An exciting 2011 tradeshow lineup offers HR professionals a much-needed respite from the daily grind and an opportunity to recharge with new insights for their organizations. With keynotes such as SHRM's Sir Richard Branson, Las Vegas locations and a host of game-changing educational and trend sessions, this HR tradeshow season promises its fair share of high notes. 

Time to hit the road? How to make the most of your HR trade show experience

An exciting 2011 tradeshow lineup offers HR professionals a much-needed respite from the daily grind and an opportunity to recharge with new insights for their organizations. With keynotes such as SHRM's Sir Richard Branson, Las Vegas locations and a host of game-changing educational and trend sessions, this HR tradeshow season promises its fair share of high notes.

Don't just pack and go -- get inspired

"In the crowded and frenetic atmosphere of a trade show, you don't want to find yourself wandering aimlessly and hoping you're not missing the bigger, better presentation at the other end of the exhibit hall," says Thomas Parker, Ceridian trade show and event manager. "A strategic approach and a little planning can go a long way."

Choose your portfolio of tradeshow events

"Attending a mix of world-class shows in your market combined with precision-targeted, smaller industry events can reap immeasurable benefits," says Parker. Ceridian participates in 40 to 50 tradeshows each year, including the big three: SHRM's Annual Conference, APA's Annual Congress and HR Tech.

The mega industry shows can be exciting and fun, and you'll likely return to your office with lots of new ideas and brochures. An event at a venue that hosts only a few hundred C-level executives, however, can net business leaders leisurely face time with other A-list HR decision makers. Smaller events can also offer unparalleled networking opportunities among HR peers.

Five tips to rock a tradeshow
  1. Prioritize your goals in an electronic or hard-bound journal.
    • Attend leading-edge educational sessions.
    • Score the best giveaway gifts.
    • Stay on top of key trends.
    • Watch exciting keynote speakers.
    • Meet other HR professionals.
    • View the live demonstrations.
    • Check out new products/services.
  2. Lay out your show itinerary.
    • Print out or link to the tradeshow brochure.
    • Circle the educational and keynote sessions you plan to attend.
    • Select the vendors you wish to visit.
    • Identify which new product lines you'd like to demo.
    • Check out orientation sessions and receptions you'd like to include.
    • Schedule any business meetings with colleagues you plan to meet up with.
    • Map out your route and times.
  3. Get your networking game down.
    • Polish and practice your 30-second elevator speech.
    • Arrive 15 minutes early for registration and sessions so that you can set a calm and peaceful tone for the day.
    • Write follow-up notes on the back of people's business cards and file the cards for action on your return to the office.
    • If you're looking to mingle with the industry leaders, arrive at the venue 30 minutes early and sit in the front row. Some keynote speakers enjoy sharing lunch with attendees, so consider extending an invite.
  4. Make the rounds.
    • Check off the items on your list.
    • Record your orders and appointments.
    • Double-check all follow-up action items in your journal.
  5. Remember to follow up with vendors or leads within one week of your return.

Would you like to know how to connect with us at the HR tradeshows this year? We'll answer any questions you may have, show you live demos of our latest products and register you for exciting prizes. See you on the floor!