I often say that on a daily basis, I learn from and am inspired by the people I have met through my favourite social network, Twitter. For those of you who think Twitter is just about what Lady Gaga ate for breakfast or other celebrity gossip, you are missing out.
When I started using Twitter in early 2009, it was simply to learn. Rather than searching Google and getting results from years ago on the first page, Twitter searches allowed me to find the most recent, up to date articles and information. I created a Twitter account and simply searched and read, rarely sending a tweet. Several months later, I came across my first “Twitter chat”. It was about leading Generation Y, and was like a fast-paced meeting of the minds involving people all over the world sharing thoughts and experiences. I watched and read the tweets flying by, and before long, I joined the discussion. To my surprise, people answered me and soon I was hooked. That first chat introduced me to the conversational world of Twitter, and that’s when I realized how powerful it was as a social medium.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve participated in hundreds of chats and over the past year, I’ve met (in person) more than 150 people through Twitter. My network has grown exponentially in a short time, and I’ve been introduced to people whom I would likely never have met otherwise.
Some of the HR people I’ve met on Twitter have become trusted friends, advisors, and collaborators. Others teach me new perspectives or inspire me to think differently. All of them are fabulous. I’ve highlighted some of the HR people I’ve met below. My apologies if I’ve missed you! I tried narrowing it down to 5 people, but that simply wasn’t possible… so I thought about 5 “types” of HR people and then give a quick mention to some of the wonderful people I have met through Twitter. Plus, I have some tips on turning twitter relationships into real life ones.
1. Thought Leaders
As I mentioned above, I started using Twitter for research. There are great articles, blogs and thoughts being shared on Twitter constantly. Someone recently said to me “Thought Leaders are writers”, and there are a ton of writers sharing their thoughts on Twitter!
Before Twitter, I was immersed in my own little network of people I worked with at present or in the past. Since joining Twitter, my eyes have been opened to the innovative things happening in HR all over the world. There are HR people blazing new trails for us to follow, pioneering new tools and techniques, and inviting others to participate and learn.
3. Community Builders
Some people are just amazing at connecting people and acting as the glue to keep the community together. I think of them as the bartender in a local pub – they get to know people, what matters to them, they make them feel comfortable and have genuine conversations with them. Many of these people start Twitter chats and have done an amazing job at keeping conversations going and connecting people around topics, themes, and experience.
There are so many diverse people and opinions on twitter that it is a great place to meet collaborators. As a solopreneur, I often miss having a team to brainstorm and discuss projects with. I’ve met some brilliant HR leaders through twitter who have become great collaborators as well.
I have ‘done my time’ in HR in Employee and Labour Relations, Health and Safety, and Compensation. I say “done my time” because there are some things I love doing, that give me energy and drive me every day, and there are some that simply don’t. I love developing and facilitating training, helping leaders plan for and manage communication and transition, and developing branded culture. I also love meeting experts in the areas I don’t love. I’ve been fortunate to meet many of those experts through Twitter.
HR People I’ve Met
Now for some suggestions on great HR people to follow and to meet in person when you have the chance! Each of these people fall into more than one of the categories above, so I couldn’t pigeonhole them into one. All of them are great HR leaders.
Christine McLeod - @impactresults
I met Christine in person last fall, and her energy was so contagious that within a few days I had planned a trip to BC to attend the first Impact99 event in her home town of Squamish BC. Her vision for the future workplace and her talent for connecting with brilliant people are inspiring. This year, I have become her partner in bringing Impact99 HR Summit to the GTA.
Tim Baker - @timbakerhr
After many tweets back and forth over several months, I finally met Tim in person at the HRPA conference in January 2012. He is known for being a #wittyhrguy on twitter, and is also witty in person! Tim and I share a thirst for learning and an interest in new technology. It was great to meet Tim when a group of us got together in front of the twitter-wall to finally take our online relationship offline.
Meghan M Biro - @meghanmbiro
Meghan is from Massachusetts and writes for Forbes and other publications. She built the #TChat Twitter community and blog network. That community has become a great place for me to share and discuss thoughts about the world of work. After years of chatting on Twitter, I finally met Meghan in person last November at the Impact99 conference in Toronto. She was just as effervescent and brilliant in person as online, and I feel honoured to have met her and to call her a friend.
Alyssa Burkus - @alyssaburkus
You may know Alyssa through her posts here. She and I met for coffee after several tweeted conversations, and I knew immediately that I would love to work with her. She is strategic and thoughtful, and has become a great friend and collaborator. She also founded and moderates #HRBookchat on Twitter – a great learning and connection opportunity. The next one is Sept 24 at 7:30 pm ET.
Joanne Royce - @joanneroyce
Joanne and I are volunteers on the HRPA Halton’s board of directors, so we likely would have met without Twitter – but it was on Twitter that I first eached out to ask her about her experience on the board and about with her business before I ran for my position and entered entrepreneurship. She’s a smart and classy lady and I appreciate her friendship.
Jennifer King - @jenniferaking
Jennifer is an HR leader who is also very involved in the community in her home town of London. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her in some sort of leadership role in her city in the not-too-distant future… We met first on Twitter, and then in person at Impact99 last year.
Jeff Waldman - @jeffwaldmanhr
I met Jeff through a #TChat on Twitter, then in person. Jeff co-founded Impact99 with Christine McLeod, and is now running Social HR Camps around the globe! I’m looking forward to seeing what else is up his sleeve…
Bonni Titgemeyer - @bonnitoronto
You all know Bonni from the EOList, but if you’re not on Twitter you may not realize how witty and smart she is in 140 characters, and that she has done an amazing job at connecting HR practitioners globally with #TEPHR chat. We met in person at the Twitter wall (with Tim Baker and others) at the HRPA conference, and have had coffee since – and she’s just as awesome in person! Plus she’s super smart, especially in the areas of HR that make my palms sweat!
Tips on Meeting People Through Twitter
People often ask me how I have met so many people through Twitter. Here are some tips.
- Have conversations, don’t just retweet or share articles. Reply to people, answer questions, get to know them.
- Join Twitter chats. These chats are a great way to find people who are like-minded or have diverse opinions and knowledge. You can get to know their expertise, establish some common ground, and build a relationship from there.
- Attend events. I met many of these people through twitter first, but then in person at the HRPA conference or at Impact99. Twitter acts as an easy way to introduce yourself and provide some simple talking points. Shameless plug, but Impact99 is really more than an event – one of our top goals is to help our attendees become part of an ongoing community, to help them guild their inner circle of trusted advisors.
- Invite people you think are interesting to a coffee chat, or start with a Skype conversation first.
I haven’t been disappointed with anyone I’ve met through twitter yet. It’s like a pre-screen for a job candidate, helping me narrow down the people I’m interested in getting to know. If you haven’t joined twitter, I highly recommend it as a way to learn and grow your network. And if you want to learn how to use it, we are offering a free eLearning course – Twitter4HR 101 – to all registered attendees of Impact99!
Please do connect with me on Twitter – I love meeting new HR people and helping them get acquainted to the ‘social space’!