There are many reasons one might attend SHRM's annual conference: the sessions, the spectacle, the ability to interact with 10,000 of your peers from around the world, etc. All of these are valuable justifications for the trip, but the single most valuable reason may be this - connecting with your bros.
Now bear with me a moment. I'm not being gender specific here. Ladies can be bros too. I'm using the term loosely to define friends we accumulate in our space. In today's connected world where we can easily find, follow, engage, and interact over social media - we have a unique opportunity to expand our networks online before meeting in real-life (IRL for the Twitter folks). When meeting in real-life, the opportunity to turn followers/friends into bros becomes real and lasting.
So, why bros? Why does this matter? Your network is as valuable as any bit of information you may have in your head or can provide to your employer. Why? Collective intellect. When you have a network of subject matter experts in a variety of HR disciplines you can tap into at any time; that's valuable, that's powerful. That's why it's so important to invest in these relationships. That's why you need bros in different area codes.
This is my second SHRM National event. In my first event last year, I was a wide-eyed newbie with a hunger to connect but not much in the way of contacts or relationships in the HR social media space. I spent the conference balancing my time between sessions and working to meet as many people who I respected and appreciated what they gave to the HR community as possible. In the following months I continued and expanded conversations with many of them; turning social media connections to friends and friends to bros.
So, while you're wandering the massive halls of SHRM12 and filling your head with all of the great content the speakers are sharing; be sure to make time for networking. There are few opportunities out there to tap into such a broad and deep network of HR professionals. Sieze it. Build your bros. The value in these relationships will last long after the closing keynote. Just ask my bro Pam and my new bro Ike.