Impress Me

by John on June 19, 2012

I’m not that easily impressed.

Being from Miami, you tend to get desensitized to what others might view as some pretty impressive things. The weather, the ocean, pretty people, amazing restaurants, fancy cars, big houses, awesome professional NBA team, face eating drug induced zombie attacks… you get the picture. It’s all part of the normal day-to-day experience in my crazy world.

So imagine my surprise when I can say that I was genuinely impressed this past week.

This was my first chance to attend the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) 2012 conference. NACE serves as the professional association for individuals in my industry; think of it as a smaller version of SHRM filled with an eclectic mix of personalities, counseling styles, experience, and opinion.

Choosing Vegas as a conference location is always interesting. The grandiose hotels with matching casinos, the allure of easy money, free alcohol, and cast of characters on the strip at any given hour tend to overshadow event programming. But this didn’t happen.

The programming was excellent, even if it skewed a bit much to the topic of social media. I’d love to see the conference planners move away from this topic, it’s becoming a subject that has been covered, recovered, and beaten like a dead horse.

In addition to the programming, there were four other items that made the time away from my girls bearable (note: I didn’t get paid to shill for these peeps, they were truly awesome, legitimate, and engaging):

Lotus of Siam: When I attended HREvolution and HR Tech last year, I was lucky to present and spend most of my time with Matt Stollak. The fact that he was 20-2 in the sports book was pretty cool. He in turn had made reservations to this hole in the wall, Thai restaurant just off the strip. The food, service and wine list are world class. The location, it’s interesting. Well worth the time and effort to get there.

The Direct Employers Association: One of the nice thing about tweetups, you get to meet people you’ve been interacting and sharing with across the social platform and possibly share a beer and some great conversations. The not so nice thing is that it takes some time to weed through the disingenuous networking micro-celebrities all but screaming “look-at-me”. I had a chance to meet and have a great conversation with Nancy Holland and Jaime Costilow. Not only did they put up with my annoying “micro-celebrity” attitude, but they were able to share with me the mission and vision of their organization. Good stuff.

Universum: I had mentioned this firm in some earlier posts. I was recently in New York City at their annual conference and awards as an attendee. I found it just a bit ironic that when I returned from Panama, my director and I had a conversation about some specific research they provided our office. While at NACE, I had an opportunity to chat with several members of the team in a great setting. And even though the Swedish national team did not put up an impressive performance in the UEFA tournament, I was however; very impressed by everyone I met from the organization. Thanks for the insights.

Interviewstream: Great product. Good people. Not only did they work their tails off on the vendor floor, they also had brought Nick Ivory, an illusionist to help drive traffic and keep the conversations flowing. Full disclosure, we’re already clients of theirs and yes, eventually I have an MBO that will require me to expand on a few of their offerings. However, when you can have a great conversation with the team and share best practices and insights and not feel like you’re being sold-to/talked-down-to…that’s a great thing.

So I’m off to Atlanta and the SHRM conference. I’ll keep you posted on a few of the more exciting (and not so exciting) events that I’m slated to attend.

I’ll be easy to spot, in the back of the room quietly taking notes and trying to avoid disingenuous networking, waiting to be impressed.

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