Not Able To Attend A Conference

Every year there are countless conferences I want to attend and every year I have to pass up on almost all of them. It is disappointing but I find ways to follow along. If you find yourself in a similar situation to me, what might you do to still gain insight about the conference?


LinkedIn – Check LinkedIn events and see who is attending and begin to network with them. Some individuals you may know and others maybe not. But connecting in advance could lead to sharing of information and feedback on the conference and topics and maybe even the sharing of notes about valuable take aways.

Twitter – Find out the particular hashtag of the conference and follow along with what is being shared and follow along. See what is being shared and even participate in the conversation from your home or office. Good tools to follow a particular hashtag include:

Ustream – Some conferences, like the 140conf will use Ustream to play live video of the sessions so that everyone may see what is happening. You are able to listen to the sessions, just miss out on the in-person networking.

Facebook – Some conferences will create a Facebook Page for people to join and get upcoming information about a conference or seminar. What is also valuable about these Pages is that the conference hosts may also upload pieces of the conference after the fact in video form or transcripts or with reviews.

YouTube – Many conferences or conference attendees will take video and upload the content to YouTube to share with the masses. This is an excellent way to get information but also hear others opinions on topics that were discussed.

Blogs – Use Google and do a search for blogs from the conference name and see what others wrote about their experience. These posts may appear after the conference but they will be helpful in accumulating additional knowledge about events.

While all of these are good tools to use, it is helpful to follow a variety of channels to maximize the impact and knowledge of what is being discussed. Conversations even continue online after events or into the evenings. Knowing that we are all busy and following along all day is not realistic; pick and choose what makes sense for you. And chances are, you will network and meet new people along the way even though you are not there in person.

LinkedIn Tips

I need to do a min-rant about LinkedIn.

It seems that everyone on LinkedIn is ready to give you a tip on how to better your experience. And this includes me as I have absolutely given my input on good practices to include on LinkedIn. But have you ever considered the “where” or “why” the tip was suggested?

Not every “tip” is going to be right for you. It is common sense people. Just because someone makes a suggestion does not mean YOU have to do it. Pick and choose what you are comfortable attempting or incorporating into your profile or usage of the site. There are many tips that are fantastic but are not right for me, for whatever reason. Some tips will make sense for you and others are going to make you scratch your head and wonder why you would do this. Be selective but follow-through to maximize the impact.

And that is one more LinkedIn tip for you.

Poor Interview Etiquette

Recently I had an interview experience that I haven’t had in quite sometime. I’ve had candidates cancel interviews for a variety of reasons but I can firmly say that I have never had this happen to me before.

I scheduled an interview with a candidate one week ago. Everything was great from the candidate perspective including the day and the time of the interview. My colleague and I followed up throughout the week with updates and received no concerns or conflicts from the candidate. Two-hours and two-minutes before the interview, we receive an email thanking us for the opportunity but the candidate has accepted another offer. Okay, a last minute cancelation.

This left us wondering when the offer was made.

After some very easy searching, I found a tweet that the candidate had accepted the job the same day as the interview was scheduled!

Maybe the candidate was excited for good things happening all in one day. Maybe the candidate didn’t know how to respond to an interview request. Maybe the candidate wasn’t thinking at all at that moment.

I conduct a lot of Twitter searches, Boolean searches and social media searches. I failed to follow my own rule of checking a candidates comments. I do not seek anything specific, I often just look to see how they use social media and not to make a hiring decision based upon what I find.

  • Should I have looked more often at their social media feed? Yes!
  • Should I have received a call or email well prior to the interview? Yes!

Sometimes it takes just a moment to realize what you should do and what you should not do. I certainly learned here, not sure the candidate learned anything though.

3 steps to poor interview etiquette

  1. accept a job
  2. accept a 1st interview with another company the same day as accepting the job
  3. cancel the scheduled interview with less than 2 hours notice

Lesson learned.


Why Numbers Alone Don’t Matter

Everyone is caught up in numbers and metrics. Some metrics are dead on and others wecan do without. Two such metrics people tend to get caught up in revolve around thenumber of friends/followers and the number of tweets.

