Friday, November 20, 2009

#socialrecruiting - a glimpse of conferences to come

Back from NYC, where we attended the ERE Social Recruiting Summit. I was there as a vendor (Tweetajob sponsored lunch), a speaker (I had 10 minutes to Keep It Real, and moderated an unconference session) and as an attendee. I am still buzzing from the energy that emanated from the participants. Sure, the topic was social media, so a certain amount of excitement was a given. The conference framework, however, was the catalyst for a different level of engagement.

Leanne Chase, who runs the Career Life Connection Community, blogged about a contrasting experience at the Kennedy/Onrec conference in Chicago, just two weeks earlier. I was also at the Kennedy conference, and there was a remarkable difference in the energy, the content and the engagement. My observations of how social media fueled deeper discussions and connections in New York:
  • I made many new friends. There was less awkwardness and more hugs because I'd met many of the participants on Twitter. Some were Facebook friends. Our existing online relationship made it easier to connect in person.
  • I was lucky enough to sit near an outlet, so I had juice all day. I fired up Tweetgrid to follow the Twitter discussions, as well as stay connected to other important topics (such as tracking the buzz about my startup). The tweets provided foundation for richer discussion, more interesting questions, a platform for challenging ideas, and links to presos and related material.
  • Tweetups, impromptu and planned dinners and coffees, and general merriment was made possible through the use of Twitter, Facebook, text messaging and other social media outlets. Everyone was in the know. This was the case at both conferences. (At the Summit, there was even an underground bake-off.)
  • ERE livestreamed much of the Summit, making it possible for viewers to observe and participate from afar. Did this cannibalize conference attendance? No way! ERE shared excellent content with more than 300 viewers, many of whom expressed desire to attend the next summit. Web 2.0 openess at its best.
  • In New York, there was less separation between vendors and attendees. Vendors participated fully in the discussions. Old schoolers like me mixed freely with the up-and-comers like Jessica Lee and Afton Funk (who can definitely hold their own and teach us a few things!). Most of the speakers stayed for the entire program to participate in the discussion.
  • The informal structure made room for experimentation and spontaneity. John Sumser used Prezi to wow the crowd. The unconference sessions generated lively discussions. If I missed something, I just checked the Twitter stream.
  • The conversation continues, long after the conference. The Twitter hashtag #socialrecruiting is a source of fresh material - blog posts, observations, connections and shout-outs, as well as a way to remember the highlights of the actual events.
I'm not saying that the Kennedy Conference didn't offer some of these elements. It was a well-run event, and I'll participate next year, for sure. I believe, however, that conferences will get much better as a result of rethinking the format, the participation, and the communication channels. Just like everything, social media will change the way we do it.

Lastly, I met a jobseeker at the Monster Social Tweetup. She was fabulous. She works in HR/benefits now, but is really interested in recruiting. She's in NYC. Get at me if you'd like to see her resume.


  1. Can I just tell you how much I love this post...and not because you mentioned me! But because now I don't have to write it. Seriously this was the post in my head all week.

    There were lots of great takeaways but the vibe was my takeaway. It was electric. It was hard to walk 5 steps without having a really great, substantive conversation.

    Thank you for this...I concur fully!

  2. It sounds really cool, hope to attend the next one. Its nice seeing the info getting passed. Hope to see you at the Twitter Conference next year.

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