Cliques, Why I Exist, and How to Join In

The other day there was a popular post on the HR Minion blog about cliques. I had a good time reading it, but the comments were great, too! Go here to read the post and then come back when you’re done. I’ll wait.

Okay, then we roll some comments from people who I trust and respect.

I think another point that you didn\’t really hit on is the transparency of social media. What used to be fairly private relationships built over e-mail, phone and in person conversations have now gone public. If I don\’t follow back someone I don\’t know very well on Twitter, it is a cliquish thing to do (something I\’ve been called out for).

That\’s not clique, that\’s human. We only have a capacity for so many connections. Those ebb and flow as time goes on (I don\’t believe in connection collections). When this happened in a more private setting, nobody thought it was cliquish because it wasn\’t visible. Now it is.

I try to be open with people about it without sounding like a dick and without some sort of “I\’m more important than you” attitude. It isn\’t about what they\’re doing, it is simply a capacity issue. Something I\’ve learned the hard way.

Lance Haun

I can certainly understand the number of connections issue. On to another good comment…

As someone who sits on the edge of the HR world I am neutral on the clique being a good thing. No doubt there is a wealth of information that is freely shared. And yes it is a friendly group.

But I do think that frequently it feels as if the only HR “cool kids” are the ones on Twitter or have a Facebook Page.

Certainly not the case.

Are there really only 10-15 (give or take) HR bloggers worth reading? One might think so by looking at the rolls on most sites.

Being the most vocal, the loudest or attending all the conferences and events does not make one worth listening to.

Paul DeBettignies

I don’t have a blogroll (a list of links pointing to other sites I recommend). I had one when I started blogging, but I quickly got tired of feeling like I was leaving people out, so I dumped it and haven’t regretted it a bit. I’m much more open to linking to people in context where it matters most (like the comments above).

Is it a clique, though?

I feel like an outsider myself at times. My blog traffic isn’t earth-shattering, and there are plenty of people with more brains, experience, and writing ability than me. I try to be inclusive of those around me, but I’m especially helpful to the people just getting into the space. They need extra support or they might drop off completely.

I think there are phases to this thing. Once you move past beginner, you are open to recruiting and mentoring others. If you advance to content creation, you have to cut back on the recruiting/mentoring, because you have something else swallowing a big piece of your time. That might be why another commenter said this (emphasis mine)…

This post is fascinating and challenging at the same time.

I have been active in the “HR Community” long before social media and have loved every frustrating minute of it !!

Social Media has actually allowed me to connect with others who are passionate about our field. When you\’re passionate (and not apologetic) about HR, people tend to shun you.

Most HR folks love living in their self-imposed silo of misery and it\’s well past time to destroy those silos.

I love being connected, active and “branded” in social media because I get to meet folks. Other great humans with diverse thought and approaches that I never would have known if it weren\’t for Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, etc.

I don\’t have a blog. May never have one. Like guest posting and infiltrating so much more.

Shauna – way to shake the tree a bit !!

If this is a clique – I\’m in. I think it\’s just great people that want to know each other and get others connected.

Steve Browne

My goal with this gig

I want to meet new people in the online HR space. I want to reach out to the new and aspiring bloggers out there. If you have one post or a full archive, you still are worth reaching out to in my opinion. If you’re just exploring Twitter or LinkedIn, I’m open to helping you as well. I just want to freaking help, darn it! :-)

Am I a part of a community? Yes. Am a a part of multiple communities? Yes. It’s up to the new people to reach out and attempt to integrate themelves, because there’s no way for me (or anyone else) to find all the people who aren’t plugged in yet. I’m a rabid advocate for joining online communities, and I certainly wouldn’t be if I thought the groups were closed or cliquish.

In fact, just to show my openness to you newbies who want to get involved, I will share my email address and offer a guaranteed personal response if you email me. Also, if you’re interested in getting involved but don’t know how, I would love to assist!

