Me & Twitter – It’s a Love Thang!






It must have been fate.

Three years ago today, at about 3 in the afternoon, I climbed the stairs to see the guys in Marketing. They were busy, having fun writing what sounded like limericks. I asked what they were doing and was told they were trying to summarise their lives in 140 characters.

Why? I asked.

We’re going to start using Twitter. They said. Going to try it out, see how we can use it internally and also externally to connect with clients and candidates. It’s going to be big so we want to get in there and try it early. Why don’t you join in?

Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about it. And that was it; I gave it no more thought.

But it nagged away at me, and later that night, 2nd February 2009, I set up a Twitter page. Far too timid to call myself @mervyndinnen I called myself @mervino , a nickname which Callum Saunders gave me.

And I tweeted. It was a nonsense tweet about the football transfer window which was closing that night and it was about a player Arsenal were about to sign. But I hit send and waited. And waited. But nobody spoke back to me.

Undeterred I tweeted again the next day and followed my marketing colleagues. And Stephen Fry. My marketing colleagues talked back to me but Stephen Fry didn’t.

Timid days and I didn’t know where it would lead. But I stuck with it. And since then I’ve tweeted a lot more, changed my name to @mervyndinnen and had fun. And it’s been good to me. It’s helped me do lots of things: Continue reading “Me & Twitter – It’s a Love Thang!”

The Precariousness of Life

Sometimes I think that we can become numb to bad news, especially when it comes in quick succession. Recently there has been quite a bit of it globally and we are used to hearing it, broadcast with sound and image, often leaving us just stunned and usually silent in disbelief.

But when the bad news affects us on a very personal level then the emotions become more focused…anger, hurt, helplessness, philosophical. We look for different ways of dealing with grief. Over the last few days two pieces of sad news hit me in quick succession, leaving me feeling quite empty. Continue reading “The Precariousness of Life”

One Big Happy HR Family

Today sees the fourth ConnectingHR get together…a tweetup which had been widely and energetically anticipated. Having been involved in this community from the idea stage through previous tweetups and an unconference to its current stage of weekly chat and daily twitter interaction I have been excited and energised by the way it has developed from a social network into a real community. 

We are supportive, collaborative and encouraging, sharing information, thoughts, feelings and wisdom. Every week sees new bloggers and a new contributors. We talk HR, we talk food!

I was drawn to a blogpost from Kevin Wheeler which first appeared last summer – From Social Networks to Communities – in which he talks of the development of networks of people into communities, in which everyone has access to and can communicate with everyone else.

The post is a really good read. Kevin talks of 5 characteristics that a strong community exhibits:

Collaboration and Sharing

Feeling Included

Similar Values



There’s little doubt in my mind that the ConnectingHR community exhibits all these…it has  moved from tentative to social to fully collaborative. I know from personal experience how they have pulled together to help during my recent change of circumstances and they are welcoming and embracing.

Last week I joined some of the community at a local CIPD branch meeting where we helped HR professionals new to social media to navigate obstacles and hesitancies and to start connecting and engaging. It seemed natural and was borne out of a strong interest to get as many people involved as possible.

The ConnectingHR tweetup is more than a networking event.

It’s a night out with friends.

We’re one big happy HR family!

Boy in a Bubble

I’ve been living in a social world for the last couple of years or so, it’s a bit like living in a bubble…free from naysayers and doubters.  

A lot of the new connections that I have made have originated from, or because of, social media. Most are business connections, but quite a few are social, in the traditional sense! My social life certainly now encompasses a richer mix of characters and activities (I mean…camping with someone who’s name you don’t even know!) and all of this has helped increase my belief in the power of the medium.

It wasn’t a conscious decision, it just happened. I started using social media platforms for communicating and it just grew. A lot of the words that we use to describe good social media communicators – enabler, encourager, connector, facilitator, conversationalist, networker – have often been used to describe me at different times in my career.

In truth, I have almost certainly always been like this. I have never been the classic door opening sales person, more of an engager and relationship builder. It has served me well…as you will read elsewhere on this site, I have been a billing recruiter – month on month, year on year – for 20 years, and you can’t really do that unless you can develop long term, trusting, value add relationship.

If I can continue blowing my own trumpet for just a moment, I would say that the social world suits me and plays to my strengths. I enjoy the small talk. And sometimes there’s no obvious ROI on small talk.

Now that I’m on the job market, my modus operandi is more open to scrutiny. How do I build relationships? What relationships can I bring with me? What’s my track record? And…

What do I see in this social media thing?

