5 Reasons Why I’m Pumped for Talent Connect 2016

September 20, 2016

There are more conferences in the talent acquisition industry today than I can ever remember, covering what seems like every recruiting or HR topic under the sun. I’m convinced that soon we will see a conference about how to attend conferences in HR and recruiting (joking but not joking).

While I wish I had the ability to go to all the conferences (except the really silly ones), it’s simply not possible. I have to pick and choose which ones I attend every year. But, the one constant for me has and will always be LinkedIn Talent Connect.

I have gone to every Talent Connect (except the first) and each year has surpassed the prior one for me on every level. This conference is not only a massive learning opportunity, but is also my favorite industry networking event and has undeniably had a major impact on my career in many, many ways.

That’s why I’m pumped that Talent Connect 2016 is just around the corner and I wanted to share the top reasons why I’m so excited (and how some of these reasons relate to my favorite movies...I couldn't resists a few references). Let’s roll.

1. Making new connections and reconnecting with industry all stars

One of the best parts of Talent Connect for me every year is getting to reconnect with the friends I see too infrequently and meet new people. At what other conference do you get to meet, hang with and learn from some of the very best there are in our field?

Over the years I have had the pleasure of getting to know such industry heavy hitters as Matthew Jeffrey, Lars Schmidt, Dave Hazlehurst, Charlie Milne, Chris Hoyt, Jon Stanners, Ryan Cook, Stacy Donovan Zapar, J.T. O’Donnell, Leela Srinivasan, Bryan Adams, Johnny Campbell, Robin Erickson, Jeremy Roberts, Jill Larsen, Macy Andrews, Dina Medeiros, Lou Adler – I could literally go on and on at least twice (Like Jimmy Two Times in “GoodFellas” – one of my favorite movies) about all the wonderfully brilliant and incredibly engaging people I have met over the years.

Even better, I get to learn from these new connections, share war stories and have a beverage (or five) after the day’s events. I am always thankful for the new friendships I make and the existing ones that happened solely because I attend this conference every year. Unlike GoodFellas, nobody is getting “whacked,” but like GoodFellas we are a group of people bonding over common interests (just not the whole crime thing).

2. Learning the ways of the recruiting force from the wisest of masters

Much like Luke Skywalker in “Star Wars,” Talent Connect is all about choosing your own path in what you want to learn and how to help shape your career path in HR and talent acquisition.

The team at LinkedIn has created different tracks for different size companies and even different roles and industries. I love the fact that I can pick and choose what sessions are of interest to me – and each year the choices get more and more plentiful. For example, this year they will have some really interesting new tracks, like skill-building workshops to expand your professional horizons. These sessions will range from how to manage stress to effective listening to thinking about how our body language affects our career potential. 

And every year there are also some huge LinkedIn product announcements too – kind of like Darth Vader telling Luke (Spoiler Alert for the 5 people on the planet who never saw the movie) that he was his father. If you want to get your learn on and get some big, exclusive product announcements too, then Talent Connect should be your jam. As Vader himself said in the movie “You are not a Jedi yet”….

3. Inspiration and a reminder why we do this gig in the first place

It's so easy on days that we feel overwhelmed by tons of open reqs, upset hiring managers or (insert recruiting problem here) that we forget about why we even chose to do this gig in the first place.

This reminds me of the movie “The Natural."Roy Hobbs, the main character of the film, has a pure love of Baseball that permeates his whole career journey with a goal of being “the best there ever was.” In a highly competitive market, both for recruiters and for the candidates we are looking to connect with, we all have to have a “love for the game” and a drive to be the best too.

This conference always makes me remember why I love doing what I do in the first place – whether it be from hearing amazing success stories or sharing some battle scars too.

Also, Talent Connect always has one or two “inspirational” type speakers on the main stage every year that really bring the passion and the heart. One memory that stands out to me was watching Erik Wahl and his “Art of Vision” talk a few years back - a talk that has continued to resonate with me. And this year, Gerald Chertavian from Year Up, will talk about how we must break down barriers to strengthen the talent market and engage young talent. 

Talent Connect always help me refresh and re-energize my battery, and I leave the conference feeling like nothing can stop me.

4. A mix of amazing speakers from outside of talent acquisition

Talent Connect really delivers the goods (and emotion) with some of the best “non-industry” speakers you will ever get to see at any conference. You get a true “who’s who” in politics, entertainment and business who are amazing to see live.

At Talent Connects past, there have been people like Magic Johnson, Andy Cohen, Senator Corey Booker, Arianna Huffington and many more. This year? Some dude named Richard Branson. Sorry – but you just do not get those kinds of speakers at any other conference in our industry that I can think of. Pretty epic stuff.

I consider myself very fortunate to have seen these amazing and inspirational people speak and it is really cool to learn from the best - both in and out of our industry. Career lessons can come from all over the business world. In a nod to my favorite movie of all time (The Karate Kid), Cue “You’re the Best Around.”

5. Last but not least, it’s a party

While learning and speakers are always great, the nights at Talent Connect are pretty spectacular too. From parties at Disney Land to great bands, food trucks galore, race car driving games in actual NASCAR cars, people in plastic balls (literally) floating on pools, Karaoke live bands, the party being painted as it is happening by awesome artists, and all the incredible food you can imagine they have your nights covered and then some during the conference.

The days are packed with learning and networking goodness, and the nights with “Bill and Ted” level excellence – party on dudes. Throw in the fact that you have been making new friends and connecting with people from all over the world and that makes these nights even more spectacular.

If you can’t tell by now, I love this conference and have enjoyed going year after year. Lately, with my business Red Pill Talent, I have had the added pleasure of going with clients who had never been before. It is always really fun for me to see the conference from their perspective and introducing them to a lot of the friends I have made over the years and seeing them make their own new relationships and connections.

Personally, I truly believe I would not be able to do a lot of the things I have done in my career without this amazing conference. I have spoken every year but one, and the one I did not speak I got the awesome/amazing/why in the heck did they pick me privilege to host the first ever Talent Connect Live stream (career bucket list moment).

This year, I'm speaking again and am pumped for my session (shameless plug). I truly believe outside of every reason I listed above that I would not be able to do what I do today without these opportunities and the connections and learning I have made at Talent Connect.

In closing, you should go to Talent Connect or - if you can't make it - watch the live stream. As Darth Vader himself said – “It is your destiny."

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