The 2010 SHRM Annual Conference is officially in the bag and after making my way back across the country, I’ve taken some time to reflect on the conference, the experience and what I took away from it all. There will be more information to share in the coming days, but as someone who attends quite a few conferences, I can safely say that this was one of the best that I’ve been to!
To share some of the highlights of my experience, I thought I’d give out some Awards – all voted on and selected by a committee comprised of yours truly. So without further adieu, I present to you, the first annual (assuming I get to go back) SHRMmys!
Category: General Session/Keynote Speakers
Best Keynote Speaker – Marcus Buckingham. If you’re a fan of the strengths-based movement, have read any of Buckingham’s books or have seen or heard him speak before, Marcus didn’t share anything new. What he did do was focus his talk on the audience (HR pros) in an entertaining and engaging way. It doesn’t hurt that he’s pretty handsome, speaks with an English accent and used lots of humor. The ladies weren’t the only ones who noticed. There were quite a few Marcus #fanboys in attendance as well.
Most Surprising Speaker – Al Gore. The former “next President of the United States” skipped the Power Point for his keynote on the second day and won over the audience with a talk that was about 75% focused on challenges and issues that businesses and HR pros are facing today. He lost a little momentum when he moved into sustainability and global warming, but that was brief and not unexpected for a guy who won a Pulitzer Prize and an Oscar for his work in that area.
Rising Star – Ray Jefferson. In his brief moment before the keynote by Steve Forbes, Mr. Jefferson was well-spoken and inspiring, speaking directly to the audience and calling for HR to make a difference by hiring our nation’s Heroes. “In this time where it’s critical to do more with less, it’s more important than ever to hire great talent.” More than a few attendees suggested that Mr. Jackson would have been a better choice for the opening session speaker.
Best Speaker at Some Other Conference – Steve Forbes. Someone forgot to tell Steve that this was the largest HR conference in the world, not a stop on his 1996 or 2000 Presidential bid tours. We definitely need to understand business/economic issues in HR, but an inspirational/actionable keynote this was not.
Category: Exposition Hall
Best Booth – Since I was a part of the #monsterlive Social Media Street Team, I’ll recuse myself here, but let’s just say the Monster booth was pretty awesome. Check out my Behind the Scenes Tour of the Monster.com SHRM10 booth before the Expo Hall opened and I’ll let you be the judge.
Most Intriguing Booth – Corporate Lactation Services, Inc. With a tag line like “Professional Excellence in Corporate Lactation”, what’s not to love about this entry? In my book, they deserve an Award just for that.
Best Swag – iPads dominated the giveaways and drawings, but branded USB’s, hand sanitizer and carryalls useful to haul tons of swag that can be repurposed as “green” grocery bags ranked high on my list.
Most Coveted Swag – The focused swag grabbers quickly headed for the headgear (Dr. Suess style hats, toboggans, crowns, etc.), Hawaiian leis and Monster Trump dolls. Where this stuff ends up is anyone’s guess, but on Sunday night, they were “must-have” items.
Lamest Swag – Nothing says “we’re in the low budget section” like having a booth full of pens, key chains and refrigerator magnets. My recommendation? Spend less money next year and buy one i__ (insert name of hot Apple product) and do a drawing for a giveaway. You get names for lead generation and up your cool factor exponentially.
Category: Event Coverage
Best Official Event Coverage – SHRM. From the official Conference Daily’s waiting outside hotel room doors in the morning to General Session opening videos (including 3 attendee’s journeys to the event, the opening session Flash Mob and Undercover Boss with SHRM CEO Lon O’Neil and Board Chair Robb Van Cleave) – everything was top-notch. SHRM also embraced social media coverage this year with the implementation of the first “official SHRM Blog Squad”, the first tweet from the SHRM CEO and SHRM10TV “On the Couch” interviews with Manager of PR & Social Media Relations Curtis Midkiff in the Social Media Lounge.
