What We’re Learning

 (December 18, 2007) The Recruiting Roadshow dominated my attention during 2007. With highly successful events in Minneapolis, Atlanta and Dallas, there’s a ton of information to sift through as the model goes through a refining process. Here are the first half dozen of the emerging themes:

  • New Market: When asked, over 95% of Roadshow participants have never attended a national trade show like ERE, OnRec, Kennedy, IHRIM or HRTech. This is one of the most surprising findings. The regulars on the trade show circuit inhabit a closed universe. What’s actually happening in the trenches is other than you’d guess if you only follow the shows and the online stuff.
  • It’s Really Local: There are people working in the industry who are smarter, broader and more interesting than the standard crew of industry celebrities (myself included). They are working to solve Recruiting problems in their cities and towns and are only vaguely interested in national trends or generalizations. Local speakers generate much more enthusiasm and response than national speakers at local events.
  • Schwag is a Currency: One of my Recurring nightmares is that I am being chased by a Recruiter at a National Trade Show. She’s got a bag full of colorful giveaways (schwag). She wants me to stamp her bingo card so she can win the raffle. She wants my schwag but isn’t vaguely interested in learning more about me. People who have never been to a trade show value schwag differently. They think of it as a gift. It means more.
  • Local Leadership is Critical: Poor Paul DeBettignies. (His motto is “Blame no one. Expect nothing. Do something.”) The Roadshow he produced in Minneapolis (with lots of enthusiastic help) seems to be catching on. Independent of our efforts, the second Minneapolis event was executed flawlessly and very well received. This means more work for Paul. Building infrastructure is not a one shot deal. This will be an area of really big innovation in our 2008 schedule.
  • The Training Deficit is Killing Us: There simply is no broad based training available for the Recruiting Industry. There are, indeed, noble experiments and small institutions. The universe of working Recruiters (between 500,000 and 900,000) have extremely limited access to professional development. At the very minimum, 10% want more now. The Roadshow illuminates this need.
  • Cynicism is a Barrier to Entry: The timeshare sales mindset (fee vacation if you listen to an arm twisting pitch) sullies possibilities. Many participants were simply shocked to discover that there was no hard sell to be found. As word of mouth picks up, the reputation for a PBS style approach will gain traction quickly.

None of this means that trade shows are anything less than critical to the functioning of the industry. Sometimes, I have the feeling that I am holding a lit match in a massive cave. The question is how to reach a majority of the industry not whether one method is better than anothr. Roadshows and tradeshows are different things for different audiences.

John Sumser. – © 2007 Two Color Hat, Inc. Santa Rosa, CA


  1. Great concept and execution! Continued sucess to you in ’08.

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