#SHRMChat On Hiatus

Stats from the April 2013 SHRMChat
Stats from the April 2013 SHRMChat

hi·a·tus

noun, plural hi·a·tus·es, hi·a·tus.

1.  a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.
2.  a missing part; gap or lacuna: Scholars attempted to account for the hiatus in the medieval manuscript.
3.  any gap or opening. (from dictionary.com)

When I started SHRMChat in November 2011, I was on the Detroit SHRM board of directors as its first-ever social media manager. I knew I needed some discussion about establishing a social media policy and presence in a SHRM-affiliated local chapter, but the only people to really talk to were people actually outside the chapter.  I called a lot of friends on the phone, but I also knew that social media was the perfect tool to start a dialog among far-flung volunteers of other locals, without waiting for a leadership conference or formal meeting to get, give, share and reject ideas.

A monthly Twitter chat seemed like the ideal platform, so that’s what I started. As my good friend Steve Browne would say, I was geeked.

For a while, it worked exactly the way I thought it would. A small community came together and added their considerable expertise on issues such as conferences, membership, social media, programming, and advocacy. I also had fun.

But lately I have found that I have been struggling to maintain any kind of momentum with SHRMChat. I have a difficult time thinking of themes or topics, and a hard time finding speakers or guests. I no longer have a board position on a local affiliate, either, making me feel like an uniformed outsider.

So here we are, on the eve of the big national SHRM conference, and I have decided to step away from SHRMChat for a while. Yeah, my timing sucks, too.

I truly hope the break isn’t permanent, because I really enjoy the conversations and connections that SHRMChat gives me on a regular basis. I hope to use this interruption to find a way to bring SHRMChat back, with some different leadership and maybe some new blood.

If you have any interest in stepping up, or have suggestions to share, please let me know.

Michigan SHRM State Conference – Rants and Raves

It’s been a while since I have done a rants and raves blog about a conference I’ve attended (this was the first), even though there have been several conferences I’ve been at that I could have ranted blogged about.

I can’t overlook the recent Michigan conference, held last week in Novi, MI, though. I have previously avoided attending the Michigan conference because I have felt that my personal professional development dollars were spent in better venues. But this year my home SHRM chapter, Detroit SHRM, was the conference sponsor, so I felt a little more obligated to be there. Plus, it was held about a 3 minute drive from my Michigan house (still unsold!) so travel arrangements were cheap and easy. Cheap and easy is a huge motivator sometimes. I was also able to volunteer during the conference, which always makes me feel more productive. So here are my thoughts about MISHRM12:

RANTS

No social media presence – At least not much of one. To be fair, the organizers did create a blog site this year, but it contained nothing much but presenter or exhibitor advertisements for their session or booth. There was no useful content or information on the blog at all. There was no Facebook page at all. There were a few brave souls on Twitter (I was one of them). Here’s what one person sarcastically said about the MISHRM Twitter presence:

No, there weren’t even baby steps – more like a comatose baby in a crib. It makes me wonder if anyone from MISHRM even attends and understands their own sessions, since the always-wonderful Curtis Midkiff, Director of Social Engagement for SHRM (the national organization) gave a compelling session on why social media is important. Sad.

Sponsored sessions – MISHRM sold sponsorships of each learning session, so someone from the sponsor introduced each session speaker. BUT – not until after giving a little commercial for their company and why it was wonderful. I hated this with a passion. I didn’t think it was appropriate for people to be forced to listen to a sales pitch before they got what they paid and came for – learning. I wasn’t the only one who felt this way.

Nice theme, but poor execution – The theme of the conference was “The Difference is U”. It was all supposed to be about learning and college/university. A lot could have been done with the theme – encouraging everyone to wear their college logos or colors during the conference, cheerleaders with pom pons announcing things, and presenters and vendors getting into the act. It would have made the conference FUN. But attendees, presenters, and exhibitors still wore their business clothes, with the exception of a “Tailgate Party” at the end of the Thursday session day. Unfortunately, most people left the conference hall right after sessions ended – it was clearly a commuting group of locals who wanted to hightail it home. Allowing people to have more fun during the session day would have held a lot more of them there for evening festivities. Ask Steve Browne the marketing value of letting your theme set your tone, who started his 2011 “HR Rocks” conference in Ohio dressed as a rock star and lip syncing a rock song. People still talk about that conference.

RAVES

Location – In a recent #SHRMChat about conferences, location and facilities was considered to be highly important when planning a conference. I loved this facility because the session rooms were fairly close together, the exhibitor hall was large and spacious with a lot of room to sit, and it was conveniently located right off an expressway. There was no attached hotel, but since I wasn’t staying at a hotel anyway it didn’t bother me a bit, and kept the walking to a minimum. The official hotel was only a few minutes away, and shuttle service was offered.

Location – There was WiFi capability, which put it ahead of many conferences I have attended, and was also rated as hugely important during the previously mentioned SHRMChat. I’m not sure many people were using it (see Rant #1), but it was there. Kudos. By the way, there was also a mobile conference app – which has nothing to do with location but shows that the organizers CAN be up-to-date if they want to be.

Location – Lots of available parking and food service was . . . serviceable. The biggest complaint from attendees was that there were no soft drinks, even during scheduled meals. Being a local, neighborhood girl, I was able to go out for meals and get back in plenty of time. That’s a rave in my book. 😉

 

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!

 

OHIO 10-MICHIGAN 0

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:

Actual name of Michigan session

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?

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