Appreciate it, Support it, or Get Out | HR Fishbowl

Industry and Professional Trade Conferences have officially reached the status of “Sacred Cow.” Despite our country’s continued economic woes, professionals still find a way to pony up the 5 figure ($) registration, travel, lodging, and fun fees to attend their beloved conferences every year. My profession has National Conferences, Regional Conferences, State Conferences, Local Conferences. We have Strategy Conferences, Legal Conferences, Benefits Conferences, Compensation Conferences, Technology Conferences, Executive Conferences. HR Professionals are in love with Conferences.

I never used to give them a lot of time. My indifference grew primarily from working for companies that were never really all that interested in paying my way. But over the last couple of years – after almost 20 in this business – I’ve given them a second chance. And I am here today to tell you I am a converted conference goer. Yes, conferences are for learning. But they are also for connecting and communing. And if you think that’s not important to our profession, get the hell out of my profession.

My beloved town of Chicago is hosting this year’s Illinois SHRM Conference on August 22nd and 23rd. The conference organizers placed a huge bet this year and for the first time have a ceremonial emcee. The risk on that bet comes not from the concept of having the emcee, but from the fact that the emcee is me. Neither they nor I have any idea what we’ve gotten ourselves into. If nothing else, we’ll have some serious fun. And if you don’t think that’s important, get the hell out of my profession.

What amazes me about this conference is that there will be 750 people in attendance, it has the likes of Ryan Estis, Joe Gerstandt, Jason Lauritsen, China Gorman, Mike Vandervort, Jennifer McClure, Tim Sackett, Jason Seiden, Dwane Lay, Jessica Miller-Merrel, William Tincup all presenting and consulting, and it is coordinated entirely by volunteers. Volunteers! This is a big deal – a serious conference – and it’s all being done solely for the love of our profession. And if you don’t think that’s something special, then get the hell out of my profession.

If you’re in North Eastern Illinois next week or can get here pretty easily then stop by the Drury Lane in Oakbrook Terrace. If you’re not, find a way to support your local SHRM (or your favorite HR Professional Association); while you’re at it take a moment or three to thank the selfless volunteers who make it all possible. And if you can’t do that, get the hell out of my profession.

Image Credit: The Rat Trick

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