The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Twitter’ Category

networking

Networks are funny things, aren’t they? So often people bemoan networking and how hard it is to forge a connection with people, whether that is on a personal or a professional level. Too often there is a cynicism of wondering what someone else may want from you, or the fear of finding yourself stuck with someone who can’t resist giving you a hard sell for their products, or simply not finding the other person of interest. Too often all those potential pitfalls are genuinely the reality.

I’ve learnt a few things about networks over the past couple of weeks. Firstly, that you should build one when you don’t think you really need it and instead spend time figuring out how to contribute to others in your circle that could benefit from any expertise, support or help you can offer, however small and insignificant it may seem to you. The chances are, it won’t feel that way to whoever is on the receiving end.

Secondly, social media can be an amazing place to forge connections with people. Sure, you have to engage and be yourself, be inquisitive and share experiences, but when it works, it is so powerful. The HR and professional networks I have made through Twitter have formed into strong friendship in many cases and unstinting, consistent, solid support in countless others. ConnectingHR really did transform my professional network and continues to do so and boy, am I grateful!

The third thing I’ve learnt about networks? When you have a good one and when you need it, it’s amazing. Thank you to all of those people in mine who have been extraordinarily generous with their time, resources, contacts, offers of help and thoughts. It is hugely appreciated.

My blogging hiatus is over….as of today, I am back in the game!

 

The first time I heard of ConnectingHR was as a hashtag on Twitter. At that point, I didn’t even know what a hashtag was, far less how to use one or what ConnectingHR involved. What did become clear though, over the next few days and weeks, was that this is a collection of HR  (and some non-HR!) people who engage with each other on Twitter and other social sites, meet up regularly in person, reach out to and welcome newcomers and are not only adept at understanding the power and possibilities of social media, but incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The first time I met anyone from ConnectingHR was at the first unconference. Faces became familiar, friendships were formed, my concept of networking and HR conferences was transformed and a journey began which led to me starting this blog the very next day. In the 18 months since then, the community of ConnectingHR has grown and evolved and the unconferences and tweet-ups continue to be a brilliant way of getting to know people and starting to understand a little more about how social media can impact and influence HR and business as a whole. It’s also worth noting that most mainstream conferences which talk about social media in HR invariably include individuals from ConnectingHR as speakers, panelists and presenters…and most are rather more pricey than the actual ConnectingHR unconferences ;).

The next ConnectingHR unconference takes place on 16th May 2012 and you can buy a ticket here. Even better, if you are new to all this and haven’t been to an unconference before, I have a free ticket to give away on my blog. Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and I will choose a winner at random on Friday 27th April. Yep, it really is that easy…I’m nice like that.

For those that like a little more detail, the theme for the unconference is: The Power of a Socially Engaged Organisation and there are some fantastic and knowledgeable conversation leaders attending, addressing topics such as –

  • How can organisations embrace social media/strategies internally to increase engagement?
  • What are the positive benefits and opportunities of embracing social and community strategies in organisations?
  • What tools are there to help increase collaboration and conversation in organisations?
  • Can a more social business create commercial value and increase engagement?
  • What alternatives are there to the traditional employee survey?

If you are looking for an event where you can met some great people, interact, engage, challenge, debate and learn, then look no further…book your ticket for ConnectingHR today or see if you can win a free one on here.

Really…what are you waiting for?!

 

So, last month last year, I ran a series of guest posts on the theme of 2011 Highlights and Horrors, which formed an Advent Calendar of blogs. A New Year should undoubtedly be more about looking forward, rather than harking back to what has been…and yet there have been many powerful points of learning for me in the experience of facilitating this experiment, that will influence how I move forward in 2012.

