I am not an expert on Social media. I update my Facebook status a lot (especially when drunk) and I follow a couple of blogs. I have a LinkedIn account and I registered on Twitter a year ago because Stephen Fry said it was a good idea but I have never used it. I am a HR Professional and over the past few months I have noticed conversations about the potential uses and benefits of social media in the workplace are getting more and more frequent but the use of social media in my workplace is not. So when the opportunity arose to attend the unconference I jumped at it. The jumping quickly turned to blind panic when I started receiving emails about using hashtags to follow conversations on Twitter, contributing content ideas on the Yammer Platform, and preparing a Pecha Kucha! So it was with a sense of trepidation that I arrived at the Spring, donned my name badge, grabbed myself a coffee to keep my hands warm in the practically arctic conditions and started asking people what I could expect. I couldn’t find anyone who had been to an unconference before and no-one seemed to know what the day would bring, people had come on good faith, and were excited to be a part of something that promised to be a little bit ahead of the curve.
Here are the ingredients.
2 inspired individuals with an idea about bringing together some like-minded people to talk about the use of social media in HR. 60-70 people who liked the idea. 1 dilapidated bed factory part way through a transformation towards a new life as a community centre, 1 grid, 1 adhesive glue spray, 70 sharpie pens and several pieces of coloured card. An assortment of strategically placed chairs, 4 infra-red heaters, 1 acoustic guitar, a very tasty vegetarian lunch and an endless supply of tea and coffee.
Here is the magic part.
It was impossible not to get what you wanted out of the day. You input your ideas, challenges and questions into The Grid which ensured that it included sessions that were of interest to you. You chose which sessions you want to join. Each session was an informal discussion group where ideas were debated, experiences shared and questions asked of each other by each other. Finally if that didn’t give you what you wanted you were encouraged to remember ‘the law of two feet’ which gave you the freedom to leave any session at any time to join one that did.
The outcome was best described by a talented and brave musician who sang:
“Although the temperature felt minus twenty,
Conversation opportunities were plenty.
It’s been a long time since a day has past so fast
I feel like connections made today will last.
I listened to Gareth and Jon and everyone and I heed ya!
What a great exploration of HR and Social media!”
Having experienced my first unconference and I can’t wait to get involved with the next one. The format was spot on, the venue was perfect, the people were right up my street and the opportunities for learning unavoidable. Through the wonder of Twitter (which I now understand thanks to a handy video posted by someone I now follow) I am part of a network of forward thinking and influential HR people.
Okay so I didn’t come home with a bag full of free pens and a selection of multicoloured branded lanyard straps to hang my corporate ID badge on but in the brave new world of social media who needs a pen? Instead I left with a booty of much greater value, a connection to a growing community of inspiring people and a broad understanding of the tools, techniques and challenges of social media. My eyes were opened to a multitude of potential uses beyond communication and recruitment to recognition, knowledge sharing, peer to peer learning, process mapping, colleague engagement and employer branding. I learnt from the generously shared experiences of others and I was inspired to return to my organisation and confidently start some conversations about how we can embrace social media in our workplace now.
What would I change? Only the temperature!
NB: Today’s post comes from the winner of the attend Connecting HR in my place competition – Val Garside 🙂