We're back from the 2007 ERExpo in San Diego, slightly sunburned, well-rested (we stayed extra days in La Jolla), amazed, thrilled and disappointed.
First, let me just say congratulations to David Manaster, who pulled off a great event with world-class companies and excellent sessions. I'm sure the behind the scenes is messy, but I didn't see any mistakes, and that has to be a good feeling for the largest ERExpo to date. David told me over 600 paid registrants and a about a thousand people total (including vendors and speakers) attended. David's wrap-up is on his blog.
Second, let me say thank you to my fellow panelists. Heather Hamilton was knowledgeable and spoke about branding. Dennis Smith spoke about industry recruiting, and Joe Grimm talked about the personal touch that blogging has brought him in the newspaper recruiting business. Thank you to all three for agreeing to appear in public with me.
On a side note - in addition to being very funny, Joe Grimm is an extremely courteous man raised on Midwestern values. Each time my wife came over to us, he would stand in introduction. When was the last time you saw such respect? Seriously, I spent a lot of time with Joe, and count him among new-found friends.
So what about the conference? I'd say that there was a clear theme running through the conference attendees. Change is in the Wind.
It seemed that every exhibitor was talking about a new way of doing things. A new way to look at recruiting. A new technology that helps you find passive candidates. How is that different than every other conference?
People believed it. An electricity ran through the crowds and the speeches - something is coming - and everybody wants to be on top of it. That something is change - and every vendor, from the established to the start-up wants to be the person leading the charge.
Companies: Everyone was there. Tivo. Google. Monster. Careerbuilder. Dice. Jobster. BountyJobs. Talenthire. ZoomInfo. Qualigence. I have more schwag then I can shake a stick at. At on the registrant side - you had namebrand companies - the brands you use very day as well as the companies you do business with - were all here. I was frankly amazed.
The focus on Web 2.0 was thrilling. From social networking to blogs to communities of passive talent to interactive careers sites to employment branding, the clear message was that interaction with consumers was the new black. That was personally gratifying.
But also disappointing. I know that trends have to be understood before they are enacted, and for a lot of people, all of this new technology is overwhelming, but I still felt we as an industry were still in the "talking about" phase instead of that "doing" phase. The idea of building communities of interest around a company using new tools like blog, video, podcast, and social networking was a curiousity, but still lacked many people who actually could take a company from start to finish.
Where are the recruitment marketing agencies on this? I was disappointed, because if I decided to expand Durbin Media Group - I could hire ten people and have an impact immediately in selling ad implementing the services that everyone was talking about.
But there is always the problem of time. It is my hope that by next year, we have several examples of how to implement the ideas from this conference. I have many e-mails and many posts to make, as well as several interviews, including one with Monster, where I will endeavor to give Monster the chance to speak to the blogs. It's a different message than you might expect.
Great job, David. And congratulations.