March Madness Part 3: The “Dear Mark, You Are No Longer An HR Influencer” Episode

Mark Fogel Mark Fogel, politics, SHRM, Sports

Each year I do a post on March Madness and bring you a kaleidoscope of issues and musings across the HR landscape. Of course, I mingle in politics and the college basketball tournament to lighten things up.

This year my post is a little darker than usual, as we see the effects of “the Circus” in Washington D.C. rattle all of us with crazy actions by our executive, legislative and judicial branches. It’s enough to pinch oneself and ask have we entered the twilight zone? Add to this the Coronavirus throwing a scare into the markets last week and HR folks will certainly be busy dealing with folks traveling oversees and keeping folks out of the office for prolonged periods of time to play it safe. Can you say work remotely three times fast?

On the HR landscape, what would conference season be without a little SHRM controversy? Some of you may be aware that after close to a decade, the SHRM folks are ditching the Blogger team at this year’s national conference. Our news arrived via Facebook :

SHRM is implementing a new influencer program for #SHRM20.

For the past several years, SHRM has provided complimentary conference registration to a dedicated and talented group of HR influencers to help promote and cover the best highlights from the largest and most popular HR conference in the world.

This year’s invitation criteria were based on the influencers’ follower numbers (20,000+) and level of engagement. We also plan to add several high-level influencers from outside the HR profession to this year’s mix.

Thank you for your contributions over the years and we look forward to seeing you at #SHRM20.

So based on my twitter feed, I am no longer considered an HR influencer by SHRM. 20k in followers on Twitter is the main data point being used. Fair? I’m not sure, but it’s not my fight and I’m fine if they don’t believe I have a large enough reach. I am not big on Twitter, however my LinkedIn and blogging reach is vast…and as far as the complimentary pass, most years that I have gone have been as a speaker or on my dime. Maybe it was time for a change. From an ROI standpoint, I’m not sure if there was value add the past year or two for SHRM.

What is lost in this is not whether all the bloggers had the reach or created a value advantage, but that many if not most are insiders to the HR community and SHRM. Practitioners, recruiters and educators. Most of this group are extremely loyal to the mother ship and an the event/group provided an opportunity for emerging bloggers to mingle with a few veterans to sharpen their pen and viewpoints. I shared the story of what SHRM did with the bloggers with students in one of my HR classes at Adelphi University (where I teach HR), and was met with bewilderment. One student said it sounds like Ageism, they only want young folks who tweet a lot. Funny comment as I am speaking at SHRM Talent in Orlando next month on Ageism….

Another student stated they thought that marketing folks don’t understand the HR Tribe. Personally, I don’t get adding influencers from outside the profession to the mix either. Sounds like a couple of marketing execs trying to mess with the formula. Let’s remember this is a membership organization supported by and  for the HR community. Oh, and they are a non-profit too. So why the focus on Influencing at 20k? Does it really matter? And in the end it was a way for SHRM to give back to it’s very own. I’ll let all of you reading this decide. My fellow FOT’r Laurie weighed in on this recently too and makes some interesting points.

If nothing else, SHRM could have delivered the news a little better then a Facebook post (Facebook, really?).

In regards to this years Conference landscape, WorkHuman again tops the list along with several talent-related conferences from March to June. Of course, it has become a little tech heavy. Let’s remember most talent acquisition is done for businesses outside the tech world. Maybe it is time for a few conferences to play to a broader audience. As I stated earlier, I will be at SHRM Talent in Orlando with Tim Sackett and Katrina Kibben, my fellow FOTers. If you are there, please stop and say hi!

Let’s move on to the tournament. This year is wide open. Some of the perennial favorites may not even make the tournament. Can you say the North Carolina Tar Heels? There are also a couple of surprises at the top including Baylor, Maryland, San Diego State and Seton Hall. Of course, Kentucky, Villanova, and Kansas are all surging at the right time as they always seem to do. This could be the year a team outside the top 15 wins it all. I like Gonzaga, Dayton and Marquette – why not this year for the little school to win it all?

Well, I have to go work on upping my twitter count and get ready to speak at SHRM. I’m still a believer in the organization even if I don’t agree on some of their actions.