As fall acquieces to the promise of snowflakes and bone-chilling temperatures in Minnesota, I’ve been contemplating the almost surreal experience that I label as the last few months of my life. In addition to my #TrenchHR work, I am back in school (I suffer an incurable disease for learning), and I continue my journey deeper into the world of social media and blogging. Some think I’m crazy, but in my mind these new experiences are complimentary; perhaps together they will result in real understanding. It takes effort to grow.
Out of the Cave
During my first telephone conversation with Lisa Rosendahl, my #ProjectSocial mentor and partner, I confessed that I had been living my professional life in a cave. My leap – or perhaps more accurately described as a limp – into the world of Twitter and blogging has helped me to learn a few things about my own biases, many of which have been holding me back:
• I had been avoiding the HR network largely because there are many things about our profession (and yes, some good people in our profession) that drive me crazy – I elected to go the course alone (e.g., I have never been to a HR conference
• With a little effort in social media, I quickly learned that there are some very progressive and highly intelligent HR people living outside of my cave, and they were relatively easy to locate and engage
• There is a cadre of like-minded professionals who are interested and active in changing the practice and profession of HR, and
• My opportunity to contribute to the dialogue was a simple as my willingness to engage others, whether through the power of the social media space, or more traditionally.
In the abstract, the thought of publishing my opinions and rants on a blog was exciting. While I have no shortage of ideas about what to write, I have found that how I write is the more challenging proposition. For example, trying to keep my thoughts under 750 words is painful; under 140 characters is an art. On the other side of this public discourse equation was the realization that there were actually other people out there reading what I had been writing, and some of them might be compelled to respond.
As the concept of being professionally social transcended into reality, I experienced a moment or two of anxiety. In this virtual space, I was leading with my thoughts and ideas, and not my title, my position, or my credentials. I discovered that where I had been, and what I had done was not relevant compared to what I think or what I have to offer. It’s a sobering epiphany; to realize that my desire to share my professional experiences is not an end, but rather a foundation for what I hope to contribute. While all of this does come with some personal and professional risk, it is also the opportunity to contribute to something that is more meaningful than self promotion The People
One of the first people I followed on Twitter was Charlie Judy (@HRFishbowl); his was also one of the first HR blogs that I read regularly. I connected with his message about the need to put people back at the center of our strategic HR journey; his writing also has an edge that speaks of passion. He had obviously thought more deeply about this than I, and he articulated what I had felt for the last few years far better than I could have.
The real value to all of these experiments isn’t what I may or may not produce (or how I might brand myself), but rather the relationships that I am developing with real people along the way. If I turn some attention to the number of HR professionals who continue to dismiss the concept of social media for themselves and their organizations, I have this to say: Social media isn’t simply a strategy or new means for communicating the same old messages. Being social in today’s environment is about the ability to develop new relationships without the inconvenience of artificial barriers, such as geography and position
If you’re interested, but don’t know how, then please sign up for #ProjectSocial (Ben Eubanks, Victorio Milian) and allow another HR pro the opportunity to help you learn. At a minimum, you’ll run the risk of developing a new relationship with someone you otherwise would never have known.