SHRM Chat – January 2012


The next monthly #SHRMchat – a Twitter chat to discuss using social media with state and local SHRM chapters – will be held on January 10th at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST. Here are the details:

During the November chat, I was impressed with a comment made by Steve Browne of Ohio, which I will paraphrase here:  Don’t use social media just as a bulletin board for chapter announcements. Use it to create and engage a community.

I’m still thinking about that message and wondering about the best ways to implement it. Consequently, the theme of the January chat will be PLATFORMS. Let’s discuss Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, and blogs and how to use those platforms to build a community – since we all probably know how to make chapter announcements. Here are some specific questions to drive the discussion:

#1.  We all know that the different platforms have their own advantages. Can you identify one specific goal of your social media efforts (example: increase chapter membership) with one platform that works best for that goal?

#2. Which platform has the best time/return ratio? For example, do you find Facebook fast and easy with a high rate of engagement, or is it too cumbersome for the benefits it reaps?

#3. Have you been able to get others in your chapter excited about social media use? Which platform works best for individual member engagement and why?

#4. If you have found a particular chapter to be good at a specific social media site/platform, please share the URL,  account name, link etc.


Don’t forget to identify the specific question- Q1 or A1, for example – in your tweet so we can all follow along.

In February, we will move into a general discussion of how to broaden this chat beyond social media and into a discussion of SHRM chapter issues in general. Stay tuned!


SHRM Chat December – The Recap


As I mentioned in my last blog, I wanted to step back a little for the December SHRM Twitter Chat (our second) and start over. So, as announced, we began with a discussion of format, and which Twitter chat format would best facilitate communication among the participants.

Some people didn’t have any opinion at all, but those that did felt that the best format was the predetermined theme or subject, with 2-4 related questions. This was the same format I tried in the first (November) chat, but I am willing to give it another try. Hopefully, as people get used to the chat and the format, it will be comfortable for everyone.

Because it was suggested that we have a SHRM staff member present to answer questions, the discussion moved into one of SHRM and their social media efforts and assistance in general. Thank goodness that Curtis Midkiff,  SHRM Director of Social Engagement, was present at the chat and helped facilitate this portion of the discussion. He has been an invaluable part of SHRM Chat and will obviously continue to be.

The major points from this part of the chat were

  1. We all (volunteer leaders and SHRM staff) need to collaborate on collecting best practices to share with SHRM and chapters/councils that are social media newbies.
  2. Many volunteer leaders are highly resistant to social media and we need to get them more involved in activities (such as SHRM Chat).
  3. Making social media use a SHAPE requirement instead of an option would help increase social media use.
  4. SHRM field leaders need to be more proficient in social media if they are going to encourage and help their regions.
  5. SHRM needs to teach State councils the technical aspects of conference sharing such as live stream, and they need to be taught and understand why those sharing strategies would be a source of revenue and engagement.
Curtis did state that there was a SHRM social media guide in the works for 2012, which would be a mix of “how-to” and strategy for chapters looking to adopt social media.

One of the best comments on the whole subject of SHRM and social media came at the end of the discussion from John Jorgenson of ILSHRM: “We Know Next” needs to be more than a slogan.” Social media is clearly part of “the Next”, but SHRM seems to be behind when it comes to the knowing. It was agreed by all that Curtis is doing a great job, but he needs help. Let’s give it to him.

Please join us on January 10, 2012 at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central (same time the second Tuesday of every month) for our next SHRM Chat (Twitter hashtag #SHRMChat).

Do HR Pros Need Initials After Their Name?

What’s wrong with this picture?

Well, maybe nothing, if your point of view is different than mine. In my point of view, though, these people need more initials or letters after their names.

This is the current Executive Board of the Society of Human Resources Professionals (SHRM).  Left to right, they are

  • Hank Jackson, CPA
  • Janet Parker, SPHR
  • G. Ravindran
  • Henry Hart, JD
  • J. Robert Carr
There’s a few letters after some names, but only Janet Parker possesses an HR related certification. Does that seem somehow wrong to you?

It does to me.

Now I will be the first to admit that having PHR, SPHR, GPHR, CEBS, or a similar HR related certification does not guarantee that you have the skills to run a massive organization like SHRM. I have the letters JD and SPHR after my name, and I certainly couldn’t do it. But certification would have guaranteed that these people had the guts and determination to study their ass off and take a special test to show that they possessed at least a basic knowledge of general HR principals. I don’t think that is too much to ask of the leaders of an organization that represents “over 250,000 members in over 140 countries.”