These then are my learnings and my own inspirations from your fantastic contribution of blogs:

Experimentation can result in amazing and unforseen consequences. Approaching tasks differently is immensely powerful and is something I want to do a lot more of, not only in blogging, but also in professional and personal spheres. Making suggestions without fear of failure, trying new ideas without concern for what might go wrong and giving the benefit of the doubt to the best possible outcome can undoubtedly transform everyday thinking and decision processes. That the entire advent calendar series evolved from a single tweet in (very!) late November, asking if anyone would be willing to contribute a guest post, is testament to the power of Twitter and also the wonderful creative force that collaboration can bring.

Openess leads to opportunity. With only a handful of exceptions, I did not ask anyone directly to contribute a guest post; it was truly crowd-sourced and available to anyone who wished to participate. Whilst it felt daunting in the very early days of December to have only a day or two of posts in advance, it undoubtedly led to a richer and more diverse end result. Some of the people who contributed were new connections who I came to know as a result of the experiment; others, like my sister-in-law, I have known for many years.

Collaboration. Asking people for help and inviting them to contribute is a powerful action. Allowing and enabling them to be a part of and influence the end result, undoubtedly enhanced the overall achievement. Together, we become more than the sum of our parts and I’d definitely like to do more of this type of collaboration not only on the blog, but also at work and at home, where asking for help can seem more problematic and difficult…perhaps I am simply more set in my ways in those contexts…;)

Consistency of delivery. It was a great feeling as the month progressed that people started to share links to posts before I had tweeted them. It was very important to me that the posts were similar to an advent calendar, in that they were available to consume and enjoy from early morning onwards. And, now that I have found the scheduling button on my blog, I shall be using it more frequently…which can only be a good thing for ongoing quality control :).

The guest posts themselves were varied, diverse and I genuinely enjoyed reading and publishing every single one of them. I am particularly proud that over a quarter of the posts were written by individuals who had never blogged before and felt inspired to share their highs and lows of 2011. To me, that made the experiment extra special and worthwhile.

In terms of the measurables, my blog had its busiest month ever in December, with 3,962 views, more than double my previous monthly record. Below are the ten most read posts of the month, as of 30th December 2011 – impressive again how many new bloggers are in this list.

Title Views
Day 12: Reflections of an HRD More stats 290
Day 13: An Emotional Rollercoaster More stats 192
Day 15: Failure, Courage and Happy Endings More stats 168
Day 21: A Christmas Carol Concert More stats 165
Day 8: Merry Christmas…A Hindu Perspective More stats 140
Day 6: Sinead Carville’s Highlights and Horrors of 2011 More stats 123
Day 10: All Change Please More stats 122
Day 19: It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money… More stats 119
2011 Highlights and Horrors: Guest Post from Kate Griffiths-Lambeth More stats 118
Day 7: Hopes and Fears More stats 104
Day 14: Breakthrough More stats 104

Hosting so many wonderful guest posts has inspired me to keep writing…not necessarily more frequently (daily posting is hard work!) but to grow this blog in terms of high-quality, thought-provoking posts. At the end of 2010, I resolved to blog more and better…I suspect that 2012 may be the year of blogging slightly less and yet better still…continuous improvement is certainly my aim ;).

I have had a huge amount of positive feedback on the Advent blogs, which I have appreciated hugely. Thanks so much for your part in making it a success!

So, my Twitter training has taken a bit of a different form than anticipated, as the planned board meeting was rescheduled. However, the result of this has been that I have spent more time doing impromptu sessions to small groups and one-to-one coaching of my exec colleagues. It’s been an interesting experience and one that I’ve learnt a lot from so far already.

