I admit it. I’m an info junkie. When I’m handed a book or a magazine I’ll likely lose myself in it for a few hours. My Google reader overflows with 100s and 100s of subscriptions. I devour news articles like a hungry man just back from a 24 hour fast. I consume content and want to read, hear, know and ultimately understand and use that new information and knowledge.
I also admit I’m somewhat of an HR conference geek and attend as many conferences as possible; I’ve even been known to use personal time and funds to attend some over the years. Yet I’m also fortunate to work for an organization where we live values that reflect our desire for continued Excellence by supporting and encouraging continuous learning and development. We have an understanding that allowing people to continue to develop and refine their individual professional capabilities returns incredible value to the entire organization.
So putting these two things together it seems pretty much a natural fit that I would make every effort to attend the LASHRM State Conference. But for me, the actual conference itself is just one piece of the larger pie. Oh sure, I come home with updates and information that I use as reference years later – just the other day I pulled out some 2011 session notes for reference when thinking through a situation/scenario at work. But the greatest return, for me, is the ongoing collaboration that results from my attendance at any conference.
Defined as working together to achieve a common goal, collaboration is often more creative in nature and, dare I say, a bit more organic, than the typical “inside-our-companies” process. A collaborative venture may involve just a few people, or a larger group, who work together to share knowledge, learn together and build consensus. But just as happens “inside-our-companies,” as an outgrowth of the conference experience, we have the opportunity to share/coordinate a variety of ideas from numerous people thus further generating an ever-expanding array of knowledge for ourselves as HR professionals.
What happens, quite naturally, at the LASHRM Conference is that I make connections with people. I have conversations, I mingle and network and interact with both the speakers and with my fellow HR professionals from across the state. But I don’t leave those relationships at the doors of the conference venue – I take them home with me. And what occurs is I begin to collaborate with those people. If I see or meet a speaker who has a book or a blog or is active in online social media communities, I keep that connection going. We collaborate. When I meet a fellow HR pro from another part of the state we remain in contact and down the road can share ideas or insight with each other. We collaborate.
Attending the LASHRM State Conference is not a terminal event for me; something to be crossed off my calendar with an attitude of “that was good/fun/interesting, now I can put it out of my mind until next year.” Oh sure, I like the fact that I can receive HRCI re-certification credits. I enjoy a stroll or two through the Expo Hall. The afternoon refreshment break is always a highlight as there is usually chocolate of some sort being served.
But the greater value for me at any conference is the opportunity it provides for conversation. And collaboration.
Today’s post is by Robin Schooling, SPHR, who is a Vice President of HR in Baton Rouge. She blogs at HR Schoolhouse and you can also find her hanging out at Women of HR and SHRM’s We Know Next blog. Robin serves on the LASHRM State Conference Committee so does have a bit of skin-in-the-game for the success of the conference.