Can't afford to attend a conference? I go free, here's how.

Recruiting Blogs and Twitter allows for free conference access!

I have so many blessings to count. Recruiting Blogs, Twitter, and the friends I’ve made as a direct result is one of these vital connections. My connections on twitter and other sites have made it possible to attend conferences for free. As a professional in transition, this is an invaluable asset for which I am extremely grateful.

Thank you recruiting blogs for showing a live stream of Social Recruiting. It was a great conference, and thanks to you I felt as if I was there.
This week, I also plan to attend and #trulondon in the UK via live stream/twitter and any other internet stream that will take me there.

There’s a new movement: the “unconference.” Small loosely organized upstart organizations are forming both on and off of twitter. I discovered these movements by following the #hashtags attached to tweets. For instance, that’s how I found #hrevolution and #Onrec09 (the recruiting conference in NYC) that took place recently. I also was able to learn from @chrisbrogan when he was at the #summitup in Dayton OH (again I attended in my living room.) Twitter has also introduced me to incredible blog radio shows like #hrhappyhour with @steveboese and @hrminion.

During last week’s #hrhappyhour many interesting topics were raised by the team of bloggers from Fistful of Talent.
During one of the side bar discussions on #hrhappyhour I tweeted:

Small upstart movements like #hrevolution and #hrhappyhour are slowly replacing orgs like SHRM
9:09 PM Nov 12th from web

This started a long string of discussion. I was asked, are these small upstarts complementing or replacing these large organizations. The answer is both. They are complementing, and also filling an important gap in our professional culture. I realized something important. Movements like #HRevolution, Social Recruiting, #hrhappyhour are filling a gap that is currently not being addressed by large organizations such as, SHRM, ASTD, and The ODNetwork. Certainly, these large organizations play an important role in our professional lives. During the live stream of #hrhappyhour, @cincyrecruiter asked, “I wonder how many of these people are actually SHRM members.” Well, truthfully, I am not. I can’t afford the national membership fees. The monthly meetings are expensive to attend. Personally, I don’t get a good return on my investment from attending. While these small groups will never replace the value of our large professional associations, they fill an important gap by enabling people to attend free conferences via podcasts, twitter stream and google wave. The fact that I was able to attend #onrec09 from the comfort of my living room exemplifies the worth of twitter. Many of the presenters make their white papers, and presentation slides available online. If you closely follow the hashtag stream you can get the gist of the entire keynote address.
Fortunately, locally here in Cincinnati, Steve Browne started a group called #HRNET. Their meetings are free. The networking is great, and I always take away great learning from these meetings. Belonging to these huge organizations are cost prohibitive for so many of us during this recession. These wonderful small, targeted groups focus far better on my professional development needs. This is why I make this case! These small groups are free, or low cost, they are readily available and accessible. Their members are generous with their time, and most of them enjoy helping people a long the way.

#HRevolution the “unconference” was only $50.00. I was able to split the cost of the hotel room with @tlcolson and @blogging4jobs which made attending extremely affordable. This is so important not just for me, but for countless others who find themselves in career transition during these uncertain financial times. I still need to learn and to be able to network. Not only are small conferences like HRevolution a great learning experience, it allowed me the opportunity to forge bonds with other like minded professionals. In addition, I had access to the thought leaders in my field. Access to learning and networking makes all the difference in the world to me, and others like me. When I had my own business, I used to complain that either I had the money and didn’t have the time, or I had the time, but didn’t have the money. Well, the internethas made possible these extraordinary learning and networking experiences. Now with twitter, live internet streams, and google wave you can feel like you are at the conference without actually being there. That is a stroke of genious.

I wanted to write this blog post to express my heartfelt appreciation to those generous people on twitter/facebook/linkedin who make these learning experiences available to people low cost or free. This week, I will follow up by interview the conference planners, and a few of the presenters as promised. Please stay tuned.

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