Main image of article SHRM12: Think and Be Social with Meghan M. Biro

It’s been a few weeks since I returned from the Society for Human Resource Management 2012 Annual Conference (#SHRM12) in Atlanta. I wanted some time to pass by for reflection before blogging about it. Frankly, I want the excitement about what we as an HR community accomplished to extend well beyond the few weeks of "afterglow" at a conference. Often, a few weeks later after a large event we get into the hustle bustle of life and forget that it's important to keep our social behaviors and connections with people all year long. There were many hits from Atlanta as I look back on my time there. Fortunately, we missed the insane weather that has paralyzed most of the Middle Atlantic and parts of the South (although there is definitely a reason they call it HOTlanta) I went to the event to meet the smart folks I call my friends and colleagues in HR and leadership, people who understand the important links between HR, HR technology, social media and employee engagement. There are my fellow friends and colleagues "in the trenches" of HR and Recruitment every day trying to make it happen. This is where talent lives and breathes. As someone who spends a great deal of my time "online" spending “IRL” time with my friends and colleagues stills holds a lot of value for me. This is truly where relationships deepen and I'm reminded of this at live events. Who knew there would be 13,000 + HR and leadership professionals in attendance? It was a unique experience. Although most of us came from the US there was a healthy sprinkling of international attendees. I was glad to see this. We are global after all. SHRM really knows about the value of star power, too. Keynotes from Dr. Condoleeza Rice, Malcolm Gladwell, Jim Collins and Tom Brokaw were surprisingly relevant. Most important, however, was the overwhelming sense I got from everyone I met - in sessions and in talks with colleagues - that HR today must be a social endeavor. Certainly SHRM got the memo. This is the first year the conference offered a blogger lounge where my fellow bloggers and I spent a lot of time talking, Tweeting and blogging the event, as well as in The Hive, an educational space where folks could go for a social-tech tune-up. I enjoyed playing social media coach for people stopping by The Hive. This proved to be a very fun hands-on experience for all. As an invited blogger I had my choice of sessions, and took the opportunity to investigate a few new HR tech offerings from the hundreds available on the exposition floor.  Some were geared for HR pros on the bunny slope of social recruiting. Others were game-like, appealing to the competitive streak in most recruiters, with functionality that enables one measure social recruiting efforts against those of competitors. A number of offerings focused on the need to establish a social conversation with prospects and employees. Community was the conference’s by-word, and yes, it’s about time. We’ve been talking about the value of community for what feels like a looong time at TalentCulture (@TalentCulture) and #TChat World of Work. I’m happy to report the message has been heard, loud and clear, and useful tools are out there to make HR’s job easier – and hopefully to get more people back to work faster. After all, that’s the payoff for most of us – linking people with skills and companies with needs. I came away from SHRM with newfound respect for Now in its 21st year, Dice (@EmployersonDice) is still a leading force in the career site market for technical talent, as well as an early adopter of social technologies. Dice figured out how to create technical communities of interest long before most brands and employers became aware of the power of social community. So here’s a shout out to Dice for still innovating, they are not only a powerful job search tool for techies, but also a social tech community of employers, recruiters, prospective employees and HR practitioners. The 2012 SHRM conference also renewed my faith in the process of HR, reinforced my belief that all recruiting is social and provided a proof point: companies serving HR pros, recruiters and job seekers are listening. For a long time I was unclear if my messages were being heard in the blogosphere. Maybe some leadership magic will happen and unemployment will dip below 8 percent in 2012 (though we learned from Dice SVP Tom Silver during a live panel moderated by @johnsumser from the #DiceLounge, that the tech industry unemployment in Q1 2012 was an average of only 4.4%, according to a recent Dice Trends Report and the almighty Bureau of Labor Statistics). If unemployment doesn’t improve though, it won’t be for lack of trying in the HR industry, or in the world of social recruiting. So go out and build talent communities, focus on talent retention, and think about ways to interject brand values into the HR mix. Think and be social. I hope to be back for SHRM’s 2013 conference and hope to catch up with many more of you then. In the interim, see you on the social channels, HR.  You Rock, Stars.  @MeghanMBiro