My #TruLondon Journey : from virgin to the sponsor’s lounge

Can’t believe it was only 15 months ago that I made my way through the security procedures at the Barclays tower in Canary Wharf and was propelled skywards (was it 25 floors, 30 floors?) to the first #trulondon.

Have to say that there was certain nervousness, even apprehension…there would be all these people that (barring a couple of old colleagues) I only knew as avatars and 140 character soundbites. Of course there was nothing to fear…as soon as the conversations started it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to sit in a group and listen, absorb, chip in and generally immerse yourself in all this social learning malarkey.

Flip forward three months and, my #tru virginity having been well and truly lost, I went to the next event to help lead tracks and generally meet a whole bunch of people from the UK, US and Europe and talk all things social and recruiting. And what a great event it was…ideas and conversation flowing, new friends made and a real sense of community helping to overcome the odd…er, shall we say…organisational blip ;o)

Twelve months later and it’s time for #trulondon 3. The event has grown and developed, gaining a whole life and culture of its own. This time round there is a dizzying array of tracks and masterclasses, live streams and webinars, with some truly influential thought leaders attending.

And my role has changed too. Having gone from virgin to veteran, I shall now be attending the third event as a representative of the platinum sponsor Jobsite. Like many who were there back in November 2009 for the first event, I have now moved from eavesdropping the conversation to being part of it.

When I wrote a blog previewing #trulondon2 I drew parallels with the Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol and the ‘All Tomorrows Parties’ series of events. The Velvet Underground comes to mind again thinking of my journey. A (still) highly influential band, it is usually said that whilst not many people bought their first album, most of those who did then started their own bands, hence starting an art rock movement. Maybe the first #trulondon has proved to be  a similar catalyst for the advancement of social media in recruitment?

Can’t wait for the show to start!

(My previous #trulondon blogs :

Do Recruiters Really Get Social Media?

TruLondon and the Power of Twitter

Networking, Learning but still got them Talking Gen Y Blues )

HR in a Social World

It’s nearly time for ConnectingHR, the UKs first HR unconference!

I’m really excited about the opportunity to get together and chat about HR & the Social Organisation with a range of HR professionals, Internal Comms practitioners, Learning & Development specialists and a really great bunch of the sectors’ suppliers, consultants and journalists.

The need for organisations to embrace social media, and for HR to take the lead, has never been greater…




Communication (Internal and External)




Customer Service

Business Development

Relationship Building

…just a few of the areas in which getting social can mean getting ahead and creating real value for the business, its employees, customers and suppliers.

If anyone is in any doubt that now is the time to have this at the top of the HR agenda then just have a look at this article ‘Ten Tips on Social Networking Policies’ which I read today.

Published on a specialist site for small businesses it uses the language of control and suppress…tips such as Enforce Restrictions and Monitor Usage. How about Take Action and Protect You Business!


(Finally, at point 9 we do get Remember the Usefulness of Social Networking Sites! Yay! At last…mind you, they’re only referring to LinkedIn, but it’s a start!)

Seriously, it’s time for HR to take the initiative, embrace the social and set the AGENDA…Not the policies!

Not on their own though…our recent research showed an increasing overlap between the HR and Marketing functions, with social media as the enabler.

So much to talk about and share!

And if you’re still thinking about coming along to ConnectingHR and haven’t taken the plunge yet…it won’t ONLY be about Social Media! We’ll also be talking:

The HR Knowledge Exchange

Talent, skill gaps and learning

Performance reviews or what?

Driving Performance in the Age of Austerity (post spending review)

To name but 4!

In fact we’ll be talking about anything you want…the agenda will be all attendee driven! You can still join in – sign up here

Really looking forward to seeing old friends and meeting new contacts…and remember, if it’s your first time at an unconference…

The Key to Social Learning is in The ‘Social’ not just The ‘Learning’

Should Schools Go Social?

Whilst we wrestle with the various dilemmas, opportunities and pitfalls of social media policy in the workplace, I’ve yet to see anyone advocate a banning of mobile phones. I appreciate that we’re in much more enlightened times…mobile phones are no longer an accessory; they’re an extension of one’s being, they’re a vital networking and communications medium.

So it was with some surprise that I learned from my son that his phone had been confiscated by his school because he had it switched on during the day. He wasn’t looking at it during lessons, but between lessons…he wasn’t phoning or texting, but reading a text that he had received. Seems that the school has a zero tolerance policy towards mobiles…they must be switched off on entering school and not switched on again till outside the school gates.

15/16 year old boys being, well…15/16 year old boys, no-one switches them off. They leave them on silent in their pockets just in case a mate or girlfriend (hell, never a parent) sends them a text.

Now, as part of this policy, the punishment is confiscation until a PARENT comes to collect the phone. This makes me unhappy, because:

1) it’s like I am being punished as I now have to take time out of work to go pick it up, and

2) as well as a communication device, the phone is there for security in case he is in trouble/needs help

Once this irritancy had subsided though, I started to think of a wider issue. We are all talking of embracing social learning, and undoubtedly mobile learning will follow, so no doubt this will eventually be adopted by schools…yet surely if we want to instil good learning habits in tomorrow’s workforce we have to start those habits today. Shouldn’t schools be leading the way?