Ah yes, social media is never far away from the conversation. Clearly, I have set myself on a mission to find a job socially and am really pleased that so far I have had quite a bit of interest without really having applied for anything specific as yet. There is one opportunity that has really exciting possibilities, and which would be quite different to what I have done before, and would be pretty much all social. Whether it will come off I don’t know. It may require too big a leap of faith, or it may just be the right thing at the wrong time. What I do know is that it has been really great to talk to a fantastic business about social media…its potential, its power, its opportunities and its scope.

My other meetings have been with niche recruitment businesses – not surprisingly within the HR niche – and I have been impressed with some of the ideas and values that I’ve been hearing about. One in particular this week has really interested me, offering a slightly different model that I think could well be enhanced with a social slant.

Of course the challenge in joining a recruitment business will be in finding the right fit. I know that I can add value, irrespective of how many ’live’ relationships I can bring, but conversations inevitably turn to social media.

With the opportunity that I mentioned earlier this has not been a problem, as the whole raison d’etre of having the discussion has been to utilise my social media abilities. However, when I’m talking to recruitment agencies then the social media angle has been different…in reality I have felt that I have to justify it. Whether it’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging or just a belief in social recruiting.

This is a shame. Most people reading this blog will have found it through a social channel, in fact the blog itself is certainly part of the social recruiting mix, yet in the wider recruitment universe there still seems  a scepticism, a distrust, a disbelief…it’s as if people are hoping the whole thing will go away.

The other day I was told by the MD of a recruitment business that he would believe in Twitter when someone could show him the ROI of a tweet. I said…

“I can’t show you the ROI of one tweet or of a series of tweets. But what I do know is that tonight I will almost certainly be talking about rock music with the European Head of Resourcing of a global financial services brand. I’ve been to gigs with him and I’ve been camping with him. I’m due to be going to a party with him and with the HR Director of a FTSE 250 company this weekend. I first connected with them both through Twitter. I could have been cold calling them for 2 years and still be trying to have a meaningful conversation”

It’s all about the conversation, about engaging and talking not just broadcasting and selling. Social isn’t the only tool in the box, and it’s not the only one I use, but it sure helps in building real relationships.

I’m convinced that the bubble will pop and more businesses will embrace it. Not sure if my bank manager believes it…but for now, he’s not asking!

Job Hunting in a Social World

As working life returns to normality after the long break, and a new calendar year is greeted with equal measures of hope, optimism and apprehension, I’m left to contemplate the realities of job hunting in 2011.

The social media community have been great. My post announcing that I was now actively seeking a new role was read and re-tweeted to such an extent that it registered my highest number of one day reads yet, and despite only being live for a couple of weeks it’s the third most read post of 2010.

I’ve had messages of support, offers of help and leads are being sent to me through LinkedIn and Twitter, for which I am very grateful.

But I’m also thinking…how has social media really changed the job hunt process??

Over the 2 years or so that I have been actively connecting with the wider HR/Recruitment community through social media channels I have read, debated, listened and thought long and hard about attracting talent, building talent pools, communicating the brand and creating a compelling employee proposition…and how social media enables this to be done. This is really about attraction and retention.

There are also new and emerging functionalities for job seekers enabling them to find out more about roles that they are applying for, and giving them different ways to approach the recruiter. But is this is a two way process?? My question is…

Who is actually acquiring talent socially?

Is anyone using social media for talent acquisition as a two way process?

You can tweet out a job, but can I tweet you an application?

I can ‘like’ your company profile, but would you ‘like’ my personal one?

How will the ATS process a different type of CV?

Ah yes…a CV. Every role that has so far been sent in my direction wants me to apply by sending through a CV. A few months ago I started a discussion on Twitter about whether recruiters would interview someone based on their social media footprint, without a physical CV. I then posted it on this blog

So for day one of job hunting in a social world I’m starting with a different kind of CV. This one.

You may have noticed a few additions to my blog. As well as my stream of thoughts and observations you can now…

Find out some more about me

Read my profile

Watch me being interviewed

Ask me interview questions

Read some other stuff I’ve written

Find out about some of my likes

It will evolve…it’s my Living CV. In particular the ‘Ask me Questions’ section will be updated continually…it’s there for anyone interested in knowing more about me, either potential interviewers or curious readers, to ask questions. Hopefully it will build into an ongoing interview page. What more does a potential employer want to see?

I don’t know how an ATS will process this.

I don’t know if someone would actually hire me with just this and face to face interviews to go on.

I don’t know if companies are really willing to hire for attitude and look at how you work not where you work.

But I’m going to start finding out.

I’ll be posting about my job search. I want to do it socially and I want to know who out there will hire socially.

