NACE 2010: A Thoroughly Social Conference

June 17, 2010

Private sector job growth slowed last month. The demise of big traditional conferences has long been proclaimed. Given these two facts, you’d be forgiven for thinking the annual conference of the National Association of Colleges and Employers might be a bust. But after an action-packed four days in Orlando, FL at NACE 2010I can tell you it was quite the reverse. And across the 93 knowledge sessions offered during the conference, the hot topic in many instances was how to leverage social media for recruiting.

The excitement was palpable as 1,600 employers and career advisors from around the globe gathered to connect and share ideas.  Roundtable discussions, lunchtime topics, and impromptu conversations taking place throughout the conference facility confirmed that NACE members totally get the importance of in-person networking at every opportunity, on both a local and international scale.

Wherever I turned, there was also a real thirst for information on social recruiting. One conference participant with whom I spoke shared that “Every single career services office right now is working hard to maximize the social networking skills of our students and graduates,” with LinkedIn being a core part of that push.         

During my breakout session on “Building Your Employment Brand on LinkedIn to Attract More College Students”, I talked about ways to educate your corporate recruiting team on becoming true brand ambassadors within the LinkedIn community.  The key foundation blocks remain appealing and compelling recruiter profiles, contributions to the LinkedIn Answers section, and thoughtful LinkedIn Groups engagement.

As with most conferences these days, the Twitter feed was aflutter, with an estimated 19% of conference attendees tweeting about events as they unfolded. I was told that this was almost double last year’s Twitter activity.  Just as LinkedIn has emerged as the global professional profile of record, so Twitter has become a key vehicle for establishing your voice.

All in all, it was a highly successful conference which demonstrated the equal relevance of old-school networking and cutting-edge social networking to those who care about college recruiting. It’ll be interesting to see if the balance is still there in 2011. There’s only one way to find out; see y’all in Dallas next year!