This week I got a call from a man who needed someone to speak at a workshop on an emergency basis when his scheduled speaker landed in the hospital. He wanted someone to speak about “HR and something internet related”, so a couple of people gave him my name. He had no idea if I was a good public speaker, but he had looked me up on Linkedin and knew that I had the letters SPHR after my name, which gave me – and him – all the credibility he needed. I wouldn’t have landed that gig otherwise, even if I was the most knowledgeable and talented public speaker in metro Detroit.

I think we deserve as much from SHRM leadership, don’t you? Or are professional certifications a waste of time and money? Do they tell us anything at all? Let me know in the comments because I value your opinion!

(By the way, if you thought what was wrong with that picture was that it contained only one female in a profession easily dominated by females, I’m with you. But that’s another post. 😉 In the meantime, the song “Initials”.)

HR Should Quit Fiddling With Social Media

When I was recently asked by a local SHRM chapter (not my own)  if I would be interested in speaking about “what’s new” in HR management, I politely declined. First, in my opinion there is not much new in HR management, and, second, it’s not what I want to talk about to HR peeps right now.

I did offer to speak about social media in HR, titling my presentation “Old Problems, New Tools”. In response, I received the following:

Our group has had a social media presentation before, and for some reason, our members just see it as “one more thing to do”.

Oh, snap.

After I quit banging my head against the table, I was reminded of a great article I had recently read at Human Resource Executive Online, titled “HR Fiddles While Organizations Burn“. If you haven’t read it, do so. Right now.

In the article, author Margaret Morford argues that the biggest problem with the HR profession is that it is overly mired in compliance, compensation, and benefits, paying little or no attention to the strategic needs of talent management and succession planning.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because I have heard many similar complaints from HR practitioners in the social media world since I had the good fortune to become involved almost 3 years ago.

In that same time period, though, I have seen very little evidence that the online HR community is making an effort to fix that problem. Sure, we blog and tweet and write endless words about strategic issues and say great things. But do we impact those people who need it most? Hardly.

Before we try to use social media to teach HR pros how to do their jobs better, we need to convince HR practitioners to use social media. They need to be persuaded that they will earn more professional respect with the knowledge they gain through social media. We need to quit fiddling around, and make a real, concerted effort to convert  HR practitioners to its use. All of the blog posts in the world are not going to change the profession if we don’t change who’s reading.

Think of the impact on the profession that could be made if everyone on Unbridled Talent‘s list of Top 100 HR & Recruiting Industry Pros To Follow On Twitter actually mentored and taught at least one HR practitioner how to use social media to the same extent they do. I don’t mean standing up and giving a presentation to 100 people and hoping for the best. I want them (you?) to find an HR practitioner who thinks social media is an administrative chore, and teach them otherwise. They’ll pay it forward.

Instead of fiddling, let’s build an entire orchestra.


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Vetting Social Media Speakers

The Klout "fail" puppy is cuter than a fail whale.

If the term “human resources” is in your name, like Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), it would be reasonable to expect that you know something about choosing qualified candidates for a job function. Right?

So if SHRM – or a SHRM-affiliate – is looking for a conference speaker to discuss Twitter and how it relates to employment law, it would also be reasonable to expect that the speaker is knowledgeable about, well . . . Twitter and employment law.

Am I missing something here?

I ask because SHRM, the national organization, and some SHRM affiliates, don’t seem to agree with me. They have an unusual habit of presenting employment lawyers to talk about the crossroads of law and social media, but who know nothing, or close to nothing, about social media.

I am not making this up.

I first came into personal contact with this questionable practice in March 2010, at the SHRM Legal-Legislative Conference. Better writers than I blogged about it. Since then, I have encountered the practice several times, most recently at the massive SHRM annual conference in Las Vegas. Check here and here for rants about that session. Sadly, my own state will be adding to this travesty this October, when they present a session on “Twitter and Terminations”, led by an employment lawyer who is not on Twitter, and whose entire social media presence consists of a LinkedIn profile.

