Posts Tagged ‘conferences’
Like many workplaces during the December holidays, SHRMChat was pretty quiet during December. We had the usual gang of suspects, but no newbies or novices. Hopefully we can attract more people from outside of the HR social media bubble in 2013. Tell your friends and acquaintances to join us!
That doesn’t mean that our questions weren’t discussed, because our regulars are never at a loss for words. Here are the questions posed, with a quick summary of the discussion that followed.
- Does your chapter or council do anything to recognize December holidays for their members? SHOULD THEY?
There were as many different responses to this question as there were people chatting. Some chapters take the month off, some have special holiday themed events, and some chapters focused on charity events. It was the general opinion of the chatters, though, that December should be a time for board, holiday, or recognition programs and charity-based works. Take the focus off chapter or council events during the holidays.
- People in the HR discussion space often call for HR to get out of the party-planning and gift-giving business. Do you agree? If parties and gifts are not the responsibility of HR, who should be taking care of them?
Participants in the December SHRMChat were almost unanimous in their belief that holiday parties should not be an HR-only function. But they were split almost down the middle into two groups: (1)HR should jettison all parties, or (2) All work groups or departments should contribute in some way to holiday functions. What do you think HR should do – let me know in the comments for a future discussion.
- Other than cash or praise, what is the best or worst year-end gift you have ever received from an employer?
The majority of our December attendees didn’t receive any kind of year-end gift, so the best and worst answers were a little sparse. Here were a few of my favorites: Best (1) Getting off work early, and (2) Layoff notice from a hated job. Worst (1) Forced to work through, and (2) a cheap plaque.
- Do you have a resolution for your chapter/council for 2013? What is the most important thing your chapter/council should do in 2013?
Mostly our December chatters wanted more and better chapters – more members, a bigger and better conference, greater support to students, and a better system to find/rate speakers. Don’t forget to support the Wisconsin effort to rate speakers here!
January Preview – Thinking Outside of the Lines
Does your chapter or council focus your marketing and program attendance on members or potential members inside of your specific geographical area? Do you, as a SHRM member, confine your program attendance to your own state or local? The January SHRMChat will discuss the potential benefits of attending and promoting outside of your geographical box or lines. Here are a few questions; feel free to add your own during the chat!
- Q1. Does your state or local promote your conference or program to those who live outside of your boundaries? Why or why not?
- Q2. Do you have specific strategies to suggest for promoting your conference to other states without creating internal jealousies or competition concerns?
- Q3. Have you ever attended a conference outside of your state (not including SHRM national conferences)? Why?
- Q4. What are the benefits or disadvantages of attending other conferences?
- Q5. Based on tonight’s discussion, will you do ONE thing you will do to promote your program outside of the state or to change your attendance plans to include another state? Name it.
#SHRMChat is held on Twitter the 2nd Tuesday of every month at 8 pm EST/7pm CST. Join our next chat on January 8th!
Once again we had an interesting and lively chat, this time on the subject of conferences. You can see the preview post here, but I am repeating all of the questions we asked because I am lazy and it makes it easier for me to write.
Q1. Excluding content, what are the 3 most important ingredients for a successful conference?
There were a lot of thoughtful responses to this question. Facilities seemed to be the most frequent answer, if you consider that facilities can include a large number of considerations such as wireless, the physical ability to network, and food provision. Food, in fact, was the subject of many serious tweets about its importance. Also included in the discussion of facilities was a suggestion to include electronic enhancements like charging stations or electronic kiosks. The ability for attendees to get online and stay online was clearly thought to be a priority by the chatters.
Q2. Can there be a successful HR conference without social media? Why or why not?
The consensus answer to this question was “no,” although there was a short discussion of whether that was what the chatters wanted, or what they thought attendees wanted. This question also prompted many tweeters to recognize HR Florida and the recent annual SHRM as models of using social media to engage the attendees as well as promote the events. One of the advantage social media brings, it was noted, is an opportunity to invest in future conferences through pushing and involving the speakers. In fact, there was an entire spin-off discussion about speakers and vendors during this time, with tweeters discussing the need to get speakers and vendors more involved in the overall fabric of the conference.
