Three Key Takeaways from the TechServe Alliance 2013 IT & Engineering Staffing Conference and Tradeshow

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I left the 2013 TechServe Alliance Conference with an extra pep in my step! This year marked my first TechServe Alliance Conference (here’s Leslie Vickrey’s recap of last year’s conference), although …

I left the 2013 TechServe Alliance Conference with an extra pep in my step! This year marked my first TechServe Alliance Conference (here’s Leslie Vickrey’s recap of last year’s conference), although I had heard what a motivating, informational and valuable three-day event this is for years from my colleagues and clients. Keeping with the Las Vegas reputation, we did not slow down for the entire three days! Kudos to the TechServe Alliance team for orchestrating sessions that opened our minds to new ideas, confirmed thinking on others, and allowed attendees to hear from both leaders in the industry and colleagues sharing their stories.

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  • 1. Powerful, Forward-Thinking, Inspiring Three Key Takeaways from the TechServe Alliance 2013 IT & Engineering Staffing Conference and Tradeshow I left the 2013 TechServe Alliance Conference with an extra pep in my step! This year marked my first TechServe Alliance Conference (here’s Leslie Vickrey’s recap of last year’s conference), although I had heard what a motivating, informational and valuable three-day event this is for years from my colleagues and clients. Keeping with the Las Vegas reputation, we did not slow down for the entire three days! Kudos to the TechServe Alliance team for orchestrating sessions that opened our minds to new ideas, confirmed thinking on others, and allowed attendees to hear from both leaders in the industry and colleagues sharing their stories. Highlights of the 2013 TechServe Alliance Conference One of the conference highlights for me personally was the opportunity to meet friends of ClearEdge face-to-face. We all lead such busy lives that a chance to join existing, past and potentially future clients and partners for the information-packed sessions and social opportunities throughout the three-day event was extremely enjoyable and rewarding. Certain messages presented at the conference really resonated with me, including the importance of attracting passive candidates, the expanding space of talent acquisition technology and ways to recruit today’s tech-savvy talent. And during the Women’s Executive Lunch, it was valuable to hear women from varying levels of leadership in the industry – from veterans to up-and-comers – discuss topics of importance like talent and client retention, performance metrics, career influence and marketing trends. In addition, the following three key takeaways left an especially lasting impression: 1. How you treat people drives behavior. The keynote delivered by Bill Strickland, president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation, silenced the main banquet hall as he spoke of his passion for believing in people – regardless of social status, race or ethnicity. He captured our attention with his graceful, simple messages about believing in people – realizing that people are assets and not liabilities. He encouraged everyone to look at the solution and not the problem – to fix things! His passion for the poor is remarkable. In fact, he said, “Don’t give up on the poor kids, they might end up being a commencement speaker,” referring to himself. I loved that line as an example of everything we hope for in our society – giving people chances to make a difference, improve their lives and the lives of those around them. His focus on treating EVERYONE the same — as it increases the likelihood of something good happening — and
  • 2. his encouragement to make friends in every town you visit really resonated with me. These simple reminders are extremely powerful…we just have to listen! It was an extraordinary presentation that was buzzed about for the duration of the conference. If you are ever in need of a motivational speaker for an event, I highly suggest Bill. He will move your audience. 2. Be the “Susan Boyle” of staffing. Eric Gregg, CEO and founder of Inavero, moderated a panel discussion with leaders of four staffing companies, including Consultis, CN-TEC, Hollstadt and the Addison Group, where they discussed challenges in IT staffing today such as: onboarding talent, attracting passive candidates and identifying “A” list talent, among others. The final message was the one that really stuck in my mind, though. The importance of surprising your clients, candidates and even your own employees – being the “Susan Boyle” of staffing. Susan surprised the world with her performance a few years ago on Britain’s Got Talent, and that’s why we remember her. So, things most businesspeople don’t see anymore, like hand-written thank you notes, a gift card out of the blue as a thank you for being a loyal client or candidate, doing what you say you are going to do – these types of small “surprises” can make a big impact. They can also contribute to building and maintaining a strong company culture, which is another key area of success mentioned by the panel. Isn’t it always a great feeling to work for a company that surprises and delights? Really, it’s the simple things that take no time at all, but tend to get pushed back on the never-ending to-do list – yet go a long way in raising levels of satisfaction across the board. 3. Want prospects to know you exist? Make at least nine “touches.” And most people give up after five! Jack Daly won the award for most energetic and attention-grabbing speaker. Wow! His messages were simple, but so significant. With clients being the most important focus since they give you business, they refer you to more business and they market for you – we need to be sure we are touching them regularly with value-add information. “If your touches are all about you and your company, you’re blowing it,” said Daly. Touch prospects and clients with industry information and ideas, subscribe to industry magazines, attend conferences like TechServe, look for ways to find information that is relevant to their business and communicate it in a variety of ways. Personal visits (what he called “belly-to-belly”), emails, voicemail, social media – use a variety of communication avenues to be in front of your clients and prospects. Make sure you also learn as much about the person as possible – according to Daly, if you bond with someone on the personal side, you trump
  • 3. the competitor. He also talked about the importance of creating competitive advantage – don’t say the same thing as everyone else. It’s common to hear general things like we’ve got experience, we have knowledge, we are competitive, we will make you money. Instead, articulate why a prospect should choose you and your company over competitors with key differentiators and proof for each of them. If you can prove why you are a better choice with specificity and uniqueness, your odds are much greater. Daly also recommended a few books worth reading – including: The Go-Getter by Patrick Kyne and Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding the Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni. Based on Jack’s incredible presentation, I’ll definitely be picking them up! This list of key takeaways could really go on and on. The conference was packed with numerous valuable sessions and opportunities for conversation. I welcome you to share your key takeaways in the comments section below. Also, TechServe members can log on to TechServe Connect, the private social networking site for TechServe Alliance members to keep the conversation going about Conference topics, as well as other areas of interest. Here’s to a great finish to 2013 and a successful year ahead!