Is the HR online community a clique?

On more than one occasion, I’ve had people mention to me that they felt the HR online community was a clique. Apparently there are “cool kids”, you know, the ones who get invited to all the cool parties (conferences) and get all the attention (blog traffic). I’ve also been told that it is really hard to get into that “cool kids” group. When I hear stuff like this, I can tell that a good deal of frustration, and maybe even hurt feelings, is behind it. In the end, the HR online community is actually fairly small, especially when you consider how many HR professionals aren’t involved. It’s a little discouraging to think that people seeking a place to belong online feel left out. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I got involved myself. But you know what, I’ve come to the conclusion that yes, the HR online community is like a clique and that’s not a bad thing.

Here’s why:

1. Popular doesn’t just happen. One of the biggest mistakes you can make about a “thought Leader”/”cool kid”/(Insert another meaningless blogger title here) is to assume that their popularity just happened. That’s crap and anyone who has dedicated hours, and I do mean hours, of their time building their social media presence and reputation will tell you, it doesn’t just happen. Your content has to be good, well-written, and informative. You have to be entertaining, market yourself, make connections, and build an audience. Yes, luck does come into play too, but if someone is popular, they are working hard for it.

2. You get what you give. Related to my first point, popularity doesn’t just happen, and sometimes the problem isn’t that people are ignoring you, they don’t know they should be paying attention to you. When I hear from someone that they don’t feel like they can get a foothold in the community, one of my first thoughts is, “How much are you putting into it?”. Social media is an investment. You contribute time, ideas, interaction with other members, and eventually you can start reaping the rewards of your involvement. Give people a reason to want to get to know you and read what you have to say.

3. Remove your ego from the situation. Let’s be honest with ourselves and just admit that part of why we blog is because we all have some ego involved. We all want people to like us and think we are clever. Yes, there are a million and one other reasons why we blog but… Come. On. So when you dedicate so much of yourself to blogging and you aren’t getting as many comments as that person, or don’t get as many RT’s as this person, it can hurt. So learn to take your ego out of the process and enjoy what you are doing for itself.

In the end, cliques happen, but they happen for a reason. People get close to each other, build off each others ideas, and naturally want to work with each other more and more. To someone new to the HR online community, it can feel like you can never break into that inner circle. But that isn’t true at all. I have seen bloggers established long before me fall into obscurity and newbies blast past me in popularity. So instead of worrying about the “cool kids”, focus more on yourself and what you can give. You’ll be surprised by how fast those feelings of being left out go away.

12 Responses to Is the HR online community a clique?

  1. Terrence Seamon September 13, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    Shauna,
    A few years ago, before the boom in social networking, I mentioned to a group of HR executives that I was a blogger. You would have thought I had just burped in church. They were aghast. “Why would you do that?” was the general reaction.

    Fast forward to 2010, and things have changed dramatically. Now there are dozens of HR bloggers all around the globe. At the same time, I believe that you and I and the others are still something of a “rare breed” for HR. We are “on the edge” in a field that tends to be conservative.

    My recommendations? Keep on writing. Stay true to yourself. And promote the heck out of your blog.

  2. Susan Howard September 14, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    HROnline is just like HR in real life. HR people tend to gravitate toward other HR folks who they feel know more about HR in general or a specific HR discipline. The last thing an HR person wants is to be part of a group that has less knowledge about HR topics than they do because they will not learn or grow. This is one of the reasons I don’t participate as much in our local HR Chapter, so many of the members are new to HR and in turn they provide no mental stimulation. So if some people feel left out, maybe it’s because they haven’t sharpened their own skills enough to be included in the cool group. Just my opinion. I apologize if I sound like an HR snob that is not my intention.

  3. Holly MacDonald September 15, 2010 at 2:42 pm #

    Good one Shauna – while I write from Canada and we often suffer from the inferiority complex when comparing ourselves to “the States” – I can tell you that it is indeed work to be in any community.

    Blogging, in particular, should also be about yourself. If you are writing for yourself, as a reflective practice or to document your thoughts as a joural, it doesn’t matter who reads it.

    Stats I’ve read are that 90% of people in an online community lurk, 9% participate and only 1 measly % actually create content. So, if this is true, then it is common for any community to seem like a clique. HR ain’t no different.

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