Becoming HR

After an exciting book launch weekend, the JBE is off to the Samoset in Rockport for a whirlwind two days at this year’s Maine HR Convention, aka #MEHRC2012 (that’s Twitterspeak). Well, at least that’s the #hashtag that those of us on Twitter came up with based upon past conventions.

The Maine HR Convention is an interesting gathering. This year, more than 800+ HR professionals and ancillary attendees gather for four days of HR-related banter, workshops, and my favorite—A-list speakers. I also appreciate the networking opportunities my two days will afford me.

I’m thinking about social media this year. Maybe because I do stay current and follow some of the HR heavy-hitters, like Laurie Ruettimann (speaking this year), Ryan Estis (spoke in 2010 and 2011, who I met and live-blogged), Kris Dunn and a few others. I’m also a fan of Seth Godin and I’ve been recommending the crap out of his latest book to HR people I know.

There seems to be a disconnect between what gets talked about up on the stage, and what actually gets carried out by Maine’s HR community. This isn’t meant to be a criticism, just an observation by someone that doesn’t occupy the HR suite. Take Twitter for instance. Most of the 800 attendees aren’t on Twitter. The number is certainly larger than back in 2010, when I think there were about three of us using it during the conference—that was a very intimate conversation.

It’s just not Twitter, either. Few HR pros in Maine have a blog. Most are on Facebook (like who isn’t?), a good many use Linkedin (although, there will be a few that are still lost on that front), but there seems to be a general lack of sophistication and strategy in terms of using social media for engagement. Ok, I know we’re Maine and usually behind the curve when it comes to things like technology, but come on—we can do better.

Currently, I’m working with a nonprofit, helping them develop a social media policy that actually allows employees to use social media, instead of risk being fired for tweeting, or posting something positive on Facebook about the organization they work for. The biggest push back I’m getting in crafting an inclusive, workable policy is coming from their HR director.

Once again, I’ll end up sitting at a table with HR professionals after they listen to Laurie Ruettimann do her thing, which will probably mean that she is provocative—I’m afraid that her talk will go right over their heads (just like last year after Ryan Estis rocked the room). If you’re not engaged, how can you in turn, go back to your company or organization and lead the way through the social media forest or bring needed transformation? In fact, how can you model transformation when you haven’t been through a personal one yourself?

Each year, however, a few lights go on. I’ll make a few new contacts that will lead to the beginning of a relationship that will be mutually beneficial. There are progressive HR leaders at the conference; I’ll just need to work harder to find them.

Last year, I bought a couple of books at the conference. One of them was by a Maine consultant on workplace mentoring, and a couple of the others were classic books about business.  Being a writer with books in print, I thought it would be cool to come back and have one of my books on display, even though I don’t write books about HR or business. I do write books about Maine and Moxie, however.

I’m happy to report that this year, my new book will be on display courtesy of Sherman’s Books, who is this year’s conference book vendor.

Looking forward to seeing some of my peeps, meeting new ones, and as always, developing relationships that will lead to possible collaboration in the future.

Oh, and don’t fear the Twitter–embrace it!