For two years I’ve heard many talking the talk…I want to find out who’s actually walking it!

As always…let me know what you think….

It’s a Beautiful Noise…

I was watching a documentary about Neil Diamond on Saturday night and he was talking about his song Beautiful Noise, and how the idea came from his daughter listening to a parade and hearing all the different music which merged together to form a beautiful sound.

This resonated with me, as earlier that day I had been reading some really strong posts from new bloggers, and was really impressed with the way so many of the new bloggers, from different backgrounds and viewpoints, were reaching out and really making a difference, writing some interesting and thought provoking stuff.

We talk about white noise on social media, but when people dig deep and make this kind of effort to give us a different insight into our day to day interactions, then this is really a Beautiful Noise.

There were three people in particular that made a difference to me this weekend and I think they all deserve a big mention and a wider audience. Each one shines a different light on the power of social media and how it can be used to inform and transform.

Firstly, Alison Chisnell. She is an HR Director who came along to the ConnectingHR unconference and was clearly bitten by the social media bug. She has been a willing participant in the ConnectingHR community and is there for our weekly #chrchat. On Friday she posted about her efforts to get her company interested in using social media for communication. Not only did she write this on her blog, but she then posted the Pecha Kucha presentation that she used.

Wow! No nerves, no trepidation, just reaching out to the community with her thoughts and ideas. Jumping in and being part of the conversation.

HR professionals in the UK have tended to be slow adopters of social media, but with ambassadors like Alison I am convinced that the conversion will be quicker.

The second blog that really hit home was from @recruitgal – she is a UK Recruitment Manager with a major global brand and a new blogger. What did she write about? How not to do Cold Calls. A really informative and entertaining blog, and as a third party recruiter this is a great resource. Clearly she is frustrated by some of the approaches that she gets.

A potential client contact telling us how not to approach her. What more could you want? How else could you have got this information? I know that recruiters are not exactly welcoming of potential clients telling them what’s wrong with the industry, but seriously…how can you argue with an in-house recruitment manager telling you how not to try and do business with her. The blog is there…available through social media…no need to cold call to try and get a conversation.

Finally, and most heart warmingly, my friend Sarah Knight. Some of you may already be aware of her quest to climb Mount Kilimanjaro and raise money for a very worthy charity. Some may have even seen another UK HR blogger use his own blog to help raise £1000 in sponsorship for her…and have also read her blog of thanks. For me, her story epitomises everything that is good about social media connections, and how the willingness to engage and share goes way beyond trying to sell your latest product or service.

I have now met her twice socially, and spoken to her on the phone a few times. I didn’t know her before we connected on Twitter, yet there is little doubt that we are now ‘friends’. I encouraged her to start blogging about her quest, have offered my support when things were getting tough, and we are both part of a small Twitter community of people who have pulled together to encourage and inspire her.

So here’s my beautiful noise for this week…

Alison Chisnell – read about how she has tried to transform her company’s attitude towards social media – Practical ideas for becoming more social…and keeping it simple – and watch the presentation that she used – HR becoming social

Katie McNab ( @Recruitgal ) – find out what does and doesn’t work when you are trying to sell to a recruitment manager form a global brand – A cold calling masterclass…how not to do it

Sarah Knight – see how social media really works…if you work with someone who thinks it’s for geeks and nerds then get them to read it too – @theHRD…I thank you

Hope you enjoy reading them…let me know who’s making a beautiful noise for you this week?

The End of the Phone?

The way we communicate and interact is changing. This has big ramifications for business…Recruitment may never be the same again!

Let’s spin back nearly 50 years to a famous moment in music history:

“guitar groups are on the way out, the Beatles have no future in show business” (Dick Rowe, January 1962)

Mr Rowe (allegedly it was he) had just watched an hour’s audition from a new pop group and was clearly sure that although this new fangled beat music may be popular, it wouldn’t outsell the more traditional forms of popular music. It was all a fad. And he knew, because he was a successful A&R man who usually got things right.

Not this time!

How wrong could he have been?? 50 years later the group that had no future still cast a long shadow over popular music.

Of course he underestimated the power of the 16 – 25 age group to influence popular culture from the bottom up. **

What about phones I hear you ask?

Well, the great and the good of recruitment are lining up to get us back on the phone. All this new fangled Social Media may be popular but it won’t replace traditional forms of communication.

Well I think it will.

If Dick Rowe were a recruitment trainer today he would probably say: Social Media is on the way out, it has no future as a business communication tool.

He’d be wrong again.

