The HR Juggler

Posts Tagged ‘Social media

I have made many real and genuine friendships through Twitter and one of the aspects that fascinates me most about it is the human interaction that is constantly ongoing and evolving…as Mervyn Dinnen put it once “the conversation that never sleeps”. Anthony Allinson pointed out to me recently that if you watch carefully, you can see themes and stories emerge, snapshots of people’s everyday lives…new jobs, changing careers, friendships forming, romances blossoming or fading, new adventures and personal challenges, a whole range of emotions about a huge variety of different experiences. It is a wonderful form of people watching and a privilege to have a limited insight into the lives of others. Sometimes, we get to know each other better than we realise in short bursts of 140 characters…;)

Some of the stories I have loved hearing about recently are as follows –

  • Doug’s big US adventure. Following the tweets from his conference speech in Ohio was fantastic and to know that he has secured another speaking engagement in Louisiana in April 2013 is a brilliant outcome and well deserved success
  • The work that is being undertaken by the project management community at ThomsonReuters and the truly innovative approach they have taken to invite individuals from all different types of organisations and competitors to contribute to something meaningful that is bigger than the sum of its parts. Big corporations looking outward rather than inward is a refreshing change indeed…more power to Anthony, Diane and the team
  • Sukh’s new business venture, setting himself up as Challenging Frontiers
  • Some people can be conspicuous by their absence and Flora’s holiday and temporary radio silence and the reasons for it made me appreciate her all the more on her return

My own recent Twitter story is reaching the end of its Part One on Sunday when I run my first ever half-marathon in aid of Tommy’s. Thank you so much for all your support…I will let you know how I get on!

What do you love about Twitter? What stories have caught your attention recently? I’d love to know.

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?!


This post is a bit extra-special for me, written as it is by the lovely Mervyn Dinnen. Encouraging, supportive, sociable and kind; until very recently Mervyn’s blog was the largest referer of web traffic to my blog, second only to Twitter and related applications. That perhaps provides some measure of the unstinting and vocal support he has always provided to me and others and for that I remain hugely appreciative.
I wholeheartedly recommend that you connect with Mervyn on Twitter (@MervynDinnen) and via his TRecs blog.
I entered 2011 with a mix of trepidation, concern and optimism. The business in which I had been working closed down at the end 2010, leaving me to job hunt at a time when jobs seemed in short supply.

Over the Xmas and New Year period I took the decision to embark on a social job hunt. It made sense to combine my growing interest (nay, obsession!) and belief in social media as the way to communicate with my years of recruiting experience…but the question would be, was anyone in the recruitment industry ready to take on someone to do a social media role?

I’m sure that most readers know that the quest was successful. The third party recruitment industry seemed uninterested in the possibilities offered by a social media person who knew about recruiting and could talk to clients and jobseekers…but Jobsite UK were!

And so my highlight of the year wasn’t just a new job, but a career change and an opportunity to create my own future in a developing area that opens many possibilities.

And it showed me that if you want to make a change then you really do need to have faith in your abilities.

I was very lucky and hope that the various friends of mine who are entering 2012 looking for new roles are as lucky too.

I also feel extremely lucky to have health, family and friends…something I had time to reflect on during my lowest point(s) of 2011.

Unfortunately these came when I attended not one but two funerals of friends. Both were women, both had sudden illnesses and were gone far too soon at ages when they should still be here to see their families grow into full adults. It wasn’t only these friends…I wrote a blog earlier this year – The Precariousness of Life – in which I told if the tragic passing of a young colleague and my sadness

If there’s one thing these events have taught me it is to cherish the time you spend with family and friends…it’s precious.

Many thanks to Alison for letting me post on her blog – a Merry and Joyous Christmas and a Healthy and Happy 2012 to all readers 🙂


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.

So, anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I’m a big fan of ConnectingHR and hugely enjoy being a part of what they do. Without ConnectingHR I would not be the avid Twitter and social media fan that I now am, and nor would I be a keen blogger.

Quite simply, ConnectingHR is a fantastic and energised group of HR people – generalist practitioners, recruiters, consultants, communication experts, learning and development folk and many, many more –  who connect on Twitter under #connectinghr and who interact and chat over at the website. Once a quarter there is also a bigger event for people to meet up, outside of the usual informal drinks and get-togethers – either a networking evening (known as a tweet-up) or a day’s long Unconference.