My favorite tweet regarding this question came from Curtis Midkiff, Social Media guru for SHRM. He stated that when social media is used effectively at a conference, it can thread together all of the components, such as marketing, speakers, attendees, etc., into a cohesive whole.
Q3. Name the top 3 social media practices a conference should use.
Not surprisingly, Twitter showed up on the list of almost everyone who responded to this question. After that, chatters differed in their choices, naming video/You Tube, LinkedIn, blogs, and mobile apps. A social media educational center, such as The Hive at the annual SHRM conference, was also listed as a best practice in several tweets.
Q4. Are HRCI credits a must for a successful conference? If not, how do you attract attendees?
This question did not get much of a response, because everyone just said “yes”, credits are an absolute when it comes to running a SHRM-affiliated conference. There was a brief discussion about HRCI and SHRM stretching their credit requirements in a way that would allow fresher, newer content and programming. (Note: I am trying very hard to find someone from HRCI willing to guest on SHRMChat for a discussion about HRCI credits. Stay tuned.)
Q5. What are the 2 or 3 most important attributes of a successful conference director?
This question prompted a very passionate and lively discussion, as you might expect from HR pros. Some specific attributes that were mentioned:
- Leadership skills
- Articulated vision
What most chatters agreed on, though, was that the best conference director had the same attributes as any good manager – the ability to build an awesome team and get out of their way.
Join us for our next SHRMChat on August 14 at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Details soon!
(AUTHOR NOTE 07/27/12 – If you are involved in conference planning of any kind, you must check out this blog from Dice.com, outlining what they did at #SHRM12 and how it paid dividends to them as a sponsor. It was mentioned briefly in the discussion of Q2 above.)
It’s time for another SHRMChat!
For newbies, SHRMChat is a monthly Twitter chat where we discuss issues affecting state and local affiliates of SHRM. There are different issues every month, and I preview and recap every month on my blog.
This month, SHRMChat will be discussing conferences. Many of us attended the recent Annual SHRM Conference & Exposition (SHRM12), where more than 13,000 people gathered to drink in all things HR. I belong to two different local SHRM affiliates, and both have hosted, or are preparing to host, one day conferences. And most state affiliates offer a conference.
So let’s chat about what needs to be done to make an HR conference a success. To help us with this discussion, we will be joined by 3 special guests:
Mike VanDervort – @MikeVanDervort – Mike is the social program strategist for HR FLorida, one of the largest state councils and conferences in the country. He also recently attended SHRM12 as an official blogger, and decided that SHRM has a formula for success through social media. Read about it here.
Here are the specific questions we will ask during the chat. The first question will be asked at 8:10 and each successive question will post on the 10′s.
- Q1. Excluding content, what are the 3 most important ingredients for a successful conference?
- Q2. Can there be a successful HR conference without social media? Why or why not?
- Q3. Name the top 3 social media practices a conference should use.
- Q4. Are HRCI credits a must for a successful conference? If not, how do you attract attendees?
- Q5. What are the 2 or 3 most important attributes of a successful conference director?
I was truly amazed at the size of the bags being carried off the vendor expo floor at SHRM 12. I was even more amazed at how much stuff attendees had managed to cram into those bags. I am not exaggerating when I say that some of the bags I saw would not come close to fitting into the suitcase I brought, even without anything else in the suitcase. What do attendees really do with all of that stuff?
But I was not so smug as to come home from SHRM empty-handed. Most of what I brought home wasn’t truly swag, though, because the items I stuffed into my already-full suitcase were not Something We All Get. With a couple of exceptions, they were gifts. Many were gifts I got because I was part of a blogger team, and some gifts came from connections I made.
