11 things HR can learn from those geeks across the conference hall!

SAN FRANCISCO - MARCH 10: Twitter co-founder ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Jon Ingham recently posted an article on the HR Zone in which he discussed the increasing use of social media tools among Hr Practitioners. He speculates that perhaps HR practitioners, at least in the U.S. are nearing a tipping point on their use of the social web as a business tool.
Web 2.0 and social networking tools are being increasingly well used by HR practitioners working in recruitment, and to a lesser extent, in learning and development. This trend is also being felt on the conference circuit, see for example the high level of tweeting (posts on Twitter) taking place at last week’s social media in recruitment conference. However, it still doesn’t yet feel like something that’s mainstream for many generalists.
The first sign that this may be about to change was recently provided at the SHRM annual conference in New Orleans, where a very high level of blogging and tweeting suggested that US-based HR practitioners at least have substantially increased their involvement in social media over the last year.
I wish this were true, but I think HR still has a long way to go.
Over the past two years,I have attended as many geek shows and "unconferences" as I have HR conferences. Given that a portion of my business is to live blog HR conferences, it is very important to understand how events outside of HR get discussed and reported on. It is especially important to observe it first hand. These "unconferences" - with their goofy name and informal agenda are run very professionally. Many times their delivery exceeds anything I saw at the SHRM conference in New Orleans.

I want to be very clear. This is in no way intended to be a knock on SHRM or the event in New Orleans. They did great things with social media there this year. As noted by Jon, a lot was going on. They took questions for the opening keynote speaker, Jack Welch from Twitter. China Gorman, SHRM COO was tweeting all over the conference. The blogging panel was awesome. Many of the individual speakers talked about how the social web is impacting our profession. There was a panel of many of my blogging peers, and it was live streamed. One of the first times SHRM has ever live broadcast anything from their national conference.
It was great to be there and to be a part of it.

But there is a lot that SHRM and any other HR group doing a conference, even if it is just a day long conference could learn from my friends at some of these geeks shows. These things would enhance the conference experience and provided added benefits for attendees and those unable to attend.

Use streaming video to share the conference experience.

At BlogOrlando 2008, all major sessions were shared via uStream. BlogOrlando3 was a day long event taking place in September 2008 that was thrown together in a few weeks that you could attend for free - the purest expression of an unconference. There were a number of sponsors, and a lot of volunteers who contributed based on their relationship with Josh Hallett, the organizer. It was still amazing and is a compelling case study.

Here is a video from the uStream archive that I think you will find interesting. The speaker is Jake McKee talking about "How Lego caught the Cluetrain". Note this added benefit from video. I am able to grab this from a conference archive, watch it now - asynchronously - AND share it with you, my gentle reader!. I wish I could do the same thing with Sharlyn Lauby and her top notch presentation on planning from New Orleans!

Use multimedia during your conference to share information

At IZEAfest 2008, speakers were introduced via a rotating PowerPoint slide deck in a way that includes their photo, their web address, and their twitter name! Makes it very easy to look them up on Google, follow them on Twitter and pick them out in a crowd. There were also screens showing what people were saying via the twitter stream coming in live from the conference and from the video followers out in cyberspace. These can be seen by everyone, including the audience and the speakers - making the virtual audience an active part of the live event!

I will be attending IZEAfest 2009 in October. It will be held at Seaworld in Orlando, Florida. You should seriously think about attending if you want to learn more about how these events can benefit you as an HR professional.

The first 30 seconds or so of this video depicts the setup I am referencing if you want to see what it looks like.

Communicating like this promotes outreach and inclusion

You build audience. You build brand. You spread your message. You reach people you wouldn't otherwise reach.

You are building community!

For HR people, this would mean that we could communicate across industries, geographic barriers, company lines, and occupational niches. For bloggers, you can add to your knowledge from people you might never otherwise encounter.

So planners of HR conferences can:
  • reach out to a bigger audience
  • making a lasting impression with them
  • leave a permanent knowledge base behind rather than a fleeting conference experience
  • increase the personalized feel of the conference presenters and participants
  • broaden the conference experience through additional participation
  • expose conference attendees to the value of social web based experienced
  • build lasting community connections
  • create asynchronous attendance opportunities
We saw some of this recently from the Social Recruiting Conference that was held at the Googleplex. I have high hopes for the developing HRevolution: the 2009 HR Blogger experience unconference currently being developed by Ben Eubanks and Trish Mcfarland. (not the HRevolution in Europe) Here is hoping we see more!
I'd love to accompany someone from SHRM National to one of these conferences.

Let me know how I can help!

Bonus: Learn from Social Web Subject Matter Experts for free!

Here are a couple of great opportunities. Two hours of free training from top blogger Merlin Mann who runs an entropic web empire speaking here about creating smart blogs for smart bloggers and another from very controversial vlogger Loren Feldman of 1938 Media speaking about video blogging..

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