Getting the most of out the HR Tech 2017 event
HR Tech 2017 is about to hit the Excel in London for its 3rd year. It’s a great event, and as I have attended the previous two years, I thought it might be useful to share a few insights for first-timers attending. If you’ve been to other conferences, HR Tech will follow the same format as the others with high-profile keynote speakers, break-out sessions, a vendor exhibition and of course lots of attendees with a shared interest in HR tech. But there are a few things you can do to ensure you get some real results from attending.
Be clear on your reasons for attending
Take some time to consider what it is that you want to get out of the conference. Even write them down in your notebook if that works for you and regularly revisit them throughout the day. It might be that you want to meet five new people or look at three software providers you’ve never seen before or to ask a question in a Q&A session. Whatever it is, be clear on the purpose before you start. Once you know your objectives, plan your sessions. Take time to look at the agenda and use the app to plan your two days. Making last minute decisions on where to go next is not ideal.
Ditch the introvert
You will get years worth of information from all the vendors and speakers, but the real wealth of knowledge will come from the hundreds of attendees who are all there for similar reasons to you. But you will only tap into that knowledge if you dig deep to find that extrovert lurking inside you and speak to people. It’s not easy initiating a conversation with strangers, and most of us struggle to do this (me included), but fake it until you make it. Most people feel uncomfortable in these situations so get yourself prepared and think of conversation starters, e.g. How’s your day going? What brought you here today? Did you enjoy the keynote? Did you have to travel far? Queues for coffee or even the toilet are often good networking opportunities. Use them all!
Practice your elevator pitch
Most people will reach out with the usual “so what do you do?”. Don’t cut off the conversation bysimply telling them your job title and company (they can get that from your name badge). Prepare your answer to include a little about your role, your company and why you are at the event. It will help continue the conversation.
If you plan to visit vendors for demos, I’d advise spending some time looking at the exhibitor list to be clear on who you want to see. If you can, book those sessions in advance. But keep an open mind and allow some time to sit through demos of software providers you don’t know. Even if its not what you are looking for, it will help raise questions about functionality and provide a comparison. My biggest tip is to write notes and, if the vendor allows, take photos of key screens as a reminder. However good your memory, by demo three they will all start to merge into one, and you’ll struggle to remember what they look like. Think about the key questions you want to ask each vendor. I have developed a crib sheet which you might find useful as a starting point and can be used during demos to take notes.
The hygiene factors
Other than knowing the password for the wifi I would advise to take some water with you or grab any free water that vendors are giving away. I’ve often found I’ve gone for hours with nothing but coffee. And wear comfortable shoes. HR Tech is split across a number of levels, and you cannot avoid significant amounts of walking and standing around during meal times. And finally, enjoy it!
Helen Armstrong is the Managing Director of Silver Cloud HR and an active promoter of women in tech. Silver Cloud is an independent HRIS consultancy providing support to some of the UKs most successful mid-sized businesses. Silver Cloud support customers with system selection and project management of HRIS implementations. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.