\We flew from Minneapolis to New Orleans with a three hour layover in Atlanta. I would have preferred to have a conversation/fan girl moment with Jimmy Carter, but for whatever reason, he’s never at my gate waiting for me in all of the times I’ve had a layover in Atlanta.
But almost just as awesome, the #SHRM17 Twitter feed started blowing up and it was as ah-maz-ing. I legit started geeking out. Some dude (actually Matt behind True Faith HR) tweeted about having Chick-Fil-A at the Atlanta airport and HOLY CRAP, I was right by there. Next thing I know, I’m in line at the Southwest gate saying hello to Matt, which turned into saying hello to a handful of other SHRM-goers.
Someone sat next to me on the plane and asked how I knew Matt and I paused momentarily before I just decided to own my answer: TWITTER. I’ve met people from the internet before (e.g. my wife, my best friend, way too many people that have recognized me as “Wendy from the internet”), but it was a whole different opening of a door that I didn’t know was even there.
We landed, got our luggage and checked into our conference at the airport (!!!) before heading to our adorable hotel (the Dauphine Orleans) just a block off Bourbon Street. Unpacked, settled in and headed off to find dinner. Both Killer PoBoys locations were less than two blocks from our hotel, so that seemed like fate. And, yes, they were killer.
We went back to our hotel rooms with tentative plans to stay in for the night and catch up on a few work things. I lasted until about 7 before I went into full on #SHRM17 Stalker Mode. There were people out and about all over the place, so I hit the French Quarter on my own determined to find another HR/SHRM person somewhere.
I saw Kate post about being at a bar only a few blocks from my hotel room, so that’s where I headed. And I walked past the bar because, NOPE – couldn’t muster up the intestinal fortitude to go in. I KNOW, RIGHT? I sat down on a bench and texted my co-worker who was back in her room finishing up some homework to see if she wanted to join. She was game, so we were off. I totally needed a wingman to meet HR people. Best thing I convinced myself to do the entire conference.
Pat O’Brien’s kept the hurricanes flowing and so did the HR twitter people. A couple of folks I’d followed on Twitter for a long time ended up joining us, along with their spouses. And then randomly enough, the lady I sat next to on the plane showed up because, wouldn’t you know it, she’s there for the SHRM conference, too. I mean, there were over 15,000 of us. I guess I shouldn’t have been that surprised. She recognized me. I did not recognize her and I still can’t remember her name, but her husband and I definitely talked about whatever PGA golf tournament had just happened.
Day 1 in New Orleans and I was pretty jazzed (oh man, no terrible New Orleans pun intended, I swear) to have put names to faces, actually talked to other conference attendees and realized not all HR folks are like the “standard” HR folks. The conference hadn’t even started and I was already feeling the energy.