Recommended Human Resources Conferences To Attend in 2015

Recently, one of my contacts who is planning her 2015 schedule sent me a question asking for my recommendations for the top 2 – 3 conferences to attend in the US for HR professionals.

I am doing my planning for 2015 and wanted to reach out to you and get your thoughts on something if you don’t mind. One of my plans for next year is to attend more conferences in the US; ideally I’d like to attend events where there is a lot of networking, collaborating and great speakers.

Since there are so many events happening all the time, it’s hard for me to assess which ones are best. Do you have any recommendations for the top 2-3 conferences in the US for HR professionals – other than the annual SHRM conference in Las Vegas?

I shared my recommendations with her directly, but I thought I’d also share them with you – and get your recommendations too!

My Top 5 HR Conference Recommendations

1. 2015 SHRM Annual Conference (Las Vegas, NV)

I’m assuming my contact asked for recommendations other than the SHRM annual conference because it’s an obvious choice – and it is. If you’re an HR, talent acquisition or learning and development professional, you should definitely make plans to attend #shrm15. The sheer size (12,000 – 15,000 attendees) typically means there are numerous networking opportunities, the chance to visit and connect with vendors who provide every conceivable product or service in the industry, and a wide variety of speakers on topics ranging from compliance issues, to talent management, to personal growth, and strategic leadership.

I’ve attended the SHRM Annual Conference each of the last five years, and I’ve spoken at the last three. I wouldn’t miss it!

2. LinkedIn Talent Connect 2015 (Anaheim, CA)

If your organization uses LinkedIn (i.e. you have some level of paid LinkedIn Talent Solutions) as part of your recruiting and employer branding strategies, then I’d definitely recommend attending Talent Connect. At Talent Connect, you’ll find a high concentration of recruiting, sourcing and employer brand leaders, as well as quite a few HR professionals. The quality of attendees, great networking, informative content – and fun – makes it a must-attend event. In 2015, the main Talent Connect conference will be held in California, but there are also similar events in Sydney and London.

I’ve attended and spoken at four of the five Talent Connect conferences and it remains my personal favorite.

3. The Conference Board conferences (various)

To interact with senior-level leaders, typically from Fortune 500 companies, I’d recommend any of The Conference Board’s events. Their conferences are typically focused on specific aspects of human resources or talent management and are relatively small (maybe 100 – 300 attendees), but the content and caliber of attendees is great. While there is typically not much scheduled networking, there are plenty of opportunities to connect and learn from other attendees.

I’ve been a speaker or blogger at several of The Conference Board’s conferences in the past (Talent Management, Leadership Development, Employer Branding and Executive Coaching) and have always enjoyed their programming mix, which includes plenty of case studies shared by senior-level practitioners.

4. State or Regional SHRM Conferences

When I asked my network for recommendations, many enthusiastically put in a vote for their own state’s annual SHRM conference – and with good reason. (Specific shout outs were given for HR Florida, HR Southwest, ILSHRM, HR Indiana, HR West, OHSHRM, Strategic HR New England and WISHRM). State and regional conferences are a great place to network with peers and make good connections, and also offer a variety of content typically targeted at HR Generalists of all levels.

In 2014, I spoke at nine different state or regional SHRM-affiliated events, so I’m obviously a Fan. When I speak at a state SHRM conference, I try to attend as much of the programming as I can, because the networking and learning opportunities are often on par with many of the larger national events.

5. DisruptHR

As one of the organizers of the first Disrupt HR held in Cincinnati, OH back in December 2013, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend these events. Disrupt HR events are different than traditional conferences and are run by passionate local volunteer organizers. The team at BlackbookHR came up with the concept and assists each organizer by providing a framework for speaker submissions and sharing videos of the presentations online. To date, Disrupt HR events have been held in Cincinnati, Denver and Cleveland, with more planned for 2015.

I’ve given 2 talks at previous DisruptHR events (see my Awesomeness Is Not Accidental talk here) and love the format – 5 minute talks, 20 slides auto-advancing in 15 second intervals – content and energy. The attendees are typically an interesting mix of HR and recruiting practitioners, business leaders/owners and community leaders.

Recommendations From My Network

A quick poll of my Facebook network included many of the events listed above, as well as the following:

Achievers Customer Experience Conference (2015 San Francisco, CA)

Association for Training & Development International Conference (2015 Orlando, FL)

Dreamforce (2015 San Francisco, CA)

Equifax Workforce Solutions Forum (2015 New Orleans, LA)

Great Place to Work® Annual Conference (2015 Dallas, TX)

Halogen Customer Conference (2014 Washington, DC / 2015 TBA)

HRevolution (2014 Dallas, TX) / 2015 TBA)

HR Summit and Expo (2014 Dubai / 2015 TBA)

Human Capital Institute Events (various)

National SHRM Conferences (various)

Ultimate Software Connections Conference (2015 Las Vegas, NV)

Question: What are your top recommendations for conferences or events for human resources leaders – US or global? Please share them with me in the Comments!

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Unbridled Talent LLC is a consulting and advisory firm providing services to clients in the areas of leadership development, executive communication skills and talent strategy. Jennifer McClure offers keynotes, workshops and training that inspire and teach business leaders to be more effective in their careers and as leaders of their organization’s most valuable resource – people. Contact us to schedule an event or to discuss our strategic consulting and advisory services.