On Thursday I’m attending #ConnectingHR in London. It’s an unconference and community for those with an interest in HR and social Media, (though not exclusive to one or the other.)
The Community DJ’s are writer, speaker and consultant on most things human capital, Jon Ingham and head of HR Recruiters Courtenay HR, Gareth Jones. The main aim of the unconference is to encourage HR professionals to explore and adopt social media within their working lives.
The take up of communication within social media channels by HR practitioners has been quite low, not just within the UK, but also globally. Reactions range from:
Waste of time
The domain of the mad
A risk to law and order
Not worth the effort
It’s for Kids
Social media activists can sometimes become evangelists and come across a bit scary. They talk a different language, a bit like text talk and show disbelief and disdain to those who might suggest it’s not quite what they are looking for. I know quite a few of the attendees, and some have taken part in the #tru events I run. They have got past the scary stage. have no fear about asking them anything, they love talking.
New adopters have to go with a big dose of trust. If you look at a twitter stream, a Facebook update page or any of the usual places, it’s hard to see how it is anything but a playground. That trust can come from talking about your fears with more experienced practitioners, where you won’t be judged or charged. #connectingHR is perfect for this conversation.
How can this be a serious business place for a serious, grown up job like HR?
It takes time as a user to realise that actually, most people are responsible about what they do. They don’t behave any less responsibly on-line as they do off-line and understand corporate responsibility. The company won’t be opened up to litigation with every tweet. Find out just how many of the active users have ended up in court.
Consultants, vendors and the like build networks that could result in sales. Exactly like in- person networking, they know that if they start pitching on first meeting, then they won’t get anywhere. Those that are succesful in converting networks in to sales, do so because they expect that no more than 1% of their connections will convert in to sales. Those that buy from them do so by recognition and trust, not because they pushed their offering at every meeting. New adopters fear they will be sold to as soon as they send out their first tweet. This creates a fear of connecting with others outside of their direct circle. The older adopters know that often the best information or help comes from vendors and consultants that have built specialist knowledge and connections that they are happy to share, without expectation of sales.Social Media can become the HR practitioners greatest knowledge resource.
My hope for #connectingHR is that we don’t get hung up in talking about channels like twitter or Facebook, the benefits of each and how they work. I think of my social networks as one channel for communicating, with different places carrying different messages. I hope the users show that we are normalish people, and show the real benefits that can be gained by fully integrating social media in to HR, Learning and Development, Internal Communications, Employer Branding, Recruiting and the many areas it can become a really valuable add-on.
I also hope we don’t get all evangelical and talk in “silver bullet” terms, or separate strategies and policies. I’ve come to the opinion (and it took a while), that the best way to adopt social media is to look at how you integrate the tools and technology in to what you already do. What can they bring and how can they enhance what you do? Not replace it or change the way things are done. More evolutionary than revolutionary. Having separate policies and procedures rather than integrated policies and procedures is what creates fear and blocks take up in my opinion.
I hope we won’t spend the day arguing over who owns social media, and that the biggest achievment will be to take away the fear and make the expectation realistic.
The potential conversations are great. I have no doubt that this will be the first of many more conversations that involve HR practitioners as an integrated part of the conversation. Theres room for all. Theres still tickets available. Buy one!
Good luck Jon and Gareth.