How to get started

How did I get connected when I started this thing? I stared reaching out and sharing ideas with those people I admired. Eventually they started treating me like an equal. I love using the metaphor of an ability scale. For instance, I see people like Kris Dunn as a 9 or 10 on the scale. I see myself somewhere near the middle, and I see the newbies like my friend John Jorgenson nearer to the lower end of the scale (he’s going to love me for that one! :-) ).

If you’re just getting started on the front end, you just need to keep doing like John and Kris-help others, reach out to meet new people, and try to add some value to this online community. It works.

Finally, a quick congrats to Shauna for getting the Monster 5 for Friday award for this post!

My comments section isn’t as cool as the ever-lovin’ HR Minion’s, but I can dream, huh? :-)

11 thoughts on “Cliques, Why I Exist, and How to Join In

  1. HR Minion

    Great response Ben! People like you are why I love our little online community! And don’t sell yourself short, you are a bigger influence on this community than you give yourself credit for!

  2. Alison Green / Ask a Manager

    This is a great post, and a fascinating topic.

    When I started blogging three years ago, I was a little nervous about entering the space (although it was a lot smaller then). Very quickly after I started, Suzanne Lucas (Evil HR Lady) sent me an incredibly nice note of encouragement, and it had a major impact on how I felt about the whole thing.

    Since then, I’ve tried to do that for new bloggers too when I see the opportunity, because I remember what a difference it made to me!

  3. Lance Haun

    Thanks for the link and the post.

    One thing I forgot to mention in my 1,000 word response was this idea of competition. People don’t like new entrants because of competition. They worry their traffic is going to take (or the person is going to take THEIR increase in traffic).

    While at some point there was a vacuum in the online HR space, I think that time has long since passed. How you keep readers is different than how you initially attract. I think long term readers are a longer term competition since you have to have a message that is constantly relevant to them.

    Short term readers come and go. And I think some in the clique worry about these people more than the long term ones. So I think there is some posturing or exclusiveness based on this.

    We need to stop thinking about this as a competition for short term readers. I’ve forced myself to stop worry about day-to-day hits and focus on subscribers. If someone is committing to read you every time you update, that’s a better thing than a 5,000 hit day.

    Great post Ben.

  4. John Jorgensen

    Lower end of the scale? Hell, I can’t argue with that. No where near ready to take the training wheels off, but with your help and the help of others (hello Trish, Mike, Jessica, Laurie, Jennifer…and a cast of hundreds) I hope I can get somewhere near the middle of the scale where you claim to be (BTW, you are nearer the top than you think).

    Great follow up to Shauna’s post.

  5. working girl

    Ben your comments link is hard to find for a stupid creature of habit that always looks at the bottom of the post. Thanks for sharing this, it was a great post and a great discussion topic.

  6. working girl

    PS I think it was Steve Boese who commented that the small online HR community in particular should be open to new members, new ideas, new discussions. Although I think it is based on the group I follow it’s a great reminder.

  7. Stephanie M Andrews

    I just can’t get over Paul DeBettignies’ comment about ‘HR cool kids’.

    I work in hr, and I get razzed all the time about being a dork, or the ‘chirpy hr lady’, or compared to Toby from The Office.

    I wouldn’t think that a twitter account or blog makes you cool – it makes you a human in the year 2010.

    But hey, my mom thinks I’m cool! ;)

    1. Ben Post author

      And isn’t your mom’s opinion what really matters anyway? :-) Thanks for dropping in, Stephanie!

  8. Trish McFarlane

    You’re in a cool kid clique? Man, I hope you let me in. Seriously, I am really tired of all this clique talk. I love your post and Shauna’s but part of me doesn’t understand all the time and energy that everyone is spending on trying to figure it all out. Since joining twitter there has not been one person I’ve run into that hasn’t let me “in” (whatever that means). If I ask someone to guest post or help me with a post, they have. Others have asked me for help on learning how to use twitter, write a blog, connect and network, and about my favorite recipes. You see, I think it’s simple. Be nice to people and they will want a relationship with you. Give and give and give as much as you can. You get back so much more in those relationships. That’s all. It’s not a clique. It’s just being a good person. For those that don’t do that, just stop following them. Once you cut those people out of your life, the drama is gone.


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