Why are these numbers not as relevant as you may think them to be?


Don't Cross the Streams!


Number of Facebook Friends or Twitter Followers

Having a large following is a nice topic to throw around in a conversation, but does itreally help you? Many celebrities, pseudo-celebrities, industry experts, authors, and manyothers have a pretty strong follower count which helps from a message push or listeningperspective. Now, look at how many people they follow and see if you are valued in theirnetwork.

Probably not.

It is great for them to push out their information and hope you will share with yournetwork as well. Good for them. Not so great for you.

This is in no means a recommendation to follow everyone who follows you. But withall the “social media experts” talking about engagement, do they really engage or justengage when spoken to? Think about the last time someone with a high friend/followercount interacted with you off of one of your messages without you mentioning orreferencing that person.


Number of Tweets

The number of times you tweet should not mean a thing? Why you are probably asking.

Well, as Twitter is an unbelievable tool for conversations, learning, listening, sharing andnetworking, it also is a great tool for connecting with apparently every other social mediatool created.

You may connect Twitter with LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare (and other location-basedservices), Tumblr, MySpace, blogs, etc. etc. etc.

The more networks you are connected to, the more potential of redundant message beingposted, of locations being shared, of somewhat meaningless data.

Should I be able to read all of your tweets on LinkedIn or Facebook? You could argue oneither side of this and make effective cases. What I am saying is that it is some of thesemessages are redundant, auto generated and used to somewhat spam all of your socialnetworking channels.

When I view my Twitter stream, I don’t care to see all of the Foursquare check-in’s. Iknow I am not alone here but I also realize plenty of others share the opposite feeling.

But in strictly looking at Foursquare and Twitter, it is conceivable that half of your tweetsare Foursquare check-ins. That alone artificially inflates your tweets to show how active aTwitter user you are.

Other people/accounts use messageing services that auto tweet for them and possiblyrepost the same message multiple times per day (full disclosure: yes, I sometimes do thisfor my blog posts… but not every day and for everything I read).


In closing, numbers really don’t mean everything if value isn’t there. Isnt’ that why ROIis always an interesting discussion point!

The 2011 Retention eBook

What??? Ben Eubanks let me contribute to yet another eBook?

Another amazing list of contributors (how I made the cut is beyond me). In all seriousness, Ben has great vision and passion for so many topics that this is just another incredible resource he as published. Hope you find this to be a useful tool to spark your thoughts and discussions within your own organization.

Below is an overview Ben prepared to provide an overview of this project:

As the economy turns around, up to 84% of employees across the US have said they are looking at the possibility of changing jobs.

That’s a lot of people.

We all know the numbers on employee turnover and the impact it has on the bottom line. So what’s our alternative? Retention. Keep the good people around (not by force, hopefully) and keep them on our team.

That’s where the free eBook titled “Where do you think you’re going? A guide to employee retention” comes in. It’s full of strategies and ideas for how to retain your best employees in turbulent economic times.

Special thanks to Shauna Moerke for helping me to promote the guide through the HR Carnival channel. I also want to thank the contributors for offering up some great, useful content: Tim Sackett, Heather Vogel, Benjamin McCall, Chris Ferdinandi, Paul Hebert, Laura Schroeder, Dave Ryan, Keith McIlvaine, Robin Schooling, and Stuart at 1.00 FTE. You can find links to each of these contributors’ websites within the guide.

As you would expect, a great introduction from Ben. Now, please click HERE to download the free eBook.

Interview With #DriveThruHR

On March 28th, I had an unbelievable opportunity to be interviewed by William Tincup and Bryan Wempen on their BlogTalkRadio show: DrivetTruHR.

This was my first opportunity to speak with William and Bryan and I am sorry I haven’t spoken with them earlier! I have interacted with them on Twitter but have not met them anywhere. After speaking with them, these are two engaging and interesting individuals (plus William and I have a passion for Manchester United which is always a solid bonding point).

It was great getting calls from Animal, who is always looking to stir the preverbial “pot”, and a call from Tammy, from the 616 in Michigan. It was just knowing that someone is listening out there, regardless of the fact that I know William and Bryan have an impressive listener base.

