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Chronicles from a Caribbean Cubicle

11/16/2007

On Using CaribHRForum


I recently had a conversation with a young professional who told me that she wanted to get find a job in Human Resources. I met her through CaribHRForum -- the online discussion group hosted by my firm, Framework Consulting.

It struck me that there were ways in which she and others were not taking advantage of the forum, and the opportunity it affords someone like her who was resourceful enough to learn how to design her own website -- (which she did quite capably.)

But I also thought of the wider membership of the forum, which at the moment numbers some 160 users. How can a Caribbean Human Resource professional, perhaps a member of HRMATT, HRMAJ, HRMAB or HRPAG use the forum to supplement their membership in these organizations?

I have been a member of discussion lists of all kinds since the mid 1990's, when they came into vogue. I joined the ones that I was interested in, and when the technology allowed anyone to create their own group, I jumped at the chance. Since then, I have created many such lists strictly for the purposes on enabling groups to communicate via email with each other with a stroke of the return key.

What newer members to lists such as CaribHRForum don't know is that the behaviour from list to list is more or less the same, and that the best way to take advantage of them is to decide what one wants from their membership.

Discussion lists enable an online community to discuss topics of interest in a way that is unique. The technology is simple. Email sent to a single address is immediately dispersed to everyone on the list, enabling a conversation across thousands of miles to take place in seconds.

For a dispersed group of professionals such as those in CaribHRForum, it is the only way that currently exists to pull professionals in the field together. The remarkable thing is that the cost of membership is absolutely free.

Typically, a discussion list is dominated by the talkative 10%, and CaribHRForum is no exception. These are the members who send out the most information, ask the most questions, and carry the debate on hot issues.

The majority of members "lurk" in the background -- following a discussion, but not actively participating.

My recommendation to users is that they decide what their goals are, and whether or not they include objectives related to the management of their personal brand.

Most users would say that they want to keep up on recent HR trends, while other would say that they enjoy the online companionship of their colleagues across the region.

For these users, merely lurking is sufficient.

For those who have a goal like my friend's however, more activity and planning is required. If a member is interested in using the forum for networking, it is best if they come out of the shadows and become known.

Two questions immediately come up. What should someone aim to be known as, and how can they use their membership on CaribHRForum for accomplish the goal?

The answer is simpler than the question sounds.

First, answer the question "How I'd like to be known is as ......." Possible examples are:

- an expert in recruiting

- a fan of the balanced scorecard

- a free spirit

- a practitioner with multiple interests

- a superb networker

- a great writer

- an HR professional who keeps up on current trends

- a job-seeker

- a young, hot talent

Whatever the goal might be, CaribHRForum can be used to accomplish it.

At the moment, some of the most influential HR practitioners across the region are members of the list.

My recommendation is that a member of the list who has a specific objective should think about how they can promote, initiate and engage in conversations about their topic of interest on the list.

Some simple activities include:

- asking questions to find others who share the interest

- bringing up related issues to spur on conversation

- inviting others who share the interest to join the list

- finding the latest research on the topic and sharing it with the list

These are some simple suggestions that can be implemented without major effort, but the return is tremendous, due to the kinds of people that are members of the list.

The investment might not pay off immediately, but over time, a user who invests the time and then suddenly requires assistance can turn to a group of friends, rather than strangers, for direct support. In this way, the forum can act as any member's safety net, and the more they invest in their relationship with the members, the more they can rely on their help when the time comes.


P.S. Pardon my manners -- all HR professionals are invited to join CaribHRForum by visiting www.fwconsulting.com/CaribHRForum

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3 Comments:

  • Is it that Caribbean people are not generally a talkative bunch online? Or can it be that they need to understand the value of forum networking? I think that you have done a good job at outlining the value of online networking.

    What about people that take networking to the extreme and spend all day "minding" the forums at the detriment of their businesses or jobs?

    It seems that in the Caribbean we are caught somewhere in the middle...

    By Anonymous Crystal Redhead-Gould, at 11/27/2007  

  • Francis,

    Of all the blogs, postings on CaribHRForum and discussions that have ensued, this blog has had the greatest impact on me, to the extent that it has "coaxed" me out of the shadows and into the light of "contribution".

    I have not actively participated in the discussions previously because I have been content to learn from the "years of experience" and "thinking minds" that contribute to the discussions. I hold most of the contributors in high esteem primarily because they are experienced practitioners and if I am contributing, I too would want to contribute at the level they do so as not to dilute the conversation.

    I recently completed my Masters in HRD at UWI but I am not yet practicing in the HRD profession. Actually at present, I am still in loans (Banking)and desperately need to start active HR.

    I therefore use the forum to vicariously get a feel of what practice entails. I am an avid reader of the evilhrlady (Francis introduced her) and the dialogue/papers on the Trinidadian Executives' experience in Ja. (a very important lesson on diversity management).

    My point in all of this - your article, Francis, hits the nail right on the head. There are many of us in the shadows, but the light that is emanating from the talkative 10% is illuminating our darkness. Shine on you all.

    By Anonymous Annbowen, at 11/28/2007  

  • Ann, Can you post your comment here also on CaribHRForum?

    By Blogger fwade, at 11/28/2007  

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