Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Project Social - Let's Clique

I'm the classic late adopter. I'm the girl who waited for an iPhone before upgrading my ten year old Siemens cellphone that forced me to buy a larger purse if I wanted to leave the house with it.

It's not that I lack technical prowess - I used to be a pretty good software developer before I moved into more functional roles and lost my geek cred. But I do lack patience with early versions that seem to be designed by - and for - unmarried engineers in their twenties.

In fact I insist that an application be developed by at least one harassed new dad in his early thirtees and tested by a team of busy moms before I will even look at it.

That's why I'm relatively new to social media, compared to many people out there. I started this blog about talent management about two years ago, joined the Compensation Cafe team about a year ago and finally caved to Twitter just a few months ago.

When I found Project Social over at Ben Eubank's Upstart HR, I signed right up. After more than a year figuring out stuff on my own it felt like the right time to reach out for some more experienced guidance.

Almost immediately I got a Gmail via LinkedIn from Victorio Milian saying I'd been paired up with Dave Ryan, otherwise known as the HR Czar - a name I recognized from my Twitter contacts. And sure enough, within a few hours of receiving Victorio's email I received a Twitter message from Dave asking how soon we could meet.

Dave is in the process of launching a new blog "The HR Official" and has already written a great post about our first international, Skype-based meeting. Since Dave already described our project goals and game plan in his post, I thought I'd cover why I recommend Project Social to any HR folks who want to get more involved with social media:
  1. Social media techology has reached a tipping point where social has overtaken technology - in other words, you can be a technology dunce and still get your voice out there.
  2. It's a terrific way to 'take the pulse' on topics you care about, find out what people are saying, and even chat with them about it.
  3. Project Social will give you access to someone who knows the ropes and can help you take the first steps.
Dave asked me a great question while we were chatting: Do I think people in social media are cliquey?

I can only speak from my own experience. For the most part people are friendly and welcoming but many of them are business people and their time is valuable. You can't just sign up for Twitter and expect that everyone you follow will follow you back.

For example, I tend to follow people with similar interests, i.e., HR technology, talent management, compensation, etc. Selective following gives me more time to focus on topics and connect with people.

When it comes to building a social network I've encountered three kinds of people:
  1. People who mostly ignore you, either because they are so well-established they don't need to cultivate new followers or so busy they don't have time.
  2. People who respond to comments on their blog and thank you for re-tweets but never comment on your blog or re-tweet anything of yours. Some of them are good bloggers and you can learn a lot from them but don't expect to establish much of a relationship.
  3. People who reciprocate, taking the time to comment on your blog or tweet your links to their own followers. These are the people who form your 'real' virtual network.
This list will be different for each person because different people 'attract' each other. Generally speaking, I passively follow the first group, spend a bit more time on the second group and make an effort to actively interact with and support the third group.

Just like in real life, I spend more time with the people I 'clique' with.


  1. So would it be gosh for me to comment on your post and tell you how much I enjoyed reading about you and me? Good Post!

  2. This is such a wonderful and important post. I, for one, believe those in social media are extremely cliquey, but your subcategorization broke this down so perfectly that I really have nothing more to add than "well done!!" (and I'm going to try harder to break out of the clique).

  3. Hi Laura,

    This is a well written, funny, and thoughtful post. You appear to have found a way to organize people online in a way that works for you. You've found your niche, which can be difficult for people first jumping into the social media waters.

    I'm also glad to hear that your Project: Social experience is off to a great start! Ben and I look forward to helping Dave and you on this journey.

  4. Laurie,

    Good post. You've hit a subject that has been talked about in more than one venue. I tend to disagree with the word "clique". It denotes exclusivity which I don't believe exists. I think that the group tends to include people with open arms. At least that is the feeling I felt when I "joined" earlier this year. It has been very easy to create relationships and, dare I say, friendships.

    We do have very similar interests in social media and networking and for those without that interest it may be daunting to fall into this group. However, if anyone wants to learn about that subject, it is easy to find those willing to help. I can think of several examples of that in the last few months alone.

    Keep up your good work and I look forward to more discussions in this area.

  5. I wrote about the "clique" aspect a while back. I think there is a difference in experience between someone who wants the community to listen to them and someone who wants to be part of that community.

    Sounds like you and I have similar backgrounds. I look forward to reading more!

  6. There is a cliquishness in life. People are comfortable with people they know. I don't think the HR blogging community is much different in that regard. There are people who seem to have a lot of time to chitchat...and then there are other people who don't. It's a matter of priorities.

    Myself, I don't see a ton of value in the chitchat part. The "good morning, everyone" kind of thing on Twitter. Using social media just for social media's sake. (In the same vein, I don't have time to pick up the phone and talk to a bunch of people each day other than those who have to do with our HR communication business. )

    I like people. A lot. But I run a business and I don't have time for happy-happy joy-joy. That means I'm not part of the clique, I guess. What I do is spend time working with our clients. Talking to legitimate HR leaders. (I mean people who run entire HR organizations in Fortune 100 companies.)

    I guess there's something interesting about social media. It draws in a lot of types of people. One big group seems to be the ones who need validation. I'd suggest that your late adoption to this world means that you already have that kind of calibration. And we need more people like you in this tiny little HR blogging world. I'm glad you're here. And I look forward to what the next year brings.

    I'll be back. You're on my RSS reader now. (You can thank Victorio for directing me your way. And I see Mark is here. Dave, too. This is a cool place to hang out. See you soon.)

    Thanks for the very good post.

  7. Any chance you can open full feeds? I subscribed but it's a partial feed and I simply can't do that.

  8. Thank you all for your comments. I hope some of you continue to be involved with Project Social, each of you has a lot of great insight to offer.

    Frank - done!

  9. I love the post. I too have questioned the apparent nature of the clique in SM, but the jury is still out because this is still so new to me. What I think is so difficult is the inability to get any kind of read on people or feedback when we don't have the privilege of face-to-face contact. HR people tend to be very good at reading non-verbals, or in hearing the engagement of others in conversations - it's what we do. But in the virtual world, people either engage, or they don't, and the only logical conclusion to be reached is that they are inclusive, or they or exclusive. Maybe this isn't a fair or accurate assessment for a new reality. I'm finding that there are many people who are very open and engaging.

  10. Yes open up full feed please. Would be great!

  11. Hi Laura - glad I found you via your post on the Carnival and via Dave. Look forward to reading and connecting.

  12. Hi Laura:
    That is such a nice summary and very helpful for me as a relative newcomer to the wider world of social media sharing. It does feel good.

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