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January 14, 2011 / Mervyn Dinnen

Boy in a Bubble

I’ve been living in a social world for the last couple of years or so, it’s a bit like living in a bubble…free from naysayers and doubters.  

A lot of the new connections that I have made have originated from, or because of, social media. Most are business connections, but quite a few are social, in the traditional sense! My social life certainly now encompasses a richer mix of characters and activities (I mean…camping with someone who’s name you don’t even know!) and all of this has helped increase my belief in the power of the medium.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. I started using social media platforms for communicating and it just grew. A lot of the words that we use to describe good social media communicators – enabler, encourager, connector, facilitator, conversationalist, networker – have often been used to describe me at different times in my career.

In truth, I have almost certainly always been like this. I have never been the classic door opening sales person, more of an engager and relationship builder. It has served me well…as you will read elsewhere on this site, I have been a billing recruiter – month on month, year on year – for 20 years, and you can’t really do that unless you can develop long term, trusting, value add relationship.

If I can continue blowing my own trumpet for just a moment, I would say that the social world suits me and plays to my strengths. I enjoy the small talk. And sometimes there’s no obvious ROI on small talk.

Now that I’m on the job market, my modus operandi is more open to scrutiny. How do I build relationships? What relationships can I bring with me? What’s my track record? And…

What do I see in this social media thing?

Ah yes, social media is never far away from the conversation. Clearly, I have set myself on a mission to find a job socially and am really pleased that so far I have had quite a bit of interest without really having applied for anything specific as yet. There is one opportunity that has really exciting possibilities, and which would be quite different to what I have done before, and would be pretty much all social. Whether it will come off I don’t know. It may require too big a leap of faith, or it may just be the right thing at the wrong time. What I do know is that it has been really great to talk to a fantastic business about social media…its potential, its power, its opportunities and its scope.

My other meetings have been with niche recruitment businesses – not surprisingly within the HR niche – and I have been impressed with some of the ideas and values that I’ve been hearing about. One in particular this week has really interested me, offering a slightly different model that I think could well be enhanced with a social slant.

Of course the challenge in joining a recruitment business will be in finding the right fit. I know that I can add value, irrespective of how many ’live’ relationships I can bring, but conversations inevitably turn to social media.

With the opportunity that I mentioned earlier this has not been a problem, as the whole raison d’etre of having the discussion has been to utilise my social media abilities. However, when I’m talking to recruitment agencies then the social media angle has been different…in reality I have felt that I have to justify it. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging or just a belief in social recruiting.

This is a shame. Most people reading this blog will have found it through a social channel, in fact the blog itself is certainly part of the social recruiting mix, yet in the wider recruitment universe there still seems  a scepticism, a distrust, a disbelief…it’s as if people are hoping the whole thing will go away.

The other day I was told by the MD of a recruitment business that he would believe in Twitter when someone could show him the ROI of a tweet. I said…

“I can’t show you the ROI of one tweet or of a series of tweets. But what I do know is that tonight I will almost certainly be talking about rock music with the European Head of Resourcing of a global financial services brand. I’ve been to gigs with him and I’ve been camping with him. I’m due to be going to a party with him and with the HR Director of a FTSE 250 company this weekend. I first connected with them both through Twitter. I could have been cold calling them for 2 years and still be trying to have a meaningful conversation”

It’s all about the conversation, about engaging and talking not just broadcasting and selling. Social isn’t the only tool in the box, and it’s not the only one I use, but it sure helps in building real relationships.

I’m convinced that the bubble will pop and more businesses will embrace it. Not sure if my bank manager believes it…but for now, he’s not asking!

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7 Comments

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  1. Doug Shaw / Jan 14 2011 8:59 AM

    Excellent tale Mervyn – keep popping the bubbles please!

  2. Gary Franklin / Jan 14 2011 9:18 AM

    As always very well written and a pleasure to read. One thing I have learned and continue to be reminded of daily is that we should not expect anyone to be SM savvy, let alone use it as a primary engagement channel in recruiting, we shouldn’t get frustrated by the lack of evident uptake either. Each day the realisation dawns on 1000s of people. Even this morning I have read three first-time blog posts written by people new to SM and blogging. I spent a day with my team this week explaining aspects of SM; LinkedIn, Twitter and blogging. People are interested, they just need a bit of help, like we did two, three years ago. The fun part and what you do well Merv is showing them and helping them. Keep the faith

  3. David Johnston / Jan 14 2011 9:38 AM

    A good read and interesting personal touch. As Gary said people are interested in social media, but you’ve got to remember that some are only just beginning to see the value of the web in recruitment. A lot of MDs of recruitment companies made their money ‘so to speak’ when it was a Rolodex and a phone. I had one when I first started at Hays in the early nineties.

    People need to see a benefit and to understand not just social, but the web in general and how it connects people. Tara my colleague was talking to a senior Resourcing Manager yesterday, of a very well known brand, who she said they didn’t have a career website as they used agencies to recruit and their marketing department used Facebook and YouTube for branding.

    I faced the same comments as you 10 years ago, when I was working for a national recruitment business setting up the web and marketing department. The websites were initially seen as pretty brochures and it was only when I started showing that business and placements were coming from this area, rather than the FT, that I started to get investment. 4 years later and these websites were generating 40% of the net fee income. You still find recruitment businesses that don’t believe that candidates and clients will find or use their website and social is just a waste of time.

    I think a lot of people forget that Social Media is another communication tool and it can be better than the phone.

    Best of luck with the hunt

    DJ

  4. HRbeginner / Jan 14 2011 11:12 AM

    Once again, another great one in your latest repertoire Mervyn. I too experience constant questioning of social media and twitter at work and everybody is asking for ROI and business case. Now, indeed there is no simple answer and I agree with Gary about that SM sceptics need to show some interest and eagerness to learn about what is worldwide recognised as the fastest growing “way of life” and for me there is no better way than simply joining in and see for yourself. While I have myself started my networking to enhance my employability, I have quickly realised that there is more (something I will share in one of my future posts). If someone asks me today what is the ROI in twitter for their business, I ask them to stop thinking about business as a profit generator for a moment. It is about sharing what you know within industry where you want to be a leading company. You can call it marketing, but it is about more than just visibility. You learn about people within your network things which do not necessarily link to your business mission but that is what makes it more human and we are humans after all. Sharing also means caring and you can either wait for your customers to tell you what they want, or you can shape trends in direction you want. For both you need “to follow and to be followed.”

  5. MrAirmiles / Jan 14 2011 5:02 PM

    Another great post Mervyn – a true SM Ambassador!

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  2. Social media isn’t going away any time soon! « T Recs

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