This practice truly short-changes attendees. Attendees have every right to expect that a human resources organization has properly vetted their speakers and trainers, and that those people have a certain amount of expertise in the totality of their topic. This is especially true since it is so easy to search people using Google to see if they have any kind of social presence at all.

If SHRM and other organizations want to really delve into their evaluation of a speaker’s social media involvement, they can also use rating sites like Klout or PeerIndex to see how involved a speaking candidate is on social media. I am not advocating that a potential speaker has a particular rating or number, but they should at least have one.

Is that really too much to ask?

My Klout score has dropped lately, but I least I have a score!
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A Tale Of Two Vendors

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?

Caller: (silence)

Me: Well, I don’t have a vendor roll on my blog. I don’t have a blog roll at all.

Caller: (silence)

Me: Um, who’s your client, anyway?

Caller: (blank)**

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:

Hi Joan,

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.

5 Favorite Blogs From SHRM11

One of the things I was most looking forward to at the recent SHRM Annual Conference was working on my ability to blog faster and more in the moment. Right now I have a problem writing my blog because it takes me . . .  forever.  I’m too busy thinking and analyzing and considering and deliberating. I intended to force myself at SHRM11 to post at least once every day, and even more if I was able to find something to video.

Since I wasn’t able to attend, I read lots of  blogs and watched the tweet stream as much as I could, because I still wanted to see if I could learn the secret to blogging fast and well. Here are some of my favorites that were posted during the merry madness that was SHRM11. (During means not before Saturday and not after Wednesday).


In a large conference like this, I like someone to give me a paragraph or two about several different topics, so I can get a real overview of the total conference experience. Long, involved posts about a particular session have their place – if you are interested in the topic and like the writer. But telling me about the weather, the crowds, the lines, etc. really gives me a feeling of being there.  My favorite in this category was “Notes From SHRM11 – Day 1, written by Steve Boese and posted on his HR Technology blog.


Attorneys analyze everything to a fault, and I’m no different, so I am a sucker for a blog that takes some kind of fact and scrutinizes it closely. Sometimes I want to argue back, and sometimes I want to jump up and pump my fist in agreement, but the key is that it makes me think. I’m still thinking about this post days later: “The New CEO of SHRM . . . 2011 Version . . .” from Kris Dunn at The HR Capitalist.


A lot of people like to blog about the keynotes and their speeches, and I saw a lot of cool quotes from all of  keynotes. What doesn’t happen as much is translating something a keynote said into a real, actionable “go do it” kind of takeaway. In this category, I like how Charlie Judy, author of HR Fishbowl, took one single quote from Arianna Huffington and turned it into “here’s what to do”  bullet points in “The HR Tribe of Trust.”


Tweeting is a micro-blog, remember? Nobody, and I really mean nobody, can live tweet an HR event the way Jennifer McClure (@CincyRecruiter) can. Based on the #SHRM11 stream, I am not alone in this opinion.


In my opinion, more and more written blogs are going to be replaced with videos in the coming years. I watched tons of interviews, but sound quality and rambling answers made me cut many of them short. My favorite? Not an interview blog at all, but Laurie Ruettimann‘s 2011 SHRM 63rd Annual Conference & Exposition Swag Video. Sure, it’s funny and she talks about a lot of “goofy shit”, but her message about marketing and branding isn’t goofy at all.

SHRM11 (Day 1) – Of Mice and Men

It was about 1:30 am on Saturday morning. I had not yet been to bed, which is not unusual for a night owl like me. But instead of goofing off on the computer, I was putting the finishing touches on my packing for the SHRM annual conference. My flight for Las Vegas was leaving around 5:00 late that afternoon. I generally don’t pack more than a few hours in advance of traveling anywhere, so my excitement was real and palpable.

I was in the walk-in closet with the door closed, so I would not disturb my husband Sy, who was sleeping and planning to leave for work around 4:00 am. But I heard him get out of bed anyway, and leave the bedroom. About 30 seconds later, I heard something else: “Joan! Help me!”

It took me a few extra seconds to find him, because he wasn’t in the bathroom where I thought he had gone. I found him sitting in his La-Z-y Boy recliner in the man-cave he created when my daughter departed the house for good. He was white as the literal ghost from head to toe, clammy, sweating profusely, and unresponsive.