Best Video Coverage – The SmartBrief.com/Monster.com Interview series. SmartBrief Senior Editor on Workforce Mary Ellen Slayter and the MonsterThinking crew teamed up to offer a high-quality, informative and well-done video interview series with HR thought leaders, authors and bloggers like Libby Sartain, Gerry Crispin, Dave Ulrich, Nicole Williams and more. Extremely well done and a great resource archive!
Best Social Media Coverage – Monster.com went all out this year to provide coverage for SHRM10 from an attendee’s point of view through blogging, vlogging and tweeting. Ben Eubanks and I were fortunate to be a part of the #monsterlive Social Media Street team and were encouraged to tweet, blog, video and comment on the conference activities in our own voices and as practitioners to provide a sense of what it was like to be there for those unable to attend. I was super impressed with the planning and effort that went into the Street Team coverage, as well as the participation of the Monster crew – SVP of Global Communications & Social Media Janet Swaysland, VP of Client Adoption Eric Winegardner, Director of Social Media Relations Kathy O’Reilly, Social Media Relations Manager Matt Charney and Manager, Client Training Lisa Watson – and therefore can’t take them out of the running for the top prize in this category just because I was involved. Well done!
Rising Stars – Laurie Ruettimann and Jennifer McClure. (Yay!) While trolling the Expo Hall on the first night doing video interviews with attendees, Laurie and I happened upon SHRM Board Chairman Robb Van Cleave and snagged an exclusive interview with him, where we “broke news” about the next day’s General Session speaker. I’m sure he’ll never forget us and will always cherish the sombrero that Laurie gifted him with at the end. As budding serious journalists, we’re now looking for Agents to handle all of the requests for live event coverage…
Best Blog Coverage – Charlie Judy of HR Fishbowl and John Hollon of TLNT.com. A fixture in the Press Lounge with headphones and game face, Charlie was on fire covering the event with speedy and insightful commentary and observations. John Hollon brings a seasoned journalist slant to his coverage of the conference each year ripping Steve Forbes, praising Al Gore and summing up his thoughts in straightforward posts.
Most Tweets – For sheer volume, it was a close race between Jessica Miller-Merrell of Blogging4Jobs.com and myself. Hopefully, our followers and those keeping up with the #shrm10 hashtag found some value in the volumes of information and observations that we shared.
Best Twitter Coverage – Eric Winegardner and Mark Stelzner. It’s always a pleasure to follow Eric and Mark at any event that they attend. Both are able to provide useful, informative, critical and often hilarious insights in 140 characters or less. Favorite tweets include Eric’s observation following SHRM CEO Lon O’Neil’s Tweetup announcement and Mark heading off the rails during a “social media is evil” session.
Funniest Tweets – Laurie Ruettimann. Laurie’s Twitter stream is a riot most any day, but at conferences, she can be particularly fun to follow. She does a great job of sharing her cynical and educated views in few words and hilarious photos on Twitter.
Category: Social/Networking Events
Best Party – The SHRM / Monster Social Tweetup & Afterparty. This was the first year for SHRM to hold a Tweetup and they teamed with the Tweetup experts – Monster.com. From the bacon chocolate cupcakes, drinks with glowing neon ice cubes, swag bags for attendees and lively networking, this event was first class in every way. Check out photos from the evening and see for yourself.
Best Entertainment – Hall & Oates. For all of the pre-conference bashing that the Hall & Oates choice received, there were plenty of attendees who were jazzed about showing up to hear the duo sing classics such as Private Eyes, Maneater and Rich Girl. While I didn’t personally care to relive the 80’s by attending, those who did all had a great time.
So there you have it, my picks for the 2010 SHRM Annual Conference. If you’re a winner, we’re reducing our carbon footprint and going “green” this year, so consider this a virtual high five for your efforts.
Overall, it was a well-organized event in a fantastic location. I’m already looking forward to SHRM 2011 in Las Vegas!
What Awards did I miss? Award some of your own in the Comments!