My first visit to London in 2010 was a packed experience. Great conversation, learning and networking all made for a memorable event. The first TruLondon adventure came at a time when my life was changing at about the same pace as the perspectives on social recruiting. Warp speed!
At that time, the topics/tracks were heavily focused on what I would consider to be theory. The majority of us, all buzzing with the thrill of endless possibilities, felt compelled to share our grandiose ideas and explore the seemingly endless new theories on how all this “social media stuff” would impact our profession.
Observing track leaders squirm and get defensive when questions of proof or hard metrics arose became a bit uncomfortable. From an enthusiast’s perspective, I felt bad when I witnessed these situations. However, it was also apparent that we needed to do a better job of focusing on results instead of shiny objects.
Enthusiasm can serve as the spark that ignites the innovation fire – fueling conversation and creative exchanges. However, as advocates, speakers and bloggers within the social recruiting arena, I feel that we owe our audiences a certain level of humility and candidness around how effective tools can be. Just because it’s cool doesn’t mean it’s useful.
TruLondon helped define a trajectory for what I would pursue in the year that followed. The conflict I observed led me to pursue clearer definition around the topics I was interested in. In my mind, it was no longer acceptable to evangelize “social” approaches unless we intended to narrow in on business applicability, success factors and… wait for it… ROI.
Apparently, I wasn’t alone.
Over the next year, each new conference seemed to increasingly focus more and more on the hard data.
In June of 2010, I attended the Jobs2Web user conference in Minneapolis, MN. I had the great honor of meeting Marvin Smith from Microsoft who truly inspired me through his approach, demeanor and candid take on practicality within our realm. Doug Berg, Chief Recruiting Geek at Jobs2Web, opened a number of doors into how I could be pressing forward in order to further define progress.
Additional conversations with Ryan Estis, Brett Minchington and Heather Polivka outside the conference cemented my desire to dig deeper and gain clarity. All in all, some pretty awesome contributors to learn from and I feel privileged to have met them when I did.
My first large public speaking opportunity after this shift came at the ERE.net Social Recruiting Conference at the Microsoft Headquarters in Seattle. After some long discussions with David Manaster on the topic, it seemed like the perfect venue for launching into this new line of thinking. In September of 2010, I delivered a presentation entitled Authentic Employment Branding. By that point, I finally had enough metrics and examples to show progress. Favorable site visit patterns, involvement from employees, examples of tools we had used and a number of success stories.
No one had all the answers at Social Recruiting and it made for an excellent conference. Speculation wasn’t the expectation and it seemed that a healthy level of accountability within our realm was being established.
My “conference life” slowed down quite a bit with the arrival of Sophie. Kelly and I focused on being parents. It’s been an amazing journey!
The time away was very positive for me personally and professionally. It allowed me to focus and develop out ideas that I had wanted to dedicate time to. Kelly and I both moved away from producing content and instead experienced the consumption angle. You can learn a lot when you’re just listening and observing. With the litmus test of proof and applicability in mind, it was quite interesting to see how everyone approaches thought leadership within the realm. In some cases, I was pleasantly surprised. In others, I clearly got the sense that snake charming is a new hobby within our space.
Fast-forward to TruLondon 3 this past week in London.
I arrived to London at 6:00 AM on Wednesday. The hotel wouldn’t let me check in, so there was a bit of a coffee intervention. At about 9:00 AM, the Master Sessions part of the conference started up in the basement of the City Hotel.
From the get-go, it just felt like this was going to be good. The best way to describe what I sensed at that moment was candid accountability. Matt Alder gave us an overview of the Employment Branding evolution through his personal experience. It was funny and quite interesting. My second confirmation that this was going to be good was when he invited a panel up to discuss the topic. The debate was heated and questions weren’t candy coated. There were disagreements, waving hands and all sorts of great questions. Loved it!
As the day progressed, again and again I saw the same thing happening. People were engaged on a different level – they wanted real answers and none of the previous year’s speculation. In the off cases when unfounded assertions were made, the audience reacted with push back. I presented on Culture Branding at about 3:00 PM.
The after hours socializing carried this same level of intense debate and discovery. As I looked around our hotel bar, it was obvious that the conversations weren’t about to stop at the end of sessions. (In picture: Jacco Valkenburg and Arie Ball)
Day 2 of TruLondon (Day 1 of the Unconference) brought about even more debate and conversation. Again, it carried all the way into the evening. With a UK Recruiter sponsored social gathering and some social lubricant flowing, the networking was intense.
It’s been said plenty in the past, but one of the greatest benefits of attending these events is getting to know the fellow attendees. The relationships inevitably turn into future opportunities for collaboration. (In image: Sarah White, Meghan Biro, Maren Hogan and Craig Fisher)
On Day 3, I spent time in tracks ranging from Cloud Computing to Facebook Ad Strategies… even one on Twitter Assassins by Bill Boorman. All in all, another great day with some intriguing conversations.
It’s quite refreshing to see that TruLondon evolved so much in a year. I’ll admit, I was a bit concerned that I would be walking into another speculation-fest and that possibility wasn’t very appealing.
Bill Boorman brought together an amazing group of contributors from across the globe. With his endless energy, he managed to orchestrate an event that delivered on its promises and pulled in one of the most talented groups of people I’ve had the privilege of spending time with. China Gorman even went so far as giving him a new title. 😉
Excellent job Bill!
Also, special thanks to everyone who so freely engaged in conversation!
Now for my top 5 favorite memories from #TruLondon 3
1. The moment Glen Cathey realized that there was actually a crack house in the neighborhood. He suddenly became a member of the paparazzi and it was hilarious! Here is a picture I titled “Stairway to Crack Heaven” – I shot it from my room.
2. When Craig Fisher and I got in an all out debate about SEO in front of Arie Ball during a cab ride. Apparently she thought we were seriously at ends over it until Craig informed her that we do that all the time.
3. Taking the Tube for the first time and visiting Texas Embassy Cantina with Maren Hogan. Thanks for making sure I didn’t stay in the hotel all day Maren!
4. Having breakfast with Bill Boorman the morning after the conference ended. I think I fell in love with English Breakfasts and it was great to reflect on the conference experience with Bill.
And, last but certainly not least…
5. When Kelly called in on Facetime with Sophie. I got to introduce Sophie to most everyone and, of course, see my beautiful wife 😉 Thank you Kelly!
So, that’s the story. Great year for TruLondon and rumor has it there is another one coming in September. Perhaps it’s time to check on flights to London…
Any great memories from the trip? Any key takeaways worth sharing?
Here are some additional pictures from the trip!
London Eye and Carousel
Craig Fisher and Maren Hogan