The people we are now bringing into the workforce are from the first generation NOT to have had a landline phone as their primary communication tool. They are used to communicating through short messages…whether by text, IM, Facebook, Twitter or short mobile chats. When they organise to do something they create an event. They love social interaction but face to face is way more important than ear to ear.

Teens invariably start by using mobile Pay As You Go…not an arrangement that rewards long conversations.

Relationships are built in a very different way now.

Anyone who thinks they can bring a 21 year old trainee into the workplace and expect them to use the phone in the way we have always done for cold calling and relationship building are in for a shock. You may have been able to teach telesales…but not how to use a basic communication tool.

Ask any 18 – 21 year old how they interact with their mates and organize parties, evenings out or cinema trips and I think you’ll be surprised. But then you’ll understand why they may accept an invitation for an assessment day but not actually turn up. It’s not rudeness; it’s not a lack of interest in your opportunity…it’s just that commitment and communication happen in different ways now.

You can send a text, but then they’ve probably signed up for so many text alerts and updates that yours may not stand out.

You can send an e-mail, but then they probably won’t read it.

You can invite them through Facebook, but then they get invited to lots of things through Facebook.

You can ring, but you’ll probably be leaving a voicemail.

And even if you do get a message through, they won’t have a calendar or diary to put it in…only their mobile phone. Your assessment day will probably end up being the day after a mate’s birthday drinks and will gently slide from memory.

The times they are a-changing…the recruiter of tomorrow will not have the communication skills to build meaningful relationships over the phone, let alone make a cold call.

You can’t teach communication.

Business relationships of the future will be defined by the way people interact and communicate.

Like The Beatles social media and mobile technology offer platforms that will probably cast a giant shadow over how business communicates for the next 50 years.

It’s changing already. Those of you in the London area may have seen me on BBC London news a couple of weeks ago talking about how what you can say on Twitter could affect your job. One of their reporters read this blog and contacted me, asking if they could interview me. They didn’t call me and they didn’t e-mail me…they sent me a message through Facebook. And I don’t even have a link to my Facebook page on my blogsite.

I’ve written before how my favourite quote of recent weeks was the one from a Clay Shirky interview:

no medium ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds’

25 year olds are very indifferent towards the landline phone, e-mail, letters and long conversations..

The future workforce will dictate the way business ultimately communicates…and I’m fairly sure that it won’t be on the landline phone.

Let me know what you think.

** (To set the record straight, Mr Rowe eventually must have seen the error of his ways and signed a number of bands who would go on to dominate the music industry including The Rolling Stones, Them – including Van Morrison – The Animals and Tom Jones…will our industry thought leaders be similarly as visionary?)

Connect. Engage. Share. Learn.

Sometimes I need to go back to why I got on to social media in the first place…remember why I love it so much and am, quite frankly, a little obsessed.

For me Social Media is all about 4 actions:





And if you want a fifth, then it’s Entertain!

When I’m not getting those I get frustrated, I feel like I’m standing on a crowded platform with loads of people shouting at me. And I’m not happy. That’s when I want to rant.

Luckily I’ve made some great connections, a lot of whom I have now met offline, and I’m learning things from them all the time.

I did have a blogrant a few weeks ago about too many experts, too much white noise, and self promotion and broadcast replacing engagement. It was the way I felt at the time and I needed to get it down in writing.

Wasn’t the most popular post I’ve ever written (note to self…blog rants rarely are popular posts) but it was something I felt I needed to get off my chest. It’s my blog and I’ll rant if I want to.

Today I read three really interesting posts.

First up was an excellent blog from digital marketing expert Mitch Joel – The End of Conversation in Social Media – followed swiftly by Flip Chart Fairy Tales take on the same post Social Media – The End of Conversation.

From the titles it won’t be a surprise to learn that both conclude that there is little real conversation and debate in social media and blogs now.

Then there was Jessica Merrell (blogging4jobs) with a right old rant about the hard sellers, posers, underqualified, over-enthusiastic, and those that rely solely on their charm and good looks. I love reading Jessica’s blogs; I’ve met her a couple of times and found her to be sassy and smart and someone who tells it like it is.

It’s interesting when other people get frustrated to see how it impacts on their writing. Even in a rant there will always be something that gets you thinking. A view that can  make you question your own.

And what I’m thinking tonight is that more people need to get back and rediscover why they fell in love with Social Media in the first place.

Connect. Engage. Learn. Share…it’s what makes the platform work.

