2023 TalentNet Conference
The 2023 TalentNet Conference was held on November 9th at The Palace Theater in Grapevine, Texas. The agenda was packed with informative and engaging sessions, offering plenty of opportunities to network with other talented professionals. It was a fantastic event, providing a platform to learn, connect, and
I have been attending this conference since its inception in 2009 when I was a new recruiter. It was the first conference I attended in this industry, and at that time, I was young in my career, beginning to grasp the concept of “networking.” This year, I was asked to speak. I am so passionate about this topic that I wanted to turn my presentation into a blog post so that others could read about the importance of Humanizing Loyalty in a Digital World.
I live in Dallas with my long-time partner, Will, and our chocolate Lab, Blu! Our 20-year anniversary is approaching in January. I’ve worked as a recruiter in DFW for 17 years, almost 16 of those with Odyssey, focusing on IT and international recruiting. I currently hold the title of the most recent Sourcecon Grandmaster. I am a Certified Yoga Teacher, instructing twice a week at a studio and conducting freelance corporate classes. And, as if that weren’t enough, I also work as an Independent Travel Agent! Phew!
I began connecting the dots, realizing that everything in business and, truthfully, in life, revolves around relationships. Long-term success in either domain demands lasting and consistent connections. Consistency fosters trust and cultivates loyalty. Whether it’s communicating with my candidates, establishing trust with my yoga students, or forging partnerships with hotels and travel clients, the goal remains consistent. Even being present at TalentNet, it’s all about authenticity in every action I take, forming meaningful relationships, not merely accumulating followers, but rather, adding value to others.
This leads us to our topic…
Humanizing Loyalty in a Digital World
Consider what would happen to these relationships if I were not myself but an AI entity, such as ZipRecruiter, an On-Demand yoga class, or even booking.com. As we all understand, in an online conference setting, there’s a significant lack of those essential “human” takeaways – resulting in diminished relationship building and a decrease in the establishment of loyalty. Let’s delve deeper into the concept.
Merriam-Webster defines loyalty as a strong feeling of support or allegiance, embodying the quality of staying steadfast in friendship or support for someone or something. Support, allegiance, unwavering commitment – as you hear these words, what or who comes to your mind? It might be a person, a religious belief, your occupation, or even a sports team like the Texas Rangers.
Now, let me pose a question to you: Is your smartphone more loyal to you than your best friend? Take a moment to ponder that. Your phone seems to know your schedule, your preferences, it seemingly eavesdrops on your conversations and offers suggestions that align precisely with your desires. Sometimes, it almost feels like it can read your thoughts.
But, the critical query remains: Can your phone, essentially an AI, truly earn your loyalty? It’s an intriguing thought to consider.
Reflect on your choices: How often do you opt for technology over direct human interaction? Are you more inclined to text rather than make a call? Do you find yourself skipping events to silently scroll through your phone at home? It’s crucial to be candid with yourself. There’s no predefined “right or wrong,” no labels of good or bad here. It’s merely a reflection on the decisions you make each day. Undeniably, the emergence of AI and the digital world has opened numerous doors. In fact, ChatGPT even generated the title for my presentation, which I found appealing. This technology undoubtedly enhances our efficiency, organization, and our evolution as humans. However, it is about safeguarding loyalty and preventing it from being compromised. I implore you to dig deeper into your personal connections, both within and outside the digital realm, assessing what drives your loyalty to certain relationships over others.
To embark on this journey, let’s take a glance back to a unique individual from a time before the world went “online.”
The Melba Mebane Inspiration
I hail from East Texas, specifically Kilgore, and I actively follow local news. This past summer, while scrolling through Facebook, I stumbled upon an article about a remarkable 90-year-old woman from Tyler who had just retired from Dillard’s after an incredible 74 years of service! Can you believe that? 74 years… it was mind-boggling. Her story captivated me, and I found myself reading the article multiple times, drawn to her authenticity, consistency, and the exceptional loyalty she held towards Dillard’s, reciprocated by her customers’ loyalty to her.
The story gained immense traction, this unassuming lady from Tyler became a significant news story, but why? In my view, Melba’s level of commitment is rare, especially in today’s fast-paced digital age. However, that commitment was deeply tied to and directly correlated with trust. Melba, Dillard’s, and her customers formed a bond of trust, fostering loyalty that only grew stronger over 74 years.
In essence, her customers were fiercely loyal due to the emotional bonds and personalized experiences she provided. They returned to her not just for products but for an experience that transcended any online shopping algorithm. Our world, however, is vastly different from Melba’s; it’s accelerated and offers numerous options. So, the question becomes: how do we preserve loyalty in the age of AI?
Loyalty in the Age of AI
Selling an experience that Artificial Intelligence can’t replicate poses a challenge. Instead of being replaced by technology, we should adapt and let it inspire our work. Like Melba’s era, the lasting impression is all about the experience, not just the destination. This is particularly relevant in the recruitment industry. For instance, a recent encounter with a former consultant, Gary, underscored the importance of authentic, upfront relationships. Gary specifically reached out to me for a job opportunity despite other calls because of the groundwork laid in our relationship. Though digital means facilitated our connection, building trust and loyalty in this age of AI demands more than just quick interactions. In this instance, the algorithms may have reached Gary first due to their speed, but the depth of our relationship superseded his interaction with technology. In this case, Gary’s loyalty was more inclined towards our rapport than his smartphone.
In the whirlwind of AI’s fast-paced world, it’s essential to take a moment to pause. But how do we integrate Melba’s mindset into our digital realm? It’s about slowing down and contemplating Melba’s principles in our daily human interactions. Keep her legacy in mind while navigating new technology. Strive to strike a balance, infusing technology with your unique human touch, embodying what distinguishes it as “Kristin” rather than just a mere bot. What I’m emphasizing here is that as we develop new tools and raise our expectations from technology, it’s equally crucial to heighten our expectations of ourselves as well.
Check out the article we reference on Melba Mebane to find out more about her story!
“Woman retires from Dillard’s after over 70 years of service”
I wanted to express my gratitude to Craig Fisher for yet another fantastic year at TalentNet and for placing confidence in me to speak this year! Craig recently published a book full of his case studies, titled “Hiring Humans“, which is highly relevant to my topic (as well as to many others discussed throughout the day). The central theme emerging underscores the importance of creating a balance between the “cutting edge and the classic” – between AI and human elements.