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….
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.