Here’s what was important enough to me to make suitcase space for:
1. T-shirts – One is pictured above and was received from Dice.com for being an official SHRM blogger. There is a Twitter bird logo on the back comprised of all of the bloggers Twitter names, which makes it a keeper. The rubber “Connect Rockstar” bracelet came from Dice.com as well. I also got a t-shirt from The Starr Conspiracy, but I wore it as a bathing suit cover-up in Atlanta and it was already in the dirty clothes when I took the picture.
2. Meet-Meme Cards – SHRM was nice enough to provide these for the blog team and I had some left over. I am a huge fan of Meet-Meme cards and I use them as my personal business card, so the extras from SHRM were a nice bonus.
3. Rubber Stamp – Also a gift from The Starr Conspiracy to their bloggers. I can’t tell you what it says because it is a super-secret conspiracy, and it is personal and mysterious. I am going to use it on my Freak Flag, though (see #6).
4. Tiny Tote Bag – This actually is swag. I got it from Baudville because I needed a small tote that fit inside the large tote I had been carrying around. I put it to use immediately, taking just my wallet and phone on multiple runs to Starbucks for tea. I also took – and ate – a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting from their booth, which is really my idea of great swag.
5. Social NOTworking – This book was given to me by author Jody Katz Pritikin, who I interviewed for a future blog about employment lawyers at SHRM 12. I missed her session due to a conflict so she gave me her book to read. It has lots of cool pictures, and she likes social media, so I will definitely read it.
6. CD – This CD of country music was given to me by another attendee, Carol Ann Timmel. She was not a speaker, sponsor, or vendor. We got into a conversation at the Skillsoft party, and she brought the CD by the blogger lounge the next day.
7. Freak Flag – Most of this flag is white, with just the Talent Anarchy logo in the corner. I missed the Talent Anarchy presentation due to a conflict, but I am thankful that I have seen them present before because they are amazing. They want people to decorate the flag in their own way and then post pictures. I will definitely do that but I need to go to the store for some colored Sharpies to accent my rubber stamp.
The moral of this story is that attendees should choose wisely when deciding what is really important for them to take and keep. Think about how many natural resources and fossil fuels were used making and transporting things that are probably going to end up in your kitchen junk drawer and just. say. no.
What did you take home from your last conference?
I didn’t have the opportunity to attend professional conferences for a long time, because small business often can’t afford the fees or loss of services from the employee. So I have a kind of bee in my bonnet when I see people waste what I think is a privelege because of their own attitudes. Here are 3 that I often see that should disappear:
1. “I’m only here for credits.” Many professions have some kind of continuing education requirement, including HR and the law, the two I am directly involved in. So I absolutely understand the need to keep those credits rolling in. But if getting credits is the only reason for attending a conference or choosing a session, you might as well stay home and get your credits from the web, where you can sleep or do other things without anyone knowing. Instead, choose sessions or conferences that engage you or spark your imagination. Or spend time at your next conference networking. You won’t get credit for networking, but you will get a valuable career experience that is just as important. But if the only reason you walked into the door was for the credit, you have already closed your mind and limited your ability to learn.
2. “This doesn’t apply to my organization.” If you listen to a speaker discuss a topic and then spend time deciding how it can’t or won’t work in your organization, you have created a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have taken a call to action and turned it into inaction, simply by believing it’s not actionable. The name of the children’s story is not ”The Little Engine That Couldn’t”. You will have a much better conference experience if you think of how it can work, instead of how it can’t.
3. “I don’t need to know anything about this topic.” You may think that you don’t need to know anything about marketing if you are an HR pro, or tech issues if you are a lawyer. But so what? It’s the ability to open our minds to new ideas and experiences that helps us innovate and creatively solve problems that we do encounter. And you never know when something that is said in one of those supposedly non-essential conferences will spark the idea that pushes your career to the next level.
Are there any more attitudes that hold you back from using conferences to maximize your development? Let me know in the comments.
