In praise of ConnectedHR

I’ve spent the past couple of days in Amsterdam feeling completely on the fringes of things. I’m at HRTechEurope and whilst I am learning a lot and meeting some great folk I found the first day really hard. I didn’t know many people and those that I did know were understandably not really focused on babysitting me. Unlike say, the CIPD conference or L&D show I am surrounded by specialists in something that is on the boundaries of my knowledge. I love my tech, but my HR tech jargon is a little rusty and my knowledge of providers is such that I just mentally inserted the word ‘blah’ into quite a few things said to me.

‘Unlike blah our blah is a genuinely integrated blah that really enables you to blah’

‘Cool, thanks, nice to chat’

Last night I went to an event run by some vendors and I was the first one to arrive. I was standing on my own, in a club in Amsterdam and thinking I wanted to be anywhere but there. I ended up advising the sponsors on tech companies they should acquire based on my knowledge of vendors I’d seen that day. It felt awkward and I felt awkward. I was aware that there was a ConnectingHR event in London and I was missing out on seeing friends and people I felt comfortable about.

Then Lance Haun from the Starr Conspiracy came in and we got talking and he turned out to be a really stand out guy. We ended up chatting for about about 45 minutes and then Dwayne Lay  turned up and whilst I only knew him through Twitter he allowed me to slump next to him and chat if I adhered to a simple rules… no work talk. He was funny, welcoming and drank an incredible amount of Redbull.

Then Gareth Jones turned up. I’d never really had a chance to talk to Gareth in depth and I only really knew him because so many people talk fondly and positively about him due to being one of the ‘original’ social HR people and starting ConnectingHR. I always feel slightly like I’m hanging on the coattails of people like Gareth as they created something – whereas I’m just joining in at a later date. It’s easier to walk into something than to build it and I never underestimate that. Gareth gave me time, patience, laughs and an ear last night and made sure I didn’t feel left out. Another person who I hardly knew was taking time to make sure I was having a good evening. I went gradually went from feeling like an intruder to feeling more relaxed. Time started to stop dragging.

And then Mervyn Dinnen turned up and Merv spent about an hour (to be honest I was a bit hazy on timing by this point, it was a free bar) checking that I was ok, introducing me to folk and giving me advice. He had better ways he could spend his evening, but he chose to give me a hand.

The test of a community is how well it looks after its weakest members – and often those are its newest members. My evening went from this….


To this….


The difference is the people (and a free bar and battered gravy balls). And then David Goddin guided me back to my hotel via tweet.

3 thoughts on “In praise of ConnectedHR

  1. When you arrived why didn’t you just start dancing provocatively in the middle of the floor 🙂 You missed a great bit of craic at the Kings Cross event where nobody looked like their twitter feed photo, which I said……to everyone. There should be rules about that sort of thing, like holding today’s newspaper up in the photo.


    1. I stood unprovocatively at the bar. It was a free bar. It called to me. I’m sorry to have missed the King’s Cross event. I think the key to a twitter avatar is to pick your favourite photo from 5 to 10 years ago and then run it through instagram so you look like some idealised version of you (you are a rare exception in that yours is uncanny…). That’s what I’ve done for mine anyway.


  2. Welcome to the fold! Thank you for your words, too kind! I cant even begin to express the value I have found in my ever increasing social network and hopefully it’s felt reciprocated. It works because it’s personal first – our vulnerable selves are our first foot forward, not, thank god, are our business cards. I’ve been on a bit of a personal journey in the last 18 months which meant i’ve not been as present as I had previously been but i’ve been surprised at how strong those connections are, even through absence. There is power in those ‘weak ties’.

    However, I do completely understand where you are coming from. An observation now that im getting back on the grid is that it can be a bit cliquey and I don’t like that. The thing works because in the early days it was open and non judgemental and i hope this prevails, whatever the platform of choice.

    Great to meet you and spend time with you properly in Amsterdam. Here’s to a lot more mutual learning and discovery!


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