To the Social Media Whiz Kids at #SHRM12

dinner with friends at SHRM12

Loved having a quiet dinner with friends to unwind at SHRM. From left: John Nykolaiszyn, Jason Lauritsen, and me

I started to put “bloggers” in the title, but there are so many people from the conference who started using Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for the first time, and I wanted to include those as well. These are my thoughts on where we’ve come, where we’re going, and what everyone needs to do now. Hope you’re inspired!

The SHRM 2012 annual conference is now in the books. As usual, this event consists of few days of frenzied running to sessions, meeting with old friends, making new ones, and generally having an amazing time.

Why I go to any conference

I attend these events on two levels: first and foremost, I’m attending as an HR practitioner. I’m looking for ways I can help our operations team and company be better through smarter people practices. In that role I’m attending sessions, taking notes, and trying to meet people who might have insights in our industry.

On another level, I’m attending as a blogger. I’m trying to gather content, I’m trying to make connections, and I’m trying to find out what my audience is looking for in the way of great content (hint: sessions that are filled/overflowing would be good topics to explore in blog posts).

My hope for the social media community

Whether you’re writing a blog, participating in the fantastic HR-related chats on Twitter, or building a Facebook community, I hope that you take the connections you’ve built to another level. I’m already talking with a few people from the conference about working on some partner projects (Heather at A Leading Solution, for instance).


Because I want to learn from them. Because I want to be energized by them. Because I want to help both of our audiences be exposed to another person who is on fire for this HR thing. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll make this profession better one person at a time.

We are just like you, only we talk louder

Those of us in the blogging community aren’t any smarter than your average HR professional. We don’t even talk more than the average HR pro. We just do it louder. We channel it through the social tools to help us reach a larger audience.

When people come up to me in awe because they recognize me from my photo or blog, I just smile. I’m just a guy who likes to write and share what he’s doing right (and wrong) so people can learn a little bit. I’m no different from you, and I hope you can tell that when you’re standing there waiting for some brilliant statement to come out of my mouth, and I have nothing to say. :-)

Small victories are still victories

If you looked at the Twitterstream flowing from #SHRM12, you might have seen quite a few tweets about HR professionals visiting SHRM’s Hive area for social media advice/help. SHRM (and Curtis Midkiff, especially) did a great job of pulling in those of us passionate about using social tools in HR and leveraged our strengths and knowledge to be ambassadors for those without social media experience.

We helped set up Twitter accounts, discussed LinkedIn for recruiting purposes, and talked about using HR blogs for professional development. Each person helped was a small victory. Did we reach all 13,000 attendees? No way. But if we reached even 500 people (which isn’t an outrageous number based on the traffic we had each day), then that’s a win in my book.

Keep up the momentum

I had several conversations during the event about how people “like us” have been using social media extensively for the past 3+ years. At times, it seems like the topic is old and stale, because surely “everyone” knows how to use it by now. But then I run into an HR professional at a local SHRM meeting who wants to know what Twitter is or if they should have a corporate LinkedIn page, and I realize yet again that the number of HR professionals using social tools is still relatively small compared to the size of the group overall.

Closing thoughts

On Monday I start back to work. I get back into my routine. And it would be incredibly easy to just keep going like I have been going for the past year. Or I can take the time and make the effort to keep up with the connections I made at SHRM. I can keep the promise I made to keep educating HR professionals and recruiters on the value of social tools. I can work to incorporate the things I learned at the event into what I do at work.

Only time will tell which direction I take, but what I do matters much less than what you do. Well, what’s it going to be? I’m waiting…

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