I called 911, gave them my frantic details, and then spent a minute or two sequestering my 4 dogs so they wouldn’t interfere with the paramedics. As I was returning to Sy, I heard him mutter that he had to go to the bathroom (his eyes were still closed). But before I could reach him, he stood up, and promptly passed out, falling on the floor. “This is not good, ” was my obvious thought.

The paramedics came, sufficiently revived him for transport, and drove him to the hospital for me.

Today is Sunday, the first day of the SHRM conference. I am still home, trying to remain close to my husband, who remains hospitalized. In case you were wondering, he had orthostatic hypotension caused by hypovolemia, which is why medical costs are so high in this country. Lawyers, who, on average, make less money, call it low blood pressure resulting from bleeding. Tests and such are still sorting it all out, but he will be fine and be home soon.

So I won’t be tweeting and blogging from the conference, as promised about a week ago.  After all

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

This poem, written by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1785, is often translated to American English as “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

Which also means that, since at least 1785, shit happens.


My husband won't be doing what he planned this week, either.



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A Personal Note For SHRM11 (Day Minus 1)

Just call me Marla Hooch.

Remember her from the 1992 movie A League Of Their Own?  Marla is a powerhouse baseball player, but is socially awkward and physically unattractive.  Even her name is supposed to be funny.

Marla’s character reaches a crossroads in the film when she is a little drunk after a night in a bar, and sings the classic torch song “It Had To Be You” to a gentleman she has met there. Her singing is horribly off key and her gestures overly dramatic and unintentionally comical. She looks and sounds, in a word, ridiculous.

But Marla doesn’t know or care how ridiculous she is, because she is singing with her whole heart and with love to her man. And he accepts her efforts with gratitude and adoration. 

As a blogger, sometimes I think I may look and sound like Marla Hooch to whatever readers I have. I don’t show up on blogrolls, and I doubt that I will ever be on anyone’s “read-this-blog” list. There is probably a large audience of people who are saying to themselves (and others), “Why does she do this? Doesn’t she know how ridiculous she looks?”

I blog for the same reason that Marla Hooch was singing to Nelson: deep, heartfelt emotion, and a desire to use that stage to connect and convey that emotion to the audience – even if that audience is only one person, and even if I don’t do it all that well.

I don’t expect you to love and adore me back (that could get kind of creepy ;-)), but I do thank you from the bottom of my heart if you have read today’s blog this far, because

I wandered around, and finally found
The somebody who could make me be true

It had to be you.

Back to SHRM tomorrow. Thanks again.

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SHRM11(Day Minus 2) – SWAG Rant

Our swag is made of metal

Swag. Stuff We All Get. Some people call it CPC (Cheap Plastic Crap), because it usually is. I’m not talking about all of the vendors asking attendees to “stop in and register to win an i-something”, because that’s not something we all get. I’m talking pens. Plastic letter openers. Mini hand sanitizer.

I am going to hate this part of SHRM.

My early experience with trade shows is very different than the type of conference/exhibitions that I have attended since becoming involved in HR. Before HR and employment law conferences, I attended real trade shows that existed solely for buyers to find sellers. The two shows I attended semi-regularly were the National Restaurant Association (NRA) Show and the NASFT Fancy Food Show. (In fact, the first trip my now-husband took me on after we started dating was to the NRA Show. Romantic, huh? ;-))

Both of these shows are far larger than SHRM Annual. Last year the NRA Show had around 2,000 exhibitors and more than 42,000 attendees. The Fancy Food Show, while not as large as the NRA Show, is still a behemoth compared to SHRM Annual: 2,400 exhibitors and 24,000 attendees. This year, SHRM expects around 13,000 attendees and 650 exhibitors.

So why don’t the vendors at the NRA Show or the Fancy Food Show use cheap tchotckes to lure those huge numbers of attendees to their booths? Because they sell products or services that the attendees want or need, and the attendees go to their booths specifically to see, touch, observe or demo those products. Or eat. There is lots of eating going on at these shows, which was the primary reason that I happily went. Vendors at most trade shows don’t need to bait the buyer – everyone is there to conduct business, and everyone acts that way.

So when the exhibition hall opens on Sunday, I’m probably going to cry a little bit, because I am going to be thinking about all of the fossil fuel that was consumed in order to produce and ship those tchotckes, and how many chemicals are going to leech into the ground when they end up in a landfill.

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