(Friends – some of you know that I am starting a new life chapter. I am in the process of moving to Florida, where I hope to meet and work with a whole new group of HR and social media people. But packing and moving is time consuming, so I am going to apologize for not posting my blog for the next month or so. Bear with me – I’ll be back!)
Some of you may remember that I poked fun at SHRM a while back for booking Michael J. Fox as a keynote speaker. He’s a purely inspirational speaker, and my argument at the time was that there were more pressing issues concerning the field of human resources to be discussed, and that he wasn’t the person we needed to discuss them.
This week, while looking into Transform, the new conference hosted by TLNT, I sadly discovered another reason to argue against the use of high-end motivational or inspirational speakers: they drive the cost of conference attendance too high for the average HR practitioner to attend.
Now, to be fair to TLNT, I can’t say for sure that their speakers are purely inspirational in content, and maybe they all will have some real world, practical solutions that a practitioner can take back to work and immediately implement.
Okay, the moon is made of cheese.
I know this for sure, though – their 2 day conference cost is a whopping $1200-1600. That’s as high as SHRM’s national conference, with far fewer sessions and speaker choices. They don’t even have Hall & Oates or Keith Urban.
I don’t need to pay a huge sum of money to be inspired. Inspiration is all around me, cost-free. Here are some examples of every day people who have inspired me recently:
- Jennifer DuRocher – a flyball and Facebook friend who recently lost over 140 pounds. Her incredible story was recently featured on a local news station.
- Bryan Wempen – as the host of Drive Thru HR he is familiar name to many of you. Bryan (a grandfather!) decided to get fit and start running, so he could participate in a memorial race for a friend. He recently completed his first 1/2 marathon.
- Branden Ginsberg – yes, he’s related (stepson), but after a long battle with drug addiction and a prison term, he is drug-free, healthy, and has kept his job for over 2 years.
All of these people motivate and inspire me to do better things. I don’t have to pay a cent or pack a suitcase.
What about you? Is there someone in your life that you find inspirational? Leave a comment and share the story.
When I started to receive emails and phone calls from vendors asking me to stop by their booth and chat with their CEO/CFO/some kind of O, I thought it was how vendors reached out to attendees prior to the massive annual Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) conference. It took Matt Stollak and his True Faith HR blog to explain to me that I was receiving those strange pitches because I was going to be a ribbon-wearing member of the social media press.
I felt kind of special for a few minutes. Then I received this phone call.
[Phone rings. Answered by daughter because I am feeding dogs.] Daughter yells at top of lungs: “MOM! Somebody about HR!” [Brings me phone]
Me: This is Joan.
Caller: This is (blank) from (blankety-blank). I’d like to see if you would list our client on your blog.
Me: What do you mean, “list”? Like a blog roll for vendors?
Me: Well, I don’t have a vendor roll on my blog. I don’t have a blog roll at all.
Me: Um, who’s your client, anyway?
Me: Well, they do sell to HR – I’ve even used their product. But I don’t know any HR bloggers that have a vendor roll, or a vendor blog roll. I’m kind of busy right now, so email me at ginsberg dot joan at gmail dot com, tell me what it is you are looking for, and I will try to help you out later.
Caller: Thank you. (hangs up.)
A few minutes later I received this email:
Hi Its, (blank) from (blankety-blank), if you could refer different media publications or bloggers that would be interested in included our client that would be great. Thanks.
Really. This exact email (I deleted the names).
To this day I am really not sure what this marketing company wanted me or any other blogger to do for their client. I emailed back and asked for clarification but never received a response.
Contrast that bizarre tale with an email I received from a different vendor a few days later, also included here without any change at all:
Congratulations on getting a press pass to the SHRM annual conference! I’m excited to see your SHRM posts – whether they will be rants or raves – and how you enjoy the conference. I’ll definitely be checking back tomorrow to see how your SHRM series starts. As the only Michigan blogger on the press list, I wanted to reach out to you and say hello! Baudville is located in Grand Rapids, so I’ll be making the long trip out to Vegas this weekend, too.
