Wednesday 1 July 2009

Does blogging support or hinder conference attendance?


    I’ve been tracking commentary (via blogs and twitter etc) on three different conferences recently – the Social Recruiting summit at the Googleplex, Enterprise 2.0 in and SHRM annual conference in New Orleans.  All have been easy and interesting to follow, although this  is still a long way from being anything like the experience you can get from physical attendance.

I can also image that this much social communication must add value to the attendees who are using these tools.  I have to imagine as I’ve not yet attended one where the tools are being used extensively – I usually end up being the sole person tweeting or blogging, which I still find helpful to me, and I hope others do too, but it is obviously a much more solitary experience.

In fact, if I were to want to attend any of these conferences next year, I would probably do so in order to meet and network with these other bloggers and tweeters, rather than for anything on the formal agenda of these events.

But am I (and probably you, as a reader of this blog) in a minority here?

What about the non-social media user attending theses events?  (This probably applies more to the SHRM conference than the other two where most attendees are going to the conference because of their interests in social media.) 

The good news is that heavy social media reporting is going to encourage these people to start using the tools.  (It’s encouraging that the SHRM conference post on the ‘HR Bloggers’ session, Who Are These People and Why Should I Care?, is one of the most popular, but then again this is based upon a population of people who are already reading a blog).

The danger is I guess that even though these people are only going to see or know about a small fraction of the conversation going on on-line (blogs, tweets, SHRM Connect etc), this may be enough to make them feel part of the ‘out-crowd’, making them feel less welcome.

Is the heavy focus on media one reason why attendance at the SHRM conference has dropped 4000 people from 2008?

And how do we balance our need to connect and build relationships with people using these tools, while not excluding those who don’t?

What do you think?



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  1. Jon, I appreciate your thoughtful comments. As one of the 15 or so bloggers representing at SHRM, I definitely felt lucky and privileged to be there. Like you, I did also receive the benefit of tracking my attendance to events and sessions so I personally have a diary of my time there and hope that my tweets were helpful to those who could not go.

    You pose a wonderful question about how to not exclude those who do not use these tools. There definitely does seem to be a fear of the individuals being too open or "out there" and their companies are still scrambling to have social media policies and action plans in place. I am quite sure that many of the HR practitioners who utilize Cool Works for their job postings are not reading my blog. I sure wish that they would, but being on that front line can take all of the energy one has so asking them to spend time reading blogs probably is not going to happen. I can only hope that our messages get out eventually and the bulk of attendees will jump on the bandwagon...some day.


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