I’ve been thinking a lot about online talent communities lately, writing about them, interviewing various HR and recruiting practitioners and vendors about them, dreaming about them (yes, really), and living and breathing inside an online one in particular — the TalentCulture #TChat Community.

Most of talent community mainstream relates to recruiting new employees for a company, and now with a heavy social recruiting component (whose success emphasis varies depending on who you talk to), but they also form inside your companies with your existing employees, and their networks, both inside and out — a mass of mad-method circles within circles within circles that you only wish you understood (like a fancy Spirograph fractals).

There are of course many software solutions today that can help you slice and dice, but that’s not the point of this post. Neither is the fact that communities can be outside of the recruiting/employee primary circles and be driven more by social causes, political movements, shared professional and/or personal likes (and dislikes) and other less compelling social reasons.

One common three-dimensional element throughout all communities I’ve seen and heard and participated in is the fact that a community is only a community when those who belong collaborate, commiserate and connect with one another regularly for what can amount to infinite combination of reasons.

But the most common reality is that we usually end up with a two-dimensional recruiting model that includes a database of people where occasional, hopefully relevant company and job information is shared with them. Maybe its starts off strong, but it usually ends up abandoned with sourcing/hiring results varying wildly.

There’s just no true “community” inside.

In my sandbox analogy I wrote: Other kids may be running around and around the sandbox, but for those who are in it, for whatever time that is, it becomes an impromptu community where folks aggregate again and again. They’re not coming to the sandbox because you put it there. They’re coming because they want to play with the other kids and parents.

And recently in Chris Hoyt’s post (The Recruiter Guy) titled Communities with Intentionality, he wrote: The success of these groups and communities is not their existence, but rather how they thrive. Think of this in terms of a meeting held with your colleagues and peers.  How successful the outcome is doesn’t depend solely on having the meeting, but instead is related directly to what is accomplished in that meeting.  What is distributed, what is collected, what is shared, what is planned.

To play is to thrive and to thrive is to play.

Let’s explore that 3-D model. My fellow TalentCulture #TChat community managers Meghan M. Biro and Matt Charney and I are looking to feature a talent community, either one that’s just starting or one that’s still being developed, for an interactive business case competition at the upcoming HREvolution event in Las Vegas on October 2, 2011 (on the eve of the HR Technology Conference & Exposition).

The session the three of us are facilitating will provide the opportunity for exposure as some of the best and brightest minds in social recruiting and digital media work hands-on to develop a brand and strategy for the featured community.

So here’s what we’re looking for:

  • An employer brand that’s interested in building or is currently employing resources to build online “talent communities” for the purposes of candidate/community engagement.
  • Information about your target audience, existing strategy, metrics, etc. to include in the case study.
  • A one hour prep call with session facilitators.
  • Links to social profiles, blogs, career sites, etc. as applicable.
  • Usage of brand materials (e.g. logos, company name) in presentation and on related collateral.

And here’s what you get:

  • Exposure via the next #TChat radio show on 9/28, HRevolution, TalentCulture, and Monster’s network and properties (social and new media) for your brand.
  • Strategic think tank working to drive solutions and innovation for your brand by HR, recruiting and social media practitioners and thought leaders.
  • Finalized business case/strategic recommendations to be delivered after the session for your business purposes.

…in short, actionable advice & great publicity.

If you’re interested, please submit your information and let us know a little bit about your community to me, Kevin W. Grossman, at kgrossman (at) marcomhrsay (dot) com by September 23.

The winner will be notified by Monday, September 26, although we’ll definitely incorporate as much as we can into our session from everyone who submits.

Help us explore the 3-D talent community model at HRevolution. Thank you!