The gaps between Comms Pros and the rest of the business are being bridged by social. You are the glue

I love symmetry! Some might call it OCD but I prefer even numbers over odd. There is something about balance in a relational sense that is calming. Now I type it out and read it again, it does sound a little weird, but do me a favour and don’t judge, I do have a point! Having worked in the tech industry for a long time now, I really quite enjoy how my profession as a communicator crosses over into the industry in which I primarily serve. Technology and communication are close bed fellows. And it is this hand in glove measure that is all powerful for comms pros today.

I was in Melbourne last week at Cisco Live and one of the key points I took away and agree with strongly is the concept of turning Big Data into wisdom. If you haven’t heard of Big Data before, it is capturing the digital trail of people and things in order to map patterns and identify better ways of getting stuff done. The thing is, numbers and analysis mean nothing if you don’t know the questions to ask and what the answers mean when they come back. Big Data is a big problem if you don’t know how to use it.

Social media drives much of this data today. It gives us key insights and offers referrals that are far more powerful than we’d ever previously had at our disposal. The concept of ‘crowd sourcing’ has been derived from this.

The first written use of the word “crowdsourcing” was by Steve Jurvetson in February 2006. He wrote “Crowdsourcing is an online, distributed problem-solving and production model”. Since then many businesses have benefited from the idea – the most obvious to me being freelance.com

freelance.com showcases the skills of qualified contractors/freelancers  by letting you brief a job to a wide audience and allowing them to bid for it. If you are looking for new business, it’s a great way to get yourself out there, and if you are looking for different ideas without paying through the nose for them, this presents you with an outstanding option. Basically, global connectivity allows you to use the numbers to your advantage.

Interestingly in 2013, seven years after the concept of crowd sourcing came to light, the next big thing is leveraging social networks and big data to ensure you get the right staff in your business! This is a HR manager’s utopia. For a comms pro, it’s an amazing opportunity!

Having the right people can make all the difference to a business. It is so, so important! It can also be an expensive process, especially when you don’t get it right. Social media enables a cost effective, intelligent way to ‘staff source’!

As early adopters transition to the early majority with respect to staff sourcing, comms pros have the chance to put the food closer to the fish. It’s not to negate the need for HR, it’s to enhance the position of comms pros as educators of other functional departments where it makes sense. Social media sits perfectly in the comms pro’s kit bag and once again gives another reason for you to rightly claim more share of voice at the strategic end of the executive table.

Recent data shows that HR professionals are facing a big data deluge, with confusion over how to manage talent data to impact company performance.

Despite workforce planning and talent analytics being referenced among the top priorities for HR managers, less than half say their organisations use objective data on employees’ competencies and skills to make workforce decisions and just 18 per cent of HR professionals are satisfied with the way their organisation manages talent data. Social media offers a solution, but the question remains – how do you turn this big data into wisdom.

Enabling your business to get the right staff, while being sensitive to your organisational culture:

Using the right vehicles. You can’t assume people know what social media sites work for staff sourcing. Stats show Facebook just doesn’t make as much sense as Linkedin, which quite rightly has the professional market cornered. The subtleties of Linkedin show much when you know what to look for. A lot of activity, updates of skills and recommendations suggests someone might just be ready to consider the next move for example. Google+ also has a focus on user profile development. Recruiters interested in staff sourcing should begin to develop their connection network. On Google+ its known as the “Circle” function. For Linkedin, it’s there at your fingertips, but you need to invest time in it. Thinking it’s like shooting fish in a barrel is a rookie mistake.

Lunch and learn seminars. There’s nothing like the human touch when it comes to bringing digital to life. Brown paper bag sessions run by comms pros for staff wanting to know more about how they can better leverage vehicles is a forum that works well because questions are often more readily answered via personal collaboration. You want to give whoever will listen confidence in social because the wider your net the more effective it is. Staff sourcing doesn’t just sit with HR or comms – it’s a whole of business exercise.

Bring your organisation’s personality to life. You can’t use the same old corporate blurb and expect that to represent your culture, which is often more attractive to prospective staffers than your focus and financial performance. It needs to be fresh and fluid. A boilerplate says little about who you are and how you work. Interaction amongst your team will be what sets you apart, so comms pros have a huge role to play in inciting this level of engagement amongst individuals and teams. It needs to have a good mixture of work and fun!

Start a conversation! What better way to spike someone’s interest than to set in motion industry discussion topics seeded strategically to stretch people’s imaginations via social. Potential recruits are drawn to passionate people. You don’t want to just entice with a salary package, but a team with big dreams. Thought leaders aren’t just corporate spokespeople. As a comms pro, you do this all day, but your position as a peer is as important as your position as a leader when it comes to staff sourcing. It’s not rocket-science, it just requires a little thought and planning!

– My name is Aaron Crowther. Follow me on Twitter @ascommstweeter

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