Broad-Seeding, Dilution and the business I am in

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I am not in the recruiting or HR business. This might surprise you but it’s true. I am in the business of marketing to niche professionals. And while I’ve learned quite a lot along the way, one would never compare me to a Trish McFarlane, Laurie Ruettimann, Eric Winegardner or Kris Dunn. I am a marketing professional. Whether I am appealing to recruiters, investment professionals, or Albanian missionary supporters, the process remains remarkably similar. It’s the approach that changes with the industry.

That being said, I care about the recruiting and HR industries because I believe what they do is really important. My career has always been important to me, even when I worked side jobs as a stay at home mom, there was always an element of figuring out how this small opportunity could turn into a big career move. Recruiting and HR Professionals assist those who already have that bent built into the fabric of their personalities and steer or convince those who have the talent but maybe due to internal makeup or life circumstances, aren’t so driven. It’s important work.

I’ve been in the industry maybe three years so feel free to take what I say with a grain of salt here. When I began seeing the plethora of webinars, conferences, unconferences, communities, websites, blogs, etc, I really started to get worried that the waters were getting muddied. After all, even the recruiters were complaining of conference burnout (a term I have yet to understand, apparently it happens to some people). I thought, this is DILUTING the market! There will for sure be a backlash and the good will go down with the bad. I watched with trepidation as more and more companies threw their hats into the ring, some with lofty internal motivations, some who seemed interested in making a quick buck, some that appeared out of nowhere. And I worried.

Then I went to RecruitCamp. RecruitCamp is an unconference franchise organized by industry veteran Rob Humphrey, now with LinkedIn. Humphrey heard about what Jason had started with RecruitFest! in Toronto and wanted to help. He ran a super successful event in November and even though RecruitingBlogs couldn’t attend, he sought us out this year for another event that took place last week. I personally partnered with Rob to promote the event, helped with speaker lineups and attended. I couldn’t have been more proud. It changed my mind and turned my worries into something entirely different. Encouragement. Here’s why:

1) I knew four people. Now I go to a lot of conferences and unconferences and manage communities totaling 160,000 recruiters and HR Pros. I know some people. But this was a sold out event, in a regional target market, where I knew almost NO ONE! I spend so much time trying to make sure that I touch the “movers and shakers” in our space that I forgot about all the lurkers and people we have yet to make an impact on. Trust me, there are a lot of them. Shame on me.

2) We’re doing it! Every day I see a lot of posts about Social Recruiting. I get exhausted by the concept to be perfectly honest. But guess what? There’s still a LOT to suss out here. Social recruiting is changing every day because the tools are changing every day. Marketing mistake NUMERO UNO: Don’t assume that your needs and the needs of your target market are exactly the same. At RecruitCamp, I saw Deloitte NZ get a SOCRA award for a campaign that was truly groundbreaking. Richard Long flew halfway around the world to be there and was excited his campaign had attracted OUR attention. How humbling. People all over the world are taking the precepts we teach and dive into day in and day out (not just on recruitingblogs but as a larger recruiting and HR community) and making them work in their companies. That’s exciting and gives me new inspiration. Revolutions don’t happen overnight.

3) Buzz means little. It does and as a marketing pro, I imagine a lot of people will scream “sacrilege” and run from the building. I don’t care. While I love the “high” I get interacting with my online friends, fans, followers, community members and whatnot–buzz created means little. It doesn’t make your conference more educational, it can’t magically make your product better, it doesn’t create instant customer service or increase revenue unless you have the processes in place to BACK IT UP. This is important! People talking about you, your company or your event is priceless but it’s not the only metric by which to determine its (or your) worth.

4) There’s enough room for all of us. Before, during and after RecruitCamp, I talked with so many smart professionals who are doing their own thing. Sometimes that means creating a community, other times it means trying their hand at a tweetup or building a new product that makes sense for the way they recruit. Where I used to see it as dilution, now I see it as broad-seeding. Broadseeding is basically the practice of spreading seed in a broad motion across an expanse of ground so that every possible area gets its opportunity to grow. Some seeds will get choked off by weeds, others will get pecked away by birds, still more will fall on ground that’s rocky and resistant to change. But some will fall on ground that’s ready and will be nurtured as it grows and thrives. (sound familiar anyone?)

I like to say that I am frequently accused of idealism. But truthfully, the accusations come from inside my head. I believe that the information upheaval our industry (and let’s not be superior LOTS of other industries too) is going through is going to be a good thing. I am committed to providing fertile ground where I can and to partnering with those who want to spread the seed.

That’s what she said.

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