Last week was the UK’s first recruitment unconference and it was certainly an interesting event. I was working the Social Media Track with @mattalder and @carveconsulting. Anyone who knows Matt and Paul will know how knowledgeable both are when it comes to social media; I cannot tell you how much I learned from them throughout the day!
Matt and Paul know all about using social media in business but me, I don’t know anything much about that really. I work in the construction industry and, as emaciated as the industry is, you don’t find that many candidates or clients from my little niche working the social networks. I use social media for me; my personal development and networking. I don’t know anything much about posting jobs, using boolean searches for finding candidates on LinkedIn, or monitoring my company’s brand because that’s not how I use it, so I didn’t feel as though I had an awful lot to contribute on that front. I’m more about personal branding and interaction, so I was a little sad that everyone was more interested in the corporate stuff. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised though really; these are tough times for recruiters and social media is a fairly new tool for a lot of people. Me, I’m a bit of a geek – I’ve been making friends and networking online since my mid-teens and the days of ICQ, IRC and forums.
Social media for personal use is something we all need to be aware of and work smarter at though. The benefits are endless but the two major ones are, in my opinion, personal development and networking.
We all have different work ethics, operate in different industries and have different training. Sharing our experiences and opinions, be it through blogs, tweets, emails or in person, is enlightening! We can learn something from everyone in our network and I think the unconference really highlighted that: There were all sorts of unique ways that companies and individuals were using social media, all sorts of tools that people were using to monitor their brand, and a variety of positive and negative experiences that people had had which we could all learn something from. I’m not going to list them all here; go to the next unconference in February and see for yourself! I didn’t get to visit any other tracks (apart from the secret track at the end!) but I still came away with a couple pages of notes, so I can only imagine what those who had a chance to move about learned!
I worked mostly in customer service and HR before moving into recruitment so, frankly, I don’t know an awful lot of people in the industry. I say “don’t” but I actually mean “didn’t” because social media (Twitter in particular) has totally changed that for me over the last nine months or so. There are some amazing people out there that you can talk to and Twitter is an amazing way to interact with people you might never meet or give a second glance to in real life. And these people can not only help you find useful tools, be your sounding board, provide services, or introduce you to relevant people; they can also become your friends.
My experiences of social media are nearly all positive. In fact, there’s very little negative I can think of in nearly 15 years of messing about with it in various formats. The kindness of strangers is an inspiring and thought provoking thing. Countless people who owe me nothing have helped me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and I am a better and wiser person for it. It may seem a daunting and unfamiliar place to those new to it, but give it the chance it deserves! Immerse yourself in it, interact with people, share your opinions, offer help and advice. To me, it’s not all about business. My favourite contacts aren’t those who constantly talk about business or forward links, but are those who share little titbits about their lives and let their personalities shine through. So even if you’re mostly using social media for business, consider the personal benefits too and do a bit of work on your personal brand. You won’t regret it!