Monday, 18 October 2010

Blogging and Unconferencing – the HR Connection


   I wrote this article for an HR magazine to publicise Connecting HR, but it was (understandably) seen to be too promotional.

So I thought I’d run it here instead:


When I started blogging three years ago, there were just a couple of other HR blogs in the UK (Scott McArthur’s Rant and Rick’s Flip Chart Fairy Tales). There are now a lot more HR bloggers blogging, as well as even more HR people on Twitter, and I therefore find it’s increasingly important to create new opportunities to communicate and engage with the rest of the HR profession.

As well as those of us whom are blogging, there are also a lot more HR people reading blogs. This isn’t helped by the high proportion of workplaces which are still banning access to blogs and social media. But this situation is changing slowly, and most professionals now realise that they can get as valuable information from blogs as they can from any other source. No, not every blog is of a high quality, and not every post is going to be accurate all of the time, but you often find conversations moving across different blogs, in both their posts and readers’ comments. This flow of inputs and sentiments can often provide a highly informed body of knowledge on a particular subject or event.

The increase in all this activity can best be seen in the high attendance – getting on for one hundred people – at a couple of London based tweet-ups (or meet-ups for HR practitioners using and interested in using twitter and social media) recently. And more of this group and other people are going to be meeting at an unconference shortly.

This is an event, similar to a conference, but without all the formality and status differentiation between speakers and attendees that come with a traditional conference. In an unconference, everyone speaks and everyone participates. It focuses purely on what people often see as the best part of a conference – the informal, social connection over coffee, or the conversations sparked from random meetings in the hallway - without all of the power points and one way communication getting in the way.

One of the things we’re going to be talking about is the use of social media within HR (social recruiting, social learning etc), as well as HR’s role in supporting the use of social media within the business (enterprise 2.0). But we’ll be talking about a lot of more traditional areas, and other topical issues like the public sector spending review, too.

In fact, the key thing that distinguishes these events from other formats, and often HR bloggers from other practitioners too, isn’t that we’re interested in or are using social media, it’s that we’re interested in connecting; in developing trustful relationships; and engaging in really insightful conversation with others in our community. Of course, bloggers aren’t the only people interested in this, and there’s an open invite to the unconference for anyone who wants to benefit from the type of social engagement that this type of event provides.

For me, it’s just one more opportunity to communicate (by which I mean to listen as well as to talk) and to engage (by which I mean to develop relationships for the future, as well as learn things which may be useful for now).



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