It’s that time of year. Your Human Capital Management (HCM) software vendors are peppering you with invitations to attend their user conference.
You go to HR conferences all the time, but many of you may not think of these user conferences when you’re putting together your conference attendance budget.
Why is that? Is it because you think they won’t be “real” conferences? Is it because you think your vendor will try to upsell you? Is it because you can’t think of anything worse than attending a conference that’s all about increasing the effectiveness of your use of software?
Well, if any of these are true, let me help you reconsider.
Here are eight (8) great reasons why I think you should consider attending your HCM vendor’s user conference:
1. Preview new releases and software upgrades
Many vendors introduce new features, releases and products at their user conferences. They love giving their current and almost-customers first views of new offerings. Will they try to upsell you? Maybe. But that’s OK when you consider the context.
Becoming acquainted with new products from their rock star CEO on center stage is a fun way to learn. Becoming acquainted with new features in a conference classroom full of other users with an enthusiastic product or sales guy/gal giving a soft sell is not a bad way to learn.
You can ask questions, or not. You can take in the new upgrade/product information without any pressure.
2. Create relationships with the vendors’ executives
Talking with the CEO, head of Marketing, head of Product, and head of Technology can provide you with insights you can’t get any other way — and will provide insights that they really need from you!
What’s the one “fix” you want to see in the next release? Here’s your chance to share that with the people who can make things happen.
3. Meet other users in your industry
Discussing the software with other users in your industry or in same-sized organizations can be eye-opening, particularly if your organization is a prospect or new user. Hearing how the software really works and how to avoid adoption challenges can save you time and money.
And if your business is growing and you want to know how the product works in other countries, this is the time and place to find out from real users.
4. Meet your account executive’s boss
If you haven’t met your AE’s boss, this can be the time to give candid feedback about how the relationship is going and where you might need help — or how great she is and how she’s saved your career.
Just being practical here: it’s better to already have a relationship with that executive before you need it.
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5. Improve your user skills
Do you really know everything about the software? Really? Could you teach the skills sessions at the conference? If so, then you should submit a speaker proposal for a session at next year’s conference.
And this year? Attend those sessions just to verify that you haven’t forgotten anything from your training and aren’t overlooking key features in your implementation.
6. Earn re-certification credits
Most HCM software user conferences have great keynotes and really strong session content that isn’t specifically sales, product, or software-oriented. I speak at several HCM user conferences each year on topics like Change Management, HR and Early Adoption, and Employee Engagement.
This fall I’m speaking at the Halogen Software Conference on HR and Early Adoption — and my session has been approved for one (1) hour of re-certification credit from HR Certification Institute. In fact, the Halogen conference now offers more than 20 hours of HRCI recertification credit over three days.
7. It’s a real conference!
- Impressive hotel/conference venue?
- Professionally managed production values?
- Inspiring keynote presentations by notable speakers?
- Concurrent sessions that help you develop your career?
- Networking with hundreds of HR professionals from around the world?
- Awards presentations?
- Big-time party one evening?
- Conference name tags with ribbons?
- Pre- and post-conference in-depth learning sessions?
If it looks like a conference, feels like a conference, sounds like a conference — then it is a conference!
8. Increase the ROI of your software investments
At the end of the day, attending any conference on your company’s dime has to be about increasing the ROI of something. Attending a conference that has the dual outcomes of increasing your personal skill sets and increasing the value of your company’s software investments sounds like a win-win to me.
And with this in mind, it just might be approved by your boss a lot faster than some of the other conferences you’ve attended.