I didn’t start with a great dream to create a global community. My background is 27 years in and around Recruiting. The last three years I have been running a consultancy and training business supporting recruiting businesses across Europe. When the market went quiet I ventured in to Linked In and began building a network from 50 or so U.K. Recruiters. Through the Good News Group Recruiters on Li this grew fairly quickly to 500. (I targeted to add a minimum of 10 connections a day.) The explosion really took off with twitter. I had always thought that there might be an appetite for some of my material amongst either American or Australian Recruiters, so I followed a few and grew the network further.
The turning point came with signing up with twitter, and through continuous tweeting and using directories like #twefollow I connected with more recruiters and discovered #blogtalkradio. I connected with @Animal and read in his bio that he hosted The Recruiting Animal Show. I asked to go on the show as a guest from the U.K. and despite his warnings over the reception I might receive I went on the first show, weathered the storm and got on well with most of the callers. I also gained quite a few followers from America and Canada. This introduced me to some new ways of thinking as those involved were largely independent recruiters which is a fairly unusual concept in the U.K. I was still at this time thinking I would release either a D.V.D. or webinar series once I had a big enough following.
After making a second guest spot on the Recruiting Animal show I decided to launch my own show to discuss the recovery and other good news on the back of the Linked In group. I quickly identified that the timezone difficulties meant that the best solution was to schedule 2 shows on the same subject on a Monday. I think it is important to publicly acknowledge (and he won’t thank me for it), the help and advice Animal gave me on how to set up and run the show. Despite what looked like some very public smack downs he is one of the most helpful networkers I have come across. Since the launch of the UK show we attracted a lot of listeners and callers from Australia and have launched another show for Australia and NZ. It’s early days but is being very well received and is growing in following.
I also spoke at the first Social Media In Recruitment Conference at the same time and began to connect with some real experts like Matt Alder, Andy Headworth (Who has since inspired me to start blogging in earnest) and Paul Harrison. I felt a bit of an imposter in this company as the social media amateur, but the interest in this event organised by Mike Taylor opened my eyes to the potential offered by the channels. I also realised that you need to combine off-line networking with your on-line activity to build real connections.
Building and being active in communities in the U.K. and North America simultaneously was really interesting as I discovered the benefit of different practices, thinking and market differences. I think the real potential from social media is being able to combine this thinking and I developed a vision to bring the recruiting cultures together and give exposure to some great thinkers in to new audiences, UK to US and US to UK. I was also guest blogging and posting in a range of blogs and groups which continued to build new following in and out of recruitment. I was also involved in a number of keynote speaking engagements on my white paper, “Tin Hat Strategy” on behalf of The Recruitment & Employers Confederation & The National Recruitment Federation. Increasingly I was being asked much more about social recruiting and social media in general. I was also becoming increasingly aware that my personal brand was becoming much bigger than my business brand. What struck me at this time was that when I attended networking events, 70% of the room had an awareness of who I was, much larger than I had experienced before. This demonstrated to me the real potential of a network, and increasingly social recruiting and social media strategy came in to the consultancy and speaking work I was being asked to do.
The part of my work I enjoy most is the Key Note Speaking and it became clear that America was the home of the conference with events around the recruitment arena happening daily. Following twitter conversations with Craig Fisher (@fishdogs) and Dorothy Beach of Dallas Fort Worth Texas Recruiters Network (DFWTRN) I agreed to speak at TalentNetLive, a local event set up to provide a low cost conference for those that did not have the budget this year to attend E.R.E. I had the closing key-note address and this gave me the opportunity to see if my thinking would really apply in the U.S, and if my style of presenting would suit an American audience.
At the same time I was intrigued by the talk around unconferences and bar camps, sounded like total mayhem and disorganisation. Recruitfest09 caught my attention, primarily because many of the attendees were in my network and the overriding energy and excitement surrounding it. After a conversation with Jason Davis and Geoff Webb I was again booking tickets to go to Canada, this time to lead a track.
In Dallas I learnt that my material largely translates globally (relief) and the importance of keeping pricing low and affordable to all by using corporate venues without hire costs attached. An affordable event makes sure you get a good mix of levels in particular those actively involved in recruiting rather than just the chiefs. I also realised that third-party recruiters formed a part of the attendee list but there were also plenty of corporate recruiters, H.R, technologists and other interested partys.
At the same time I got involved with calling in to #HRHappyHour on blogtalk radio and found that I had much in common with the HR Commentators involved in the show. We all ultimately want the same ends (maybe for different reasons), but this brought in an extra dimension to my network that I value and continually learn from.
Recruitfest09 was a whole different experience to anything I’d ever been involved with before. Open conversation around the subject of Phoenix Recruiting. Engaging directly with all the attendees and seeing the conversation take so many directions was a real revelation. I learnt so much more as a track leader from real practitioners that I knew we needed a similar event in the U.K. I get much more out of the active conversation at an unconference than I ever have at a traditional conference. (Geoff Webb has since become my partner in crime and is as passionate about #Tru as I am.)
On line activity through twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogtalk and other channels has changed the way events impact. An event is now as much about what is going on and being said and debated away from the event as it is at the physical venue. (Though it is always best to be a part of it in person.) Thanks to all these experiences, #trulondon was born and took place 8 weeks after Recruitfest09 at Barclay’s Tower, Canary Wharf on 19th November.
What started out of curiosity and time on my hands (courtesy of the recession) has now taken me in a whole different direction. This coming year I will be concentrating on #Tru events, White papers and an E-Book launch as well as continuing to advise a small group of companies on direction. I’m also looking to continue building the network by speaking at around 12 events globally. (I’m open to offers at the moment!)
Any venture can only be built on firm foundations, and my foundations are my network. Thanks for everything!
Keep being the ambassadors of your brand. Have a great Christmas!