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Last year I keynoted my first conference outside of the US, a major HR technology conference held in Athens.  I had hesitated to accept such speaking engagements in the past out of a concern that my style of speaking, my humor (or what I think is humorous), and my Yiddishisms wouldn’t translate well for an international audience.

Naomi Bloom - Bloom & Wallace

International client work including speaking engagements, conference breakout and “ask the expert” sessions, and other international non-keynote roles always went fine, but Athens was my first “make or break” the conference international keynote — and it was a success.  I translated the Yiddish as best I could, acted out some of the more complex ideas (literally), and found the audience as welcoming and capable as any for whom I’d ever spoken.  So, sticking with the A’s, I’m going from Athens in 2011 to keynoting the HR Tech Europe Conference in Amsterdam in 2012.

If you’re not familiar with this young but rapidly growing conference, I should start by telling you that it has no connection to the granddady of such, the US-based HR Technology Conference.  LRP, the sponsor/producer of the US show, chose not to take their franchise beyond the US even though HR technology is global from a vendor perspective and in terms of the business needs of most buyers.  So some very entrepreneurial and experienced HRM conference producers/new media executives launched this European conference, and I’m honored to be a keynote speaker at this year’s edition in Amsterdam on October 25th.  And the same tips apply to getting the most out of your attendance at either or both of these conferences.

The title of my session is “What You Don’t Know Will Hurt You.”  From the conference brochure, here’s how I described this session:  ”There are great companies and great products/services in our industry – and then there are the others.  Whether it’s the unstated or deliberately misstated ambitions of vendor leadership, their cleverly obfuscated definitions of SaaS and cloud, the well-done demos that paper over well-known software flaws and gaps, or a customer’s own lack of preparedness and well-informed due diligence, the mismatch between customer expectations and vendor/product/service realities really does hurt the reputation of HR and their mission of driving business outcomes.  Whether you’re evaluating and enhancing your current HR technology, finally engaging in that long-avoided cleanup of your data, making modest changes in your HRM delivery system and its software/outsourcing portfolio, or contemplating a major overhaul in the face of both head and tail winds, what you don’t know will hurt you.  In her keynote, Naomi will take you on a journey, floodlight in hand, through the less-visited, but important highlights of vendor and software/services due diligence. She’ll enlighten you, using her well-known “killer” scenarios, on how to spot the strengths and weaknesses of vendors, and their products / services, with an eye on what will best meet your needs as well as on ensuring the least number of unpleasant surprises, or buyers’ remorse.  An educated customer may be some salespeople’s worst nightmare, but it’s the objective of Naomi’s keynote.”

So that more of you can afford to attend this important conference, if you use my code NBVIP15 when you register, the organizers will give you a modest discount on one registration and a larger discount if you register a group of four or more.  The Wallace will be traveling with me, and we’re extending our trip to enjoy all of the conference but also to do some sightseeing as this will be our first trip to Amsterdam.  If you’ve got touring suggestions for us, favorite restaurants or canal tours, please leave me a comment below.  I’ll look forward to seeing many new faces at this newish conference and renewing acquaintances with my European colleagues.