I’d love to connect with you at the conference, but as a VIB (Very Important Blogger), I know you have lots of people clamoring for your attention at SHRM next week. Vendors, authors, and speakers who all want you to know about them.
At Baudville, we’re different. We want to know what you think about employee recognition.
Cori Curtis, Marketing Specialist at Baudville and the author of this email, had obviously read my blog and went out of her way to make a very personal connection. I emailed her back that I would love to drop by her booth and visit. I wish I had done so (if you are reading for the first time, click here to see why I didn’t), because the videos were marvelous.
I think it is pretty obvious which vendor gets a big pat on the back in my book, and, most importantly, will be remembered as a great company when a time comes in the future to make a recommendation.
**I don’t wish to embarrass this company or their marketers by identifying them, but the client was a national insurance company who uses a duck in their promotions.
I will step up my efforts with SHRM, local and national, to improve the HR community and help increase collaboration among members.
Sounds a little like a scout pledge, doesn’t it?
This was one of the goals I articulated last year for the Creative Chaos Consultant‘s “Put Up Or Shut Up” challenge (more on that challenge coming soon). So, during fall conference season, it was reasonably imperative for me to attend my state SHRM conference. Wasn’t it?
In making my fall conference plans, I discovered that Ohio‘s state SHRM was being held in Sandusky, Ohio, which is actually a tiny bit closer to my home than Grand Rapids, Michigan, site of the Michigan SHRM conference. I could easily and cheaply travel by car to attend either – but attending both was not in my budget or interest. Looking at the sessions offered became the deal maker. Here were two of my actual choices, one from Michigan and one from Ohio:
Employer CONTROL versus USING social media? Should I learn how to help HR grow up and move forward, or listen to tired practitioners cling to archaic and outdated concepts? Michigan’s choices all seemed to encompass the latter. I chose Ohio, and I was treated to informative, innovative, and thoughtful sessions. As Steve Browne, Program Director for the 2010 Ohio Conference said at the beginning of one session, “if you are here just to get re-certification credits, let me ask you one question: WHY?”
I want so much to support my local and state organization, but not at the expense of my personal development. Next year, I’ll be going back to Ohio.
If you had a choice, which SHRM state or local would you choose to invest in?
In all of my lengthy professional life, I had never been to a conference. I had been to plenty of trade shows and training seminars, but a conference – where people actually talked to each other and exchanged ideas – was outside of my experience. Now that I am unemployed, why am I preparing to sign up for two very expensive HR conferences, spending a fortune in travel, lodging, and meals on top of the registration costs, and considering several more?
Jim Mitchem, whose Twitter name is @smashadv, said it best: The best part of Twitter is the humility that comes with realizing that you’re *never* the smartest person in the room.
When I got really involved in Twitter late last summer, I learned that there was a whole group of highly intelligent HR and recruiting pros online that were willing to share their knowledge and insights. When some of those pros hosted an “unconference” called HRevolution, with the idea that the exchange and engagement from Twitter would come alive, I knew I had to go.
HRevolution was electrifying for me. It was a non-stop exchange of ideas about a profession amongst highly intelligent practitioners, and I was instantly addicted. Now I crave more, because
There are BRILLIANT people that speak at these events—and even MORE brilliant people that are present and networking. MANY of these people have not joined the dialog in our beloved Social Media—but that means NOTHING about the level of knowledge and expertise they have to offer.
That quote, from Monster.com‘s Eric Weingardner (@ewmonster on Twitter), says it all for me. I’m going to start out with the Employment Law & Legislative Update given by SHRM, then attend HRevolution in May. I’m taking advantage of early registration for SHRM 2010, their June annual conference. I’m sure there will be more along the way, and I am happy to take suggestions.
How about you? Want to plug your HR Conference or talk about your conference plans?