Thank you again to William and Bryan and everyone at DriveThruHR for listening to me yesterday. If you want to hear the entire conversation, you may do so here.

Hope you enjoy!

What Might You Do To Keep Your Talent

Businesses are always looking for ways to improve upon retention, regardless of how well the numbers appear. Have you, your HR organization, or individual managers reviewed ways to improve upon your retention figures?

One important note to begin, regardless of how desired your company is (like Google) that does not make every person a match for your company. some people just do not work out and that will happen forever.

So what are a few ideas your company may consider to improve retention? Below are 5 (five) ideas to get you thinking:

Manager Reviews
An important topic from 2 (two) perspectives. First, put the right people into management positions. Let’s face it, being a manager isn’t for everyone and there is nothing wrong with that! Managers need to be trained and provided with tools to allow them to be successful. But don’t put someone into this role who isn’t equipped to make others grow, succeed, learn and improve. Second, allow employees to provide candid feedback, a 360 is a nice tool to use. This review will answer two potential concerns; (1) how are managers effectiveness with their group and (2) are their areas of concern that arose from the team that could be a reason for them leaving. Get ahead of the curve and understand what is happening on a micro-level.

Corporate Culture
Culture is an important part of any company. Negative culture is sure to either chase or scare talent away. If your company is progressive that is an important consideration. What about intangibles such as team outings, company sponsored events, free coffee, on-site cafeteria, healthy living programs, and so many other avenues to think about. If employees enjoy coming to the office, enjoy who they work with (and for), and feel the company is there for them… there is still something to be said for these considerations.

In an age of benefit discussions, like Obama-care, benefits remain a selling point. Health care is a hot-button and is one topic that always is discussed in the hiring process. If your company has a strong healh plan, I bet it is easier to attract talent in the offer stages (presuming the company and work are interesting as well). But what if your company has a poor health plan? Do you find it something you have to sell around? I bet so. I also bet that strong health packages are an encouragement to retain employees as well.

Physical Work Environment
This overlaps the “company culture” topic a little. Do employees have a cube or an office? Is collaboration encouraged? Is your company in a desirable location? Minor enhancements to an office can make a huge impact on your employees.

Actual Work
Are your employees interested and challenged with their day-to-day activities. Do you hear excitement when they talk about their job? If any employee is not happy with what they are doing, that is a sure clue that talent may be leaving soon. Take a proactive approach to learning how motivated and interested your employees are, showing interest is just the starting point to being interested in your workforce.

Are all of these realistic for your company? Maybe, but as I said, these are just ideas to get you thinking.

The competition for talent will always be a priority for companies, and so will the challenge of retaining talent. How your company adapts will certainly be a part of this evolution and reflect into the metrics. Help make your company a company with a #winning retention mentality.

White Pager: Employee Engagement

Today I am fortunate enough to be a contributor to a great eBook published by Ben Eubanks; AKA upstartHR, AKA The HR Ninja, AKA an awesome HR pro who engages.

Ben wants to collaborate with the HR community and provide resources to help all of us grow professionally, share great material and (most importantly) challenge each other to improve HR practices.

Want to see what this is all about? Then have a look at the summary below and then read this eBook. I certainly hope you enjoy what is being shared.

Passion. A sense of purpose. Engagement. Studies show that employees that are “engaged” in their work perform significantly better than those who are not. The problem is finding real, tangible ways to make that happen. Good thing there’s (now) an eBook for that.

Recently I reached out to a few people to see if they wanted to contribute to an eBook to help HR pros, managers, and business leaders learn more about this topic. The response was a good one, and today I’m happy to share the free eBook with you. It’s titled “All together now! A guide to employee engagement.”

There are personal stories about engagement and what it means, tips for companies on communication and culture, and some really great, specific how-to content.

