How to Make Your Experience at #SourceCon Austin Awesome

We are only four days from the big event. Are you ready to get the most of SourceCon?

I attended THE first SourceCon in Atlanta. I am not quite certain how I heard about the event. As I recall, since my role at that time focused on talent sourcing, my boss encouraged me to attend. It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my career. In a way, it was a conference for the people who did not fit in the traditional recruiter roles, if you will the “misfits of recruiting.” And what happens when a bunch of misfits gets to know each other, a community of talent sourcing is born. The legendary names in recruiting/sourcing welcomed the talent sourcers who have become the well-known practitioners today. And most importantly a decade of epic work has been accomplished as the talent sourcing profession has evolved.

Ten years after the first SourceCon, I can offer some suggestions to the newcomers to this event. First and foremost, plan on learning, networking and having a great time. That said, I recommend spending a few minutes thinking strategically about what you want to accomplish at SourceCon.

Let me walk through what I do before SourceCon. I think about my involvement regarding three segments:

  • Pre-conference activities
  • Conference activities
  • Post-Conference activities

 

Pre-conference Suggested Activities

  1. Self-analysis. What additional knowledge help you in the short run?
  2. Check out the agenda and see what presentations or session tracks might be most valuable. Are any of the sessions on that topic? If so, put them on your list.
  3. Also, do some background research on the speaker. Read their previous articles or see what they tweet or endorse on social media.
  4. Search SourceCon blog via Google to see who might have written about your topic of interest. Connect with those thought leaders on social media.
  5. Connect with the session speakers on LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites.
  6. Download the mobile app. It allows you to connect with people who will be attending the conference.
  7. Don’t forget the opening keynote on Monday! Could you possibly benefit from attending a focused session with Jim Stroud? YES!

 

Conference Activities

It is game time. Welcome to SourceCon. You will start at the Welcome Desk, look for the Welcome Wagon. They will be wearing the quincuncial purple shoes. As you get your credentials, you will notice a buzz in the air. Lots of people greeting each other as old friendships are renewed. Talent sourcers tend to be huggers. But don’t feel left out, by the end of the conference you will have begun some career-long professional relationships.

I like what Aaron Orendorff wrote in his article, How to Network at a Conference: 101 Tips From Marketing’s Best.  He suggested there are five eternal networking truths;

  1. Everybody’s afraid.
  2. Everybody’s human.
  3. Everybody’s nice.
  4. Everybody’s valuable.
  5. Everybody’s social.

I would add one more truth to the above list that may be unique to SourceCon; everyone is willing to share. From its beginning, SourceCon has been sharing best practices, talent sourcing techniques, and even their secret sauce. You will see it in the presentations, you will see it in the SourceCon LinkedIn Group, and especially experience the conversations on the SourceCon Facebook group.

 

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Post-Conference Activities

A few suggestions for your activities at the SourceCon event.

  1. There are formal and informal activities. Most people attend the formal social events but tend to continue the social activities until the wee hours. Pace yourself. And do not attempt to keep up with our European colleagues, especially from the England, Australia, and Ireland.
  2. Spend time with the vendors. Most of the representatives know our space, and you can pick up some useful information. You can review the vendors in advance and check out their blogs. Many are providing very useful content in the talent sourcing space.
  3. Don’t forget the check out the Innovation Labs. It is a great place to see what some entrepreneurs have created to serve the talent sourcing space. On a personal note, I am looking forward to co-hosting the Innovation Labs with Pete Radloff.
  4. Map out the sessions that you want to attend. Make certain to include Sourcing Hack-A-Thon in your itinerary.  Either participate or watch, it is an interesting event.
  5. The Sourcing Roundtables can be very educational. These sessions are led by a talent sourcing practitioner who will showcase tools, hacks, and techniques that are very valuable.  Some of the more popular sessions fill up quickly, so plan who you want to observe and get there early.
  6. Always be networking. Meet the people around you in the sessions and contact exchange information. That is the first step in building your network.
  7. Meet people from your geographical area. I normally take the opportunity to meet people from the Pacific Northwest who may be attending SourceCon. People that I met at SourceCon Atlanta 2007 became and remain great friends. It all began with saying hello.

As you wing you way back home, I have a few suggestions for post SourceCon activities.

  1. Follow-up with the people you met. Connect on the appropriate social media platforms.
  2. Connect with the speakers whose sessions you attended. Share some feedback about what you’re liked or learned.
  3. If your community has professional networks, connect with them. For example, in Seattle, we have Sourcing 7 and the NorthWest Recruiters Association. They are great ways to continue the SourceCon relationship. I know that Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Portland and others have active recruiting networking organizations.
  4. Share what you learned with your boss and your colleagues. That is the best way to ensure that you get to attend the next SourceCon in Las Vegas.
  5. Consider writing an article for the SourceCon blog on your experience. Many of us expanded our brand by writing for SourceCon. And besides, if you write six blog posts, you can attend the next SourceCon for free. Shannon Prichett, the SourceCon editor, is always looking for new voices.
  6. When the slide decks become available for SourceCon Austin, review the presentations that you’re attended; it will help anchor those lessons in your mind. Also, check out the information on the sessions that you did not attend as there are some gems to be gleaned.
  7. It is time for some more self-analysis. Did you fill the knowledge gaps that you hoped to before SourceCon? If you still need to enhance skills in certain areas, note them and review the subject matter experts that might be able to help you. Engage them and simply ask for help; most thought leaders will be happy to assist you.

 

I hope SourceCon Austin will be career enhancing for you. Recruiting and talent sourcing has never been as important and as challenging as it is today. Just as yesterday’s legendary names in talent sourcing welcomed the current thought leaders, it is our turn to pay it forward. And in turn, you will be part of the evolution of talent sourcing.

 

 

Marvin Smith is veteran talent acquisition practitioner who focuses on strategic talent sourcing, talent community building, social recruiting, employment branding, and the use of technology to drive talent identification and engagement strategies. He has been on teams that were at the forefront of resurgence of talent sourcing as a strategic weapon in talent acquisition. These teams piloted groundbreaking programs (ERE-Media-award-winning) work that used business intelligence, data, and technology to segment the target talent audiences and build talent pipelines and communities. His current role is a strategic talent sourcing consultant with Lockheed Martin, where he is responsible for talent pipeline building for critical skills talent; project management of a RMP (recruitment marketing platform); and driving corporate-wide, talent community initiatives. Previously, he served as senior research recruiter on an internal executive recruiting team with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; a strategic sourcing program manager with Blackberry (Research In Motion); and a talent sourcer/program manager for Microsoft. He is a writer and speaker on the topics of talent communities, strategic talent sourcing, Moneyball sourcing, and talent acquisition strategies. You can follow his blog or join a community that he created on talent community development or follow him on Twitter.

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