7th SHRM Annual Conference, and my first as a member of the SHRM Blog Squad. This conference has stretched me more than any development event I have ever been to. And it wasn't the sessions, it wasn't the Smart Stage talks or the General Sessions that really made the most impact. Those were all great, don't get me wrong. But the most impactful thing for me was the connections that I made with my fellow attendees.
For those of you who don't know me, I'm a serious introvert. Left to my own devices, I will probably pick a seat in the back of the room (so I can leave early if I'm bored or overwhelmed), take my notes, and leave. And that was my conference experience up until a few years ago. And I think that's probably the experience for most conference and seminar attendees. But you miss out on so many opportunities to create connections.
The turning point for me was getting involved on Twitter. There is a vibrant HR community on there of people who want to connect, want to learn and foster growth in themselves and others. Whether it's participating in Twitter chats, sharing ideas and stories about successes and failures, supporting others through difficult situations, or just swapping an amusing story or two, these people are the embodiment of what it means to be in HR. They're connectors. They're listeners. They're coaches. They may not realize it, but that's what they are.
I've changed in these past 2 years. I'll sit down next to someone and have a conversation. I would never have done that before. I would probably have immersed myself in my iPhone until the presentation started, to ward off anybody in my immediate area who might be getting the crazy idea of talking to me. The horror of it, honestly. Now, I go up to people that I've met online and give them a hug and say "Hi". It's hard for me to put into words how NOT me that is. But it is me.
So in Jerry Springer style, here's my final thought. People are relationship-driven. We can't survive in a vacuum. Learning, personal growth, educational opportunities, all these things are worth nill if you don't have people in your life who you can go to. Go to for assistance, go to for perspective, go to for guidance, go to to vent, or go to just to commiserate with someone who understands what they're going through. I've found that group of people. These people have changed me for the better. They've brought me out of my shell. They've shown me a path forward. And to them, I owe so much. #SHRM18 #HRTribe