I posted previously that Gareth Jones and I were being quite strict on admitting suppliers (including consultants) to the event. This is largely as a result of experience attending the London Recruitment tweet-up recently, which was great fun, but very full of other suppliers. I think what unfortunately tends to happen is that once it becomes clear that an event like this is going to be attended predominantly by suppliers, it becomes less likely that HR / Resourcing / other people working inside companies will attend.
I’ve got nothing against other suppliers, and no problem attending an event with other suppliers either. But I do think that to make the event as valuable as possible, to suppliers and in-company practitioners alike, I think we need to ensure a high proportion of internal people are there.
So for this event, I tried to set things up quite carefully, stating that we wanted all suppliers booking to be experienced users of Twitter and to identify at least one internal HR person that they would bring along. I also contacted some of the key people in HR social media, and a handful of in-company people that use it, encouraging them to sign-up before openly announcing the event – my hope being that this would lead to a broad variety of people booking from that point.
Once we had these bookings in place, we announced the event but without gaining the desire effect, as about 20 suppliers and no internal people signed up during the next day. Given our desire to keep some sort of balance in numbers, I then had to close the event for further bookings by suppliers. Despite this, we’ve continued to get new suppliers booking, meaning that I’ve had to cancel quite a lot of bookings – first of all suppliers who aren’t using Twitter; secondly, suppliers who don’t have any internal people to bring along; and thirdly suppliers who have continued booking after the booking’s been closed.
It’s not been fun, and I’ve clearly offended a small number of people (fortunately most of the people I’ve contacted do seem to understand my predicament).
So, what would (hopefully, will) I do differently next time?
I think more than anything, I’d set up separate ticket categories for internal practitioners and suppliers. I didn’t do this because I wanted to avoid any unnecessary separation, but of course as it’s turned out, I’ve just ended up emphasising the different roles anyway.
And if I could, I’d try to help more internal people appreciate the value of networking, regardless of the roles of the people they’re networking with.
What else? - I’d value your ideas….
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