My main learnings are as follows –

  • Having a co-sponsor for training sessions is brilliant: someone who is not from the same background as you, who ‘gets’ Twitter but uses it differently. This was enormously helpful when coaching two of the exec team who were particularly cynical about its value
  • Think carefully about the language you use to convey the potential gain for those that you are coaching. They clearly won’t be interested in building an HR network, but they will take note of the fact that they can access opinion pieces and be ahead of the news
  • Show them how to use it on whichever medium they are most likely to regularly use…for most of my coachees on their blackberry or Iphone
  • Think about how to show individuals what is meaningful to them – hashtags that will be of interest for them to check out, how the business you work in or its competitors is already using Twitter, how it can build engagement between key groups
  • Tweet questions to your followers so that you can demonstrate the interactive nature of Twitter
  • Don’t over-hype or over-sell its value – it’s the quickest way to lose credibility
  • Accept that it isn’t everyone’s chosen method of communicating, but that most people will find some gain from using it…or at least from understanding it better
  • Expect unexpected questions – I was surprised that some of the questions centred more around how number of followers build up, rather than the mechanics of how Twitter works
  • Remember that Twitter can be overwhelming, noisy and confusing at first for new users
  • Follow up to find out if there is anything more they would like to know
  • Even when individuals appear to be quite proficient at using Twitter, they are often keen to find out more and learn by asking questions

I’m going to be rolling out more training soon: to the rest of the exec team, to the global HR team and then to the rest of the business. The great thing is that I’m learning more each time I do it and am really enjoying it ;).

 What have I forgotten? I’d love to hear about your experience of teaching Twitter to others too.

So, we all know that changes in behaviour are driven from the top, right? It’s been fascinating to see some real life examples of how a CEO becoming more social and actively tweeting can influence an organisation and encourage others to do the same.

My boss and CEO (@lindseyroberts1) was the person who originally suggested I set myself up on Twitter. Recently she’s been tweeting more,  encouraging other senior managers to get involved with Twitter and doing some simple but effective things like putting her Twitter handle on her email signature. And as more people within the organisation start to tweet, the greater the sense of engagement and cohesion – it’s a quiet but powerful step change in how we communicate and interact.

On Tuesday, I deliver my first Twitter training session to the Board. I’m looking forward to it, although don’t doubt that it will be a tough audience. But slowly and surely, it feels like a step change in our organisation is starting to happen…and that is fantastic to be a part of.

I’d love to know what your organisation is like and whether your CEO is becoming social…its certainly a powerful force to be reckoned with!

 

I have acquired a bit of a taste for experimenting recently and have set up a new Twitter account and blog that are entirely separate to my usual professional/personal Twitter handle of @AlisonChisnell and this HRJuggler blog. The subject matter is so separate that it really didn’t make any sense to combine them and there is very little cross-over in terms of individuals I follow or followers…the sum total of two people, in fact!

It has been fascinating to do and I wanted to share some of what I am learning here.

  • Starting over on Twitter is hard, even if you do know what you are doing…trying to tap into hashtags that group the information that you are interested in takes some investment in terms of time and effort
  • Not all topics have a ready built community.
  • Networks and engagement take time to build. It is relatively easy to find people who tweet out links of useful stuff, but far harder to identify people who are genuinely interesting, interested and keen to engage in conversation
  • Following is easy, encouraging people to follow back is sometimes trickier. If after a couple of attempts to engage in conversation, they don’t respond or follow back, then their content has to be really good for me to continue following. This has made me also re-evaluate how often I follow back on my main account and resolve to do so on the first contact.
  • Blogging is the same process, whether or not anyone reads what you write. When a post on the new blog attracts more than a handful of readers and any comments, I am genuinely delighted.  It makes me more appreciative and reminds me how far this blog has come
  • The experience you have in using Twitter is pretty much defined by the calibre of people you follow and those that follow you. The former generates interesting and thought-provoking content for your timeline, the latter is predominantly where engagement and interaction lies.
  • In order to keep improving my new user experience, I have been open-minded and proactive about who I follow, and also reasonably disciplined in unfollowing those whose tweets are not of interest to me, are overwhelming in volume or simply annoying
  • No surprise, the best source of new tweeps to follow comes from looking at the ‘following’ lists of the people who I enjoy following.

So, it has been and continues to be an interesting experience and one that I would recommend to anyone, not least because it helps to contextualise why many people are initially wary or unconvinced about using Twitter. And it is very good practice to go back to the beginning and start over…and see what else you learn!

Have you started over lately? I’d love to hear from you.


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