FSA 2016 Summit: my first experience at a professional staffing conference. Despite my nervousness about small talk, it ended up being a fantastic opportunity to take everything in, learn and grow as both a professional and a person.

I’m still not much better at small talk (that’s going to take a lot of work for me to get comfortable with), but being able to meet clients face to face versus hearing their names in passing at work is rewarding.

Aside from the small talk and selling portion, I listened to a wealth of speakers on a range of topics related to staffing.

Dare to Be Different

The first keynote, my Dad and CEO of Haley Marketing, David Searns, was, in my opinion, the best (and no, that’s not my bias talking and no Dad, I’m not just saying that to get on your good side.) I mean it. His method of presenting made his talk engaging and interesting to listen to.

For someone that doesn’t work full-time with staffing firms, they can all start to blend into similar-looking agencies. When you dig a little deeper, that’s not the case. Every agency has something they stand for: values they hold; how they do business and why they do what they do.

If I saw these differences coming through in staffing firms sales processes, on their websites and in every part of their business, then I’d be more inclined to engage with them. The harsh truth — no one wants to work with a business that looks the same as another business that offers lower prices.

And let’s take a look at this can of worms David opened up: “NO ONE NEEDS TEMPS.” It’s true. But they do need someone to keep their well-oiled machine running. It’s another way of looking at staffing: what expertise can you provide your clients? What do they need that you can help them achieve?

Staffing and Social Media

The second keynote speaker, unfortunately, wasn’t nearly as intriguing to me. Partly because he spoke about the same stuff I had just finished covering in my Seminar in Marketing class this past semester. (He sounded a bit like my professor.)

But if you hadn’t just spent an entire semester studying social media, then you probably would have gotten more out of his talk.

Break Out of Tech Roadblocks

CareerBuilder hosted a breakout session titled: 5 Tech Roadblocks Hindering Your Staffing Success. What stuck with me most about this talk was the importance of being mobile-friendly, having a simple apply process, and reengaging with past candidates.

In fact, 57% of clients and 38% of job seekers will think negatively of you if you don’t have a mobile presence. And many will bounce off your site if they can’t quickly and easily leave their information.

Laws of Leadership

The last speaker I listened to spoke about leadership. Leadership is a VERB. I’ve always had a keen interest in leadership so I was excited to hear her take on the subject.

“Foundation holds the house together.” If there is a lack of leadership, then there will be poor performance. Here are three laws of leadership she learned and applied to her own life:

Law one: the law of awareness. In order to grow yourself, you have to know yourself. What are you doing well as a leader? What are you not doing well?

Law two: the law of intentionality. You must make an effort and a choice to become a great leader. It doesn’t just happen and you’re going to have to work for it. You want to achieve something? So then, what are you going to do about it?

Law three: the law of consistency. Review your daily habits and build in things that will help you grow. It’s the motivation that gets you going, but discipline it what helps you grow.

Ask Questions. Tell Stories. Listen.

Overall, the FSA 2016 Summit was a great experience. I witnessed selling first hand, talked to clients in person, and listened to a range of great speakers.

My biggest takeaways:

  • Small talk – ask questions, listen and make it about the other person.
  • Speaking – tell stories. The speakers who explained their points with stories about how the ideas actually applied stuck with me the most.
  • Selling – listen to the clients needs, work with them to figure out what they want to achieve, and suggest what they could do better. How can you help them reach their goals?
  • Leadership – make the choice to become a better leader and work on it every day until you get there, and then keep working.
  • Differentiation – sometimes it’s worth the risk to reassess and restructure your business to reach new heights. Apple, in their heyday, couldn’t have said it better: “Think Different.”

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