This is, after all, our teenager’s medium. Their platform. Social networking is in their DNA!

Half the boy’s in my son’s class have a smartphone (it’s an all boys school, in case you’re running away with the idea that there is a separate rule for girls!), so theoretically they could do some homework, read notes or generally catch up on missed topics whilst on their journey to & from school, or whilst on the move in some way.

I have typed this blogpost on my iPhone on the train journey home and sent it to my wordpress account…couldn’t my son do likewise with homework? With work becoming mobile, why not schoolwork? Why does it have to be done in a classroom or at home?

There is a school intranet, so why do boys have to go home, type their notes/essays on to a computer and print them off to hand in? Why not post it into a teacher’s file set up for individual pieces of work? Why not make the intranet into a social network? Give them the opportunity to share thoughts and information with teachers and each other in a way that will prepare them for the brave new business world of the future?

The world is going social.

The world is going mobile.

Continuous learning & development, upskilling and evolving, will be crucial for tomorrow’s workforce…wonder if anyone is brave enough to start preparing them now.

Gotta Get Myself Connected…

Make sure you’re connected
The writing’s on the wall
But if your mind’s neglected
Stumble you might fall

I’m not sure that Stereo MCs foresaw social media when they wrote those lyrics, but one thing I am increasingly sure of is that if you want to succeed in business in the future, you’re going to have to be connected.

There’s little doubt that Social Media, Social Networking and Social Recruiting increasingly impact on my day to day working life…if I’m not communicating with people through social media channels, then the chances are that I’m engaged in a discussion about those channels…whether face to face or over the phone.

Very soon we’ll have the second ConnectingHR event. This is a meet-up for HR people using or interested in social media, and is co-organised and co-promoted by Courtenay HR, the company I work for. It will be a landmark event; I don’t think I’m giving too much away if I say that it will be the launch pad for the ConnectingHR Unconference, the UKs first specialist HR unconference…and an event where the attendees will have a unique chance to create and shape the content.

These will be just two of many events surrounding social media, and organised and promoted through its various platforms, which I will have attended this year and I never cease to be amazed by the energy, passion and momentum that each one generates.

At each event I have met intelligent, interesting and committed people who are there to meet and share, learn and inform, and do it all whilst having a great time!

If you’ve ever doubted social media, or its ability to connect people and facilitate learning and information flow, ideas and creativity, sharing of thoughts and opinions, then I urge you to just join in and go along to unconferences, networking events or workshops and experience it all firsthand. There are 3 things you’ll find:

1)      It’s the ‘Social’ that makes the media, networking, learning or recruiting so powerful and enriching

2)      Everyone you meet will be exactly as you imagine – one thing about social media is that the platforms and channels really do work when everyone is just themselves

3)      You will learn something! More knowledge is available through these channels that you could imagine!

What are you waiting for? Jump in and get connected…the writing’s on the wall!

Is The Key To Social Learning in The ‘Social’ not The ‘Learning’?

Learning…what is it? How do we do it?

If people say ‘I didn’t learn anything’ what do they mean?

There’s a debate going on now in the UK started by a blog from Michael Carty on why e-learning is seen as ineffective…seems that studies from CIPD and XpertHR showed that whilst e-learning is on the increase, not many think that it’s effective.


Are we so conditioned to the classroom style teaching of our youth that learning is something we do when we’re sat in rows taking notes whilst someone tells stuff we don’t know?

Are we saying, in the words of Kurt Cobain…Here We Are Now, Entertain Us (or rather,  Enlighten Us)

Unconferences such as HRevolution are one aspect of Social Learning, and for a lot of us they are the one of choice at the moment.

And I’m wondering about this because I’ve been reading some post–HRevolution blogs and realize that from a learning viewpoint maybe this event didn’t completely work for everyone, some writers didn’t really learn and in some cases didn’t hear anything new.

I’ve also read that some of the topics tend to get covered at other HR/Recruiting unconference type events now…as we become more regular attendees will we need constantly new topics to engage us, or just different people to discuss them with?

So far in my relatively short time attending unconferences, I have certainly:

–  Picked up information that I didn’t know before

–  Heard people’s views on subjects/topics/issues that made me think about them slightly differently (the topics, not the people)

–  Been able to talk, discuss and debate within small groups in a way in which I have gained information, knowledge and wisdom, as well as (I hope) passing on some of my own thoughts

Yet most of this has come when I have been part of a small group, or a break out group of 2 or 3…a bit like focus groups really. When there’s been a larger track, with many attendees, I’ve noticed a tendency to look to the track leaders to inform, direct, answer questions and provide commentary and insight…yet shouldn’t they be facilitators helping to keep the conversation flowing and on track? A bit like focus group moderators who ensure that everyone gets to join in the conversation and get heard.

Maybe if we are to get maximum benefit from Social Learning, especially from our unconferences, networking and crowd sourcing then…the answer may well lie in getting Social before you can get to the Learning

…I’d love to know what you think?