Expert, Texpert…Don’t You Know The Joker Laughs At You?? (Everyone’s on Twitter, Everyone’s a Star)

Whole forests have been pulped to enable Beatles obsessives to speculate/pontificate in print over the exact meanings of John Lennon’s lyrics to ‘I Am The Walrus’ – don’t worry, I’m not about to add any – however I do like the accepted explanation of the line

Expert, Texpert, Choking Smoker

Don’t you know the Joker laughs at you

The expert/texperts are all the academics, teachers and journalists who analyse and try to find hidden meanings in his lyrics, being laughed at by Lennon’s Joker…laughing because the meanings that they see just aren’t there?

There’s a lesson for social media enthusiasts in there somewhere. Every day more experts, gurus, consultants, advocates, enthusiasts, specialists, advisors and commentators spring into view with blogs, journal articles, tweets, newsletters, forum threads and speaking engagements, all passing on their wisdom.  Everyone has a view, an opinion to share.

Don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff churned out is useful, enlightening and entertaining…but the rest is self-promoting, attention seeking noise. Personal brand positioning by association.

Forests aren’t being pulped…but there’s a cacophony of white noise in the echo chamber.

My twitter timeline positively collapses under the weight of it some days.

On top of that everyone now seems to be consulting or advising. We have speakers, guest speakers, keynote speakers, facilitators, hosts, track leaders, live tweeters, bloggers…everyone sharing their thoughts and insights.

I followed a live feed from ILSHRM last week regarding a ‘speaker’ – oh how well the unconference set-up does away with the need for expert ‘speakers’- who appeared less enlightened than some of his audience, who were commenting, less than approvingly, on a live twitter feed. Good blog from Mike Vandervort summarises.

Now I don’t have a problem with this. Proper live speakers have always been able to handle hecklers and mischief-makers. Previously if you sat in a talk or presentation that you haven’t enjoyed, you used to have to wait for the coffee break to share your thoughts with people. Not any more. The immediacy of social media allows instant comment and observation. If you can’t deal with it…get off of the platform (in more ways than one!)

At this point I’ll hold my hands up, as clearly I’m not a complete outsider…you’re reading this on a blog, and I’ve been known to host the occasional tracks at unconferences, and live tweet. But then I’m a recruiter; I’m not really looking for speaking or consulting gigs. Although happy to oblige if offered, I’m really not trying to pass myself off as a consultant, adviser or speaker, merely voicing my thoughts on what I see, hear and experience.

For me, Social Media is really all about connecting, engaging, sharing and learning. It’s not about looking good, looking smart or looking well connected.

So where will it all lead?

An excellent blog from Trish McFarlaneIn Search of Normal – got me thinking. Are the social media non-adopters, naysayers, cynics and deniers really Lennon’s Joker, laughing at us for seeing something that they don’t think is there?  If they were to eavesdrop our online conversations would they just see a rash of self-serving, self-referencing micro PR releases masquerading as engagement? A ‘conversation’ where nearly 30% admit retweeting without even reading what they’re retweeting?

Maybe social media gives us all the chance to shine…remember what Marilyn Monroe said?

Everyone’s a star and deserves the right to twinkle

I’m just worried that the modern social media take on it is

Everyone’s on Twitter and deserves the right to be an expert

Let me know what you think…

Think Before You Tweet (A Twitter Recruitment Tragi-Comedy in 5 Parts)

It had to happen one day.

It’s probably happened before and I’m sure this sorry story will be repeated many times in different forms until recruiters finally understand the power of social media, and it’s use for informing and engaging not just name gathering.

This week it happened to a recruiter I know…

The Scene:

Candidate has an interview for an interim role with Company XXX. The interview goes well, and candidate is asked if they have any other interviews. Candidate says no interviews with companies, only agencies. Company XXX offers Candidate the job, a 6 month contract to start next Monday. Candidate says YES!

The Action:

Candidate goes home and logs in to their Twitter account. Candidate tweets to followers:

Got offer from Company XXX, hope to get one from Company YYY tomorrow. Exciting times.

Company XXX have people who monitor their mentions on Social Media. They see the tweet and pass to HR.

The Denouement:

Offer is withdrawn.

The Lessons:

1)      Recruiters…Get on Twitter! Find out if your candidates (and clients for that matter) are on Twitter too. If they are, follow them and engage with them. You need to know what’s going on.

2)      Candidates…If you are going to tweet about your interviews, and name the companies involved, expect your tweets to be read by both the company and the recruiter (in-house or 3rd party) because they need to know what’s going on.

3)      Clients…Be prepared for people to share their experiences of you on social media. In this case the client found out something that enabled them to act quickly. That may not always be the case. You need to know what’s going on.

The Moral:

Get on Twitter, or any Social Media! You need to know what’s going on.

Anyone experienced anything similar?