Special thanks to Shauna Moerke for helping me to promote the guide through the HR Carnival channel. I also want to thank the contributors for offering up some great, useful content: Nathaniel Rottenberg, Chris Ferdinandi, Paul Smith, Laura Schroeder, Dwane Lay, Dave Ryan, Krista Francis, Jennifer V. Miller, Lisa Rosendahl, Keith McIlvaine, Karen Seketa, Tamkara Adun, Cori Curtis, Lance Haun, Robin Schooling, and Tanmay Vora. You can find links to each of these contributors’ websites within the guide.

A Guide To Employee Engagement (click on the button to download)


Image credit to Ben Eubanks and Zazzle.

It’s Not Just About The Money

Okay job seekers, let’s talk about WIIFM (What’s In It For Me). You are looking for a position in your career, to grow within a company, stretch your ability, learn new skills and be successful. Well, at least that is what I look for in a position as I want to be challenged and make an impact on my company.

What do you truly review when you are looking at a new position? Obviously the job itself, definitely the salary requirements as well as the benefits that are provided. But how deep do you ask about benefits.

Yes, health benefits (medical, dental, vision, disability), retirement contributions as well as vacation/holiday/PTO days are all important to make sure you understand. Do you ask deeper, probing questions about additional or non-high profile benefits?

Think about a few other key benefits you should be asking about and wanting insight to from a company:

  • Business Attire – Although you most likely paid attention to this during the interview process it is always good to reconfirm at the start.
  • Core Business Hours – Make sure you know what hours you are expected to either be in the office or be available. Many of us continue to do work after hours but core hours are another topic important to consider.
  • Company Culture – Yes, company culture is an absolute selling point for many of us. It is important to like (not Facebook “like”) who you work with and how the team works together. It isn’t fun going to work and feeling like you are on an island. Working from Home – A great benefit as this will save on gas, car wear-and-tear, dry cleaning and other expenses. It might even be a tax write off for some people.
  • Corporate Discounts – Companies partner together for mutual benefit. Companies such as Dell and HP will offer corporate discounts for employees purchasing computers or accessories; Brooks Brothers offers a clothing discount. Local stores may also contribute for gym memberships, car repair discounts, and more.
  • Travel – Is travel required for this position? Travel could be a positive or negative given each individuals circumstances.
  • Additional Benefits – Ask the question, “are there any other benefits I am unaware that employees receive?” Could be an on-site cafeteria, dry cleaning services, or free memberships to whatever.

If you don’t ask, companies will not tell you everything. They may try to, but do your best to learn in advance.

Get a complete picture of a position and a company before you make a decision. It is your career and (hopefully) you will be there for at least a few years. Make the right decision and look at the complete package… it could actually add to the value of the opportunity.

Photo credit to WebRewards

Don’t Be A Wallflower – Be Heard

Being in social media takes more than just pushing out information, it takes involvement… engagement. It is about more than your name or your company logo or brand, it is being there to converse and interact with the community.

Social media is a community, like it or not, and is a particular chosen and accepted platform for diverse people to connect and talk about everything from breakfast/lunch/dinner to movies to video games to customer service to shopping to job searches to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Not every message is for everyone but each person’s community will have some sort of theme to it. That is where Twitter lists and Facebook pages come into high regard.

If I want to follow thought leaders in mobile marketing & recruiting, I will follow a specialized group of industry experts to discuss the topic. If I want to make a crock pot meal, I will interact with those that love sharing recopies.

Social media is more than self-promotion and publication but it is about interaction, networking and relationships. How do you achieve this?


Following a wide array of people makes attending a conference so much more interesting and personable. For some of us, going to a crowded conference makes the introvert become prominent. But if you are able to find a friendly face from social media that you have been conversing with for some time in the room, this event just became more interesting and friendly. For others of us, meeting new people is not a problem but social media lets those connections develop for a longer lasting period of time.

Do you use LinkedIn Groups to engage others? You do not need to ask questions but by joining groups and participating in the conversations you are much more likely to exchange professional ideas and even brainstorm on the topics you may not have ever considered previously.

Engagement starts on your mobile phone or personal computer and evolves over time into real connections and relationships. Take the time to connect with others and see what develops and where you will go engaging with a whole new community.

Image credit to J. Morgan Marketing


Keith McIlvaine is the author of the HR farmer