I attended my first SourceCon in 2008 and only have missed two since then. I have seen this conference grow and re-innovate itself into its present day state. With the addition of the Innovation Lab, this year the creativity and educational value of the conference just went up another notch. The Lab is dedicated to learning, testing and experimenting with technology products that can be used within the sourcing and recruiting process. When I was asked to moderate the Innovation Lab at the Spring 2017 conference, of course, I said YES!
The Innovation Lab was remodeled from its debut in 2016. This year five hours were dedicated over the two days of the conference for attendees to sit down and fully interact, demo, geek out and speak directly to the representatives of the technology products offered. In attendance was Amazinghiring, getTalent, Workable, Careerbuilder, Brilent, Clinch, Data Miner, and 1ntelligence (Facebook Search). We also had the honor of having Marvin Smith as well to sit with attendees and speak about his expertise in building talent communities and other professional advice anyone wanted to ask.
Leading up to the start of the Spring 2017 conference, I asked myself, how do I give value as being the host in the Lab? I am no expert user of the tools that were going to be represented nor do I have any association or have a paid subscription to any of the products. I looked forward to learning as well along with my peers, so I was pumped to volunteer for this role. As a veteran attendee and former speaker, I wanted to ensure that anyone who walked into the Lab was provided direction and be lead to what they were looking for with the products represented. I wanted attendees to determine and be guided to maximize their time and only interact with products that would be of value to them. Before the Labs were opened, I made it a goal to understand the different products that were in the room and introduce myself to the people representing the products.
So what happened?
As people entered the room, I made it a point to introduce myself and ask questions so I could help direct them to what would be the best tables to go to. To my surprise and enjoyment, the tables filled quickly, and I saw more people than I anticipated coming into the Lab. People were engaging with the representatives and sitting down with real hands-on demonstrations and explanations of how the tools work.
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Several times throughout the Lab, tables had up to 20-25 people eager to see the technologies in action. During and in between the labs I also spoke with the representatives of the products to get their opinions and feedback. I could feel they enjoyed sitting down and demonstrating their products in a more relaxed environment with a targeted audience. On day two of the Lab, Dean DaCosta joined as a host. With his expertise on a few of the products in the room, he sat down with several attendees and showed them how he uses the tools from a practitioner’s perspective. The energy of the room was high and interactive; it reminded me of why I attend and participate in SourceCon. The community comes together to share and support each other, and the Labs proved that point.
I am glad to have participated this year in the Innovation Lab. Personally, as an introvert, I was able to network and meet so many people as they ventured into the room. I also learned a lot of the products as well, so it was an added bonus for my experience at the conference. The value and energy of the room were well received by the attendees and the representatives of the technology products that participated. As I mentioned earlier, this conference keeps evolving, and with the Innovation Lab, I foresee that this will continue to get better and provide the attendees an added value to their agenda.
My recommendation if you attend future SourceCon conferences is to carve time into your schedule and spend some time in the Lab and have that face to face demo with products that you’re curious about and might add to your toolbox. Cheers to SourceCon on including this track and I look forward to seeing the lab progress and continue to increase the value of the conference agenda.