#TruLondon 3: A Quick Recap

by Etienne Besson on 5 March 2011

in Unconference

It’s already been two weeks since TruLondon 3 ended, so here are my thoughts on this excellent Unconference.

The Location

TruLondon 3 - February 2011 TruLondon 3 (TRU = The Recruiting Unconference) took place from Thursday 17 until Friday 18 February 2011 with a Masterclass Day on Wednesday. As always, Bill Boorman found rooms that were efficient without reminding us too much of traditional conferences where the croissants are the most important thing.

This time we were in the basement of the City Hotel in London with several conference rooms, an open space for spontaneous meetings and smaller sessions as well as its own bar.

And since we were so close to Brick Lane, we all got to eat our share of excellent curries.

The Program

The Masterclass Day was a bit different, but still very close to the unconference format. So instead of having a 3 minute introduction followed by a discussion, the official idea was to have a 15 minute presentation, a 15 minute panel discussion with 2-3 members from the audience, followed by 15 minutes of open discussion.

As I mentioned, the unconference spirit was already very present and therefore every track took a life of its own, which I took as a good sign ;-)

The two following days of “classic” TRU were filled with discussions, informal chats between (and sometimes during) tracks and trying to remember lots of new names.

What Makes a TRU Event so special?

I still think that you need to experience it for yourself to fully understand what a TRU Event is.

a) The People

Imagine 100 people from 14 different countries and 4 continents who really want to be at this (un)conference, are passionate about the topics and are happy to learn from others.

This means nobody complaining that they would prefer to be at the office but were forced to attend. And although many participants are used to being in the spotlight (agency recruiters or vendors much more than HR practitioners), everybody was just as much interested in listening as in talking.

It was also wonderful to see lots of people I had first met at previous unconferences. And although I had only occasional exchanges on Twitter and LinkedIn with most, I realized that the previous events had created a real bond. Now they were not strangers or online avatars anymore, but more like good friends I hadn’t seen in a while.

b) The Tracks

Of course you remember great track leaders. But just as often you simply remember a great track. A knowledgeable expert without active participants would turn into a presentation. So the best tracks are when many people contribute with their knowledge, questions, opinions and don’t hesitate to disagree. This is where you can learn the most.

Remember these people who ask questions at conferences just to show how clever they are? They would have been very unhappy at this event. Instead the real heroes at a TRU are not only the veterans who share their expertise but just as much the less experienced participants who ask interesting questions and contribute fresh insights.

c) The “Unorganization”

Although my first TRU was a great experience, I must confess that it was also a bit difficult. In Switzerland organization and punctuality are very important and we like to know exactly when something starts and where it takes place.

At a TRU event many tracks don’t start on time, you don’t know in advance where they will take place, the program is reshuffled several times per day and some tracks are even spontaneously canceled or replaced by new ones.

As I always saw this as a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and to learn to be “less Swiss”, I’m happy to say that I didn’t experience my 3rd TRU as disorganized, but rather as a wonderful living and breathing thing that takes a life of its own with Bill Boorman always managing to keep it under control. Nobody knows how he does it, but it definitely works ;-)

What Was Different

During the previous events many discussions focused on which tools to use with Facebook being one of the favorite topics. This time the focus was much more on how to achieve lasting interaction and engagement as well as employer branding.

There were also more tracks relating directly to HR. And while at last year’s TruLondon there were probably around 5% HR practitioners, I also met more HR colleagues this year.

Recommended Links

Bill Boorman’s Recruiting Unblog is the place for information about all TRU events. I especially recommend the following posts:

Martin Couzins is curating all the blog posts about TruLondon 3

My article before attending TruLondon

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