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I'm just a girl in the world.. that kind of likes to write. Mom of 2 teen girls & work as Talent Attraction & Marketing professional. Oh, & I'm addicted to my phone, Social Media, HR/Talent Marketing & Caffeine... you can learn more about me at www.linkedin.com/in/theonecrystal

My #HRSouthwest Conference Recap

Ever see the movie “Mixed Nuts?”  It was this sleepy little remake released in 1994 of a formerly released French film hit, Le Père Noël est une ordure.  It was basically about a crazy night for a group of crisis hotline workers & some of the people they come into contact with – people they were trying to help – and the hilarity that ensued.  There was a big cast including Steve Martin, Adam Sandler,  Madeline Khan, Juliette Lewis, Garry Shandling (among others); that achieved little critical acclaim and got, if you’ll pardon the pun, mixed reviews commercially.  Personally, I loved it… but recognize it’s a little obscure & know a lot of people missed it altogether.  Those who did see the movie, though, either really enjoyed its quicky, offbeat humor … or really, really didn’t.

That same summation could pretty much be applied to HRSouthwest 2011 conference that took place in Ft. Worth, Texas recently  (10/31 – 11/2).   This was not my first HRSouthwest conference and as it was held in the same location that it’d been for the last several years; it was easy enough to find.  Much like the remake, it was smaller & somewhat paled in comparison to its predecessor(s).  Some people liked the smaller, more ‘compact’ setting – goodness knows that it’s hard on the feet to trek all over creation to get from session to session.  But over and over I heard disgruntled sentiments of what that represented:  fewer sessions, variety, and thus reduced opportunities to learn.

With this being one of several conferences that I personally attend throughout the year; the size alone didn’t really concern me much.  There were still more sessions than I’d be able to attend and a few big names in attendance … along with some I’d seen, heard & was excited to hear from again.  HR Stars even, if you will.  Daniel Pink, Jessica Miller-Merrell, Carrie Corbin, Matt Kaiser, Bryan Wempen, the OC Tanner “Orange Revolution” speaker… they all gave fantastic ‘performances.’  There was good buzz coming out of their sessions, they were clearly glad to be there and part of the experience.  They brought value to the conference and to those that were in attendance; and I hope they’re asked back to speak again.  I figured what I didn’t catch in sessions I’d pick up on the Social Media networks; probably in the “Twittersphere.”

Social Media was largely classified under “risk management” in the session tracks.  While I understand the whys and wherefores behind that; it reiterated what was generally accepted by those in attendance as a failure to truly embrace social.  Which, I guess, is not altogether unlike many employers… who’ve accepted that we can’t completely ignore social media in our HR … but aren’t quite sure what to do with it yet.

The net result is misidentified categories – Social Media, while surely should be covered in risk; shouldn’t be confined there.  It’s part of employee communications, it’s part of global issues and strategy, is likely part of your recruiting strategy (or will be).  With the widespread acceptance of smart-phones; it’s presence in the workplace is pervasive.. whether your IT department has blocked it from the company internet/intranet or not.   To ‘train’ “HR Champions” we need to talk about how to use social more thoroughly throughout HR.  Yes, we need the 101 classes that were offered; of which Jessica Miller-Merrell, Carrie Corbin, Matt Kaiser, Tim Sackett, and Bryan Wempen did a good job of leading.   Hopefully, next year we’ll either see social as it’s own track or more content/sessions dispersed throughout existing categories; because this year we needed more in-depth training… and we weren’t the only ones.

The Conference itself had a Social Media “Dissociative Identify Disorder” happening; it’s the first conference I’ve ever been to where there were literally half-a-dozen hashtags:

  •  #HRSouthwest (1),
  • #HRSW (2),
  • #HRSW11 (3),
  • #HRSWC (4),
  • #HRSWC11 (5),
  • #HRSW2011 (6).

This made it hard for micro-bloggers to build buzz; but provided some comic relief as the “multiple personalities” on Twitter became kind of a running joke.  Ideally, you pick your hashtag prior to the conference and hype it up so that vendors, participants, speakers & those not in attendance can build a buzz before the conference even starts.  During the conference, Twitter acts as a way for participants to share/get info from other sessions they weren’t able to be in & communicate w/ everyone…  and it shows people what they were missing so they get another opportunity to want to come next year.  Again, that’s the ideal; the reality was that on day 2 the conference handle @HRSouthwest announced the official hashtag.

Which leads me to what more than redeems any deficiency that #HRSouthwest’s ‘performance’ might have had.. at least in my eyes:  the conference staff.  Yes, there were some glitches, and some changes I’d hope to see next year (such as a predefined, executed Social Media Strategy) to bring this back to the glittering memory I have of my first #HRSouthwest conference.  But, for a staff that I understand had major cast changes of their own in the past year; I found them to be kind, extremely responsive and really wanting to make this year’s conference count… while keeping an eye to adjustments they need to make to improve the future.  Marlene, the Marketing Director for the conference, was already taking notes and brainstorming with attendees on ways to make the conference more “socially” friendly and interactive.  Personally, that went a long way with me.

To draw a different parallel, I’m chalking up HRSouthwest 2011 to what would be called a rebuilding year in football.  It was still fun to be at the games; but I’m really looking forward to seeing what they do with all they learned this year in 2012.

Until then…

(1) 131 tweets total w/ 100,000+ impressions

(2) 403 tweets total w/ 25,233 impressions

(3) 251 tweets total w/ 127,415 impressions

(4) 243 tweets total w/ 323,244 impressions

(5) 23 tweets total w/ 117,223 impressions

(6) 13 tweets total w/ 7,458 impressions

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One Comment on “My #HRSouthwest Conference Recap”

  1. t-mobile 11/08/2011 at 4:36 am #

    Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for first-time blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

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