I’ve just wrapped up what is essentially 7 weeks on the road. While the 7 weeks wasn’t constant travel (I was home ~2-3 days a week) it certainly began to push the limits of my working rhythm. Of course, for those of you that travel considerably, you know the rhythm of which I’m referencing. Moving scheduled calls to unreal hours of the morning, answering emails in between learning sessions, catching up on most issues while in-flight and taking the urgent calls as they come in with the rest of your calls landing whenever you can grab a connection and a coffee. I’ve got it down to almost a science… until I hit the 7 week mark, that is.
Why the 7 week mark was an issue, I’m unsure. Perhaps it’s because mentally I knew that week 7 was the last week and as a result it just seemed tougher to make sure I was meeting all of my commitments. Maybe it was just fatigue setting in. Heck, it might even be that there was so much to take away from the conferences/events (nearly a dozen – more than I’ve ever seen in recruiting in one season!) that I subconsciously knew that I needed to hit pause and create a “download” for my team so that we could review everything observed and learned before trying to take anything else in! My guess is that it’s a little of each of the above.
So as I begin to digest all of the events and meetings and conferences, I’m reminded of a topic of conversation that I’ve had several times over the last two months that results from the following question from attendees, speakers and leaders alike:
“What did you learn from the session?”
My honest answer is that I did in fact learn something from every single session I attended. But in being transparent, I have to share that my takeaway wasn’t always delivered by the speakers or the hosts. In fact, more often than not I was learning more from the audience and attendees than I was the presenters. That’s right – learning more from my mic-less peers sitting to my left and right.
For years I’ve said that the best ideas and breakthroughs at recruiting industry events tend to happen after the sessions are over and when essentially everyone gets a microphone with whomever they’d like to connect. The social events or dinners that happen after the podiums are abandoned are where attendees open up and where speakers can go deep on topics they may have been forced to gloss over in just 45 minutes on stage. So for me, events have always been about the conversation more than the sessions. However, in the last 2 years I’ve really learned that there is more to pull from the sessions than I previously realized – even (or especially) the sessions that go poorly.
Many times there’s significant value in simply listening to the questions that are being asked by the audience – both in how they’re asked and how they’re answered. It’s a nice gauge by which we can take measure in regards to where we are as an industry focused on talent that MUST move forward. (Did you catch that? TALENT ACQUISITION. MUST. MOVE. FORWARD.) For instance, listening to what companies are still scared of video interviewing because of “discrimination” or what sized organizations are still asking for help to get Facebook unlocked for recruiting, speaks volumes about the learning and adoption curve still to be addressed in 2012. Hearing ‘cutting edge’ companies predict for 2020 tools that some organizations use as a recruiting staple today allows us to look around the room at the puzzled faces of our peers (or watch the outcry in the back channel conversations) and connect with them immediately after the speech.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing up summaries of some of the events I attended with my thoughts on ‘SoLoMo’, Candidate Experience Awards, LinkedIn announcements, “make interns your recruiters”, recruiting personalities of the year and other nuggets that are, in my humble but correct opinion, worth discussing. Before crafting those summaries however, I
wanted needed to hit pause after pouring through 7 weeks of notes to call out my largest collective observation of the season:
The major win from recruiting & talent events is still in the conversation, but I believe there may be even more significant measure to be found via observation.