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Our HR Community

April 6, 2011
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I’ve spent the last several days at the Louisiana SHRM State Conference hanging with HR peers from across Louisiana (and a few who drove over from Texas!).  As a member of the conference committee for several years (Treasurer , which means I’m the holder of the checkbook and balancer of the budget) , I’ve had the opportunity to work with a great group of volunteers who work VERY hard to put together a conference that will appeal to their peers and enhance the professional capabilities of all attendees.

One dynamic that I noticed this year was the enhanced mingling, networking and conversations that seemed to occur during break times and between sessions.  Not that there isn’t normally some degree of interaction and connecting, but my observation was that this year’s attendees were much more actively engaged in talking to others and expanding their networking than has been typical in the past.

I like to think that we emphasized the social aspects of HR a bit more during the ramp up to this year’s conference.  We dipped our toe into social media in 2010 with some conference sessions on SM (1 by attorneys – scaring people away – and 1 advocating usage for business), a keynote by Ryan Estis, some blogging by Laurie Ruettimann and a partnership with SmartBrief on Workforce which provided a few students with the opportunity to write guest blogs.  We had a conference Twitter hashtag and a few hardy souls (just a few) tweeted from the sessions/conference.

By 2011 however, a lot had changed; we used social media channels including Linked In, Twitter, and Lanyrd to promote the conference.  We were fortunate to host the team from Drive Thru HR who exposed a NEW audience of HR professionals to the interactive medium that is blog talk radio. We had a big screen TV running the conference tweetstream all day and used that opportunity to explain a bit about the reach of social media.  This time around, we had several  attendees (HR pros) who  posted content during the run of the conference – plus a few exhibitors.  And while we can’t claim a huge audience as compared to other larger HR or SHRM events, by looking at a few twitter traffic counters, we saw that our reach was hitting about 150,000 people.

So did the use of these tools and channels “change’ the way people interacted with each other?  Probably not – it’s entirely likely that I was projecting my desires onto the crowd.  But I really did notice less solo-action and more socialization.  Fewer people stepping outside the building and away from the conference to take time on phone calls during breaks.  I noticed more face to face conversation.

Perhaps by bringing about an awareness of some interactive media tools, we were able to minimize the isolation that some folks normally experience when they step foot onto a conference floor.   Maybe we brought about some understanding that the ultimate value of these channels is how they open the door to REAL offline personal interaction.

I liked the vibe I felt…and I hope that vibe is moving throughout my whole HR community.

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