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March 12, 2013 / Mervyn Dinnen

The Cult of #TruLondon

Last Thursday saw the curtain come down on TruLondon7 (actually it was 8 for me if you include TruNora) and from last week’s attendees it was probably only me, Bill and one or two other stalwarts that have been at every one.

Jobsite weren’t sponsoring this time so I was able to experience the event purely as an attendee and track leader for the first time in a couple of years. And I was also able to see it through the experiences of first time attendee colleagues from the wider Evenbase & DMGT Group like Clair Bush (Broadbean) and Bethan Davies (RMS).

This event seemed quieter than previous ones. I’ll be writing about the takeaways and learning points elsewhere, so here’s what I think about TruLondon itself and how it’s evolved…and where it is now. All views my own, obviously…

The conversations may not seem to change but the people having them do.

There seems to be a (mis)conception that an event like Tru needs to push the boundaries; that the conversation constantly needs to evolve. There were tweets on the timeline along the lines of ‘are they still talking about…’ and regular Tru advocate and track leader Steve Ward had blogged about his frustrations in this respect.

I think we expect too much. Sure, there were a number of new topics discussed but then several tracks last week did contain much of the usual content. A lot of the key recruitment themes that usually get debated at #Tru – candidate experience, social recruiting, social sourcing, should recruitment be part of HR – were out in force again, most of them with the same track leaders as before, but the participants had changed. Different people were having the conversation and new people were grasping these concepts for the first time.

And with different people then the conversation is never quite the same.

It’s social.

There are people that I only get to see at #Tru events, and there’s a strong social side to these gatherings. Whilst we may have online interactions and the odd catch up at other events, it’s TruLondon that brings a group of people together twice a year to share thoughts and ideas and to generally hang out and have a good time. They come from the US and Europe, and further afield. Last week gave me the opportunity to meet Paul Jacobs for the first time…all the way from New Zealand.

It provides business opportunities.

Some of the people I spoke to go to other Tru events. Whether it’s the Nordics or the Baltics, Europe or Asia, there are quite a few people to whom these events represent a chance to develop International contacts, gain knowledge of upcoming global trends and launches, and spread awareness of what they do. It’s developed a sub-industry of its own.

TruLondon is like an academy.

Maybe the greatest strength of TruLondon is to introduce attendees to the conversations that bounce around the intersection of social media, recruitment and HR, sometimes called the people space. As I mentioned earlier, there are many who come to these events for the first time and who leave energised by the ideas they hear and the potential and opportunities that they bring to their businesses.

The unconference format of conversation and sharing over presentation and demonstration enables them to learn from others’ experiences in a wholly different way. It’s more personal and more informal, with everyone helping and giving of their time. It’s like a launchpad for the journey into social business.

It can be random and disorganised, and that can get frustrating, but it’s also part of the charm…you never quite know where the next idea is going to come from.

You get out what you put in.

If you’re going in the hope of finding potential consulting gigs or job opportunities then you may well be disappointed. It’s a global community thing and that is probably the most important point. There are opportunities to be had – I’ve written before how most of the attendees at the first events now have jobs in this space, me included – but they come from being part of a wider network. There are always new people to meet, and old friends to talk to.

The twitter stream may seem quieter that previously, as newbies aren’t quite up to live tweeting yet and the old timers have tweeted much of it before, but this shouldn’t be mistaken for there being nothing to say.

Whilst many of us have ‘moved on’ in terms of what we do in terms of social business, we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that there are many who are just starting.

The conversation has a way to go yet.

The most serendipitous moment for me came during a track on video when this tweet popped into my timeline. It’s from a political tweeter, so completely unconnected with the TruLondon conversations, yet somehow sums up why these conversations will be continuing for some time yet…

Facebook tweet

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4 Comments

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  1. cloudninerec / Mar 12 2013 9:21 AM

    Merv, I think this a fantastic summary. It’s easy to knock these things from afar – equally close up. In all the chaos, there’s actually something quite formulaic about TruLondon – and that is where it’s value lies.
    Word-of-Mouth plays a great part in attracting new audiences – there were at least 4 new people there who went on my recommendation – and yes I lead the same blummin’ track every time, but every time – in some way it inspires me, there are always great contributors with something else to give. I also found it a pleasure to meet Paul Jacobs, and many others.

    To clarify the point on my post – I was bemoaning the disproportion between `experts` and `case-studies` in agency-land. But yes, the link was worthy of mention – for an angle of the frustration at this kind of stuff.

    Great balanced post Merv.
    The current apt perspective is that thousands flocks to SxSW this time every year. For the content? Maybe. For the community & the craic? Absolutely.

  2. Mark Twining (@Mark2ining) / Mar 12 2013 10:30 AM

    This was my first Tru event and as a new member of this community I gained a lot from the various tracks and the people I met. I will certainly be returning!

  3. Joan Ginsberg / Mar 12 2013 2:18 PM

    I have never been to TruLondon (dang!), but you know that I have had similar experiences with events like HRevolution where I have had some of the same old, same old feelings. But your post makes me realize that there is very little in this world that doesn’t get debated, discussed, and dissected for years and decades before the change comes. It took Americans over 100 years to abolish human slavery, and almost twice that long to give women the vote. Thank goodness new people were still willing to keep having those repeated conversations.

    Nice post.

  4. Ivan Stojanovic / Mar 12 2013 3:40 PM

    Great post and the true spirit of the #Tru summarised already in the title: The Cult of #TruLondon!

    After a looong time this was the first #TruLondon I missed. I was looking forward for my first #TruStockholm this week, but will have to miss that one as well.

    #Tru is a Cult. That word probably describes it the best. And you meet people in the industry as the circus travels in different cities and countries.

    Topics do not change (much) but everything else does. New people come, and the old ones simply evolve. The social sites we talk about come and those that stay they evolve as well. A #TruLondon in fact has some 80% same topics every year. That’s a good thing. That keeps us on track. Or does it?:)

    Biz dev comes indirectly from the #Tru. I am the prime example of it. In the last 5 years I really don’t do much in my life that didn’t came somehow from the #Tru. And honestly those are the projects in my career that I enjoined the most.

    So in the tone of the tweet you quoted:

    “I’ll be on the next #TruLondon. I do not know hat will be on it and why, but I know I will be on it!”

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