I’m not usually prone to gushing, but genuinely I have never come across a group of HR people more willing to provide help and support, genuinely interesting and interested, vocal and articulate, inclusive and thought-provoking. Seriously, they are great – we are great.

Why do I tell you all of this now? Well, the third ConnectingHR Unconference is taking place on the 20th October and now is the time to get your skates on and book your place. It’s very easy to do, just register here. Excitingly, I also have the opportunity to give away a free ticket to the Unconference and all you need to do to apply is to submit a comment at the end of this post by Friday 7th Oct and tell me why you want to come and what you hope you will get out of it. The only rules (of course there are rules, I work in HR!) are that you should be an HR practitioner who hasn’t attended an Unconference before. Oh, and I might ask you for some blog comments once you’ve been :).

So, that’s it. I have always highly disliked the traditional concept of networking, but the lovely thing about ConnectingHR is that you will find yourself amongst friends…and it really is a form of networking that totally works.

What are you waiting for? Who wants a free ticket? Go on…make my day…. 😉

Vanity…that’s something that we all have a bit of really, isn’t it? Although it has to be said that we don’t like talking about it much. Would I carry on blogging if no-one ever read it, gave me feedback or commented? Probably not. Whilst I don’t blog for others per se and I genuinely gain a lot from it, it would also be disingenuous to claim that I write entirely for myself…if that were the case then why would I publish anything? Surely a private log would be just as effective in terms of articulating my thoughts.

Social media has a plethora of opportunities for individuals to feed their vanity…klout scores, follower numbers, blog subscribers, page views…all of which we make our personal decisions about, in terms of which, if any of them, are important to us. 

I have been pondering the vanity question for a while and whether it matters that there is undoubtedly an element of this to most social media interaction. For me, provided I am aware of this aspect of it and honest with myself about it, then that’s fine. At the end of the day, humans respond to recognition and praise, feedback and interaction and always have done, regardless of what form it takes.

So for now, with some caution and self-awareness and in small doses, I am embracing my social vanity…how about you?

Friends and colleagues are often surprised that I am a Twitter regular and that I have my own blog. After all, I already have a “proper job” and am pretty well established professionally, so what do I get out of it?

The simple and honest answer is that you get out what you put in. But for people who are not familiar with social media and the connectedness that it can bring, this doesn’t seem to sate their curiosity or adequately answer the unspoken questions. So, bearing in mind that I am a reasonably average HR professional with a busy job, this is what I have gained over the last year through regular tweeting, blogging and attending two unconferences.

  • I have talked about networking and professional connections before.  What takes a little more time and patience to articulate though, is the high conversion rates of professional connections to real and genuine friends. From a glance through my timeline and ‘followers’ I would say I have made at least 30 friends this year, people who I meet up with to have lunch, a coffee or drinks and whose brains I pick on a regular basis, either online or in person.
  • In addition to the people I consider to be friends, I also have a wealth of professional contacts who are hugely helpful and knowledgeable. Some of them will undoubtedly become friends over the next year
  • There is a real sense of connectedness with what is current through interacting on social media. Whether its keeping up with the latest HR developments, legal updates, live streams from conferences, opinions, news, politics or current affairs, i am more up-to-date than I ever have been and the tools of social media provide an invaluable, instantaneous global perspective
  • I haven’t made my first Twitter hire…yet! I have been sufficiently impressed with the quality of candidates that have come through Twitter referrals that I have taken a couple of candidates through to second interview stage and made an offer to one of them. So, I truly believe that this is only a matter of time. The response I got from tweeting about a requirement for an HR interim was extraordinary and I will definitely recruit this way should I need one again.
  • Free advice and consultancy…in abundance. Never have I met a group of people so willing to share their knowledge and help others – social has a sharing effect on people

Those are the main tangible outputs, although it only really scratches the surface of what can be gained professionally from social media.  And of course social media is just a tool and in time there will be new things to get excited about and explore. The point for me is that it is always about people, about connecting and giving as much as you get to make those professional and personal relationships as effective as they can be. We’d be daft to pretend that social media is the answer to everything…but equally, I firmly behave that HR professionals are missing a trick if they don’t seek to understand what you can get out of it, and even more importantly, what you can put back in ;).

What are the tangible benefits that you have experienced through social media…has it done much for you lately?

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