I went to the HR director’s Business summit and all I got was… thoughts on the summit, social media, community and the gimmick of the show.

The HR Director’s Business Summit is one of my favourite HR events: it hasn’t got the same buzz CIPD events get online (yet) but the atmosphere is just lovely. People always seem relaxed and happy to chat to strangers and discuss the seminars and presentations openly and honestly. There’s always feedback to be had and the staff (both the organisers, WTG and the venue, ICC) are incredibly friendly. The venue is great: the exhibition hall is spacious but neat and well maintained, the seminar rooms are well equipped and well sign-posted. The catering is top notch too. This was my third year at the event, which is in it’s 9th year and my 2nd as editor of HRzone.


If you compare the social media presence this year to last – plus note the huge attendance at the two main social media events, you’ll see the buzz is growing and the community is building. You can’t force these things and sometimes it appeared there were more suppliers tweeting than delegates listening but some of us – admittedly mostly speakers at the event – were able to cover it and it was good to see people not at the event taking part online.

The HR Director Business Summit in Birmigham really feels like it’s beginning to establish something. I’m always saying ‘it’s all about community’ and although the past three years have always had a lovely friendly vibe about them, it’s been feeling a little like it was lacking in that core community – the ones who return year on year. Of course no community of this sort should be ‘cliquey’ but having a bunch of people with something deeper in common than HR is a good idea for making those vital connections which build a community.

What the conference does really well is plenty of good speakers, a lot going on at one time (maybe too much, especially in the afternoon of the first day) great food and service. And a great crowd of delegates too.

This year Jon Ingham and myself were involved in hosting a Tweet up at the event. Aware of how few users were already usig the hashtag #hrevent, we thought we would have perhaps two interested parties! And Matthew Hanwell and Jon were running their social media based session on day two. In the event nearly 100 people crammed into the room.

I’d agreed to take the ‘Twitterversity’ or Twitter 101 for people new to Twitter and this was the majority of the room. Our idea of registering people on the spot evaporated as we realised how many people were interested: there would never be enough time.

So instead I gave my best tips for getting started on Twitter and an informal Q&A. I later saw a few people at the dirnks reception and even got some tweets from delegates who were taking their first steps.

I was also very lucky to meet Derek Irvine, star blogger of Globoforce and HRzone.co.uk regular. If you like his blog here, you are destined to love his book. One of the best things about the job is meeting members so it was an honour to meet Derek.

Also at the conference I interviewed Chester Elton: this time he’s talking about teams. And I spoke with Isabelle Rautinaud from Monster.co.uk about some exciting technology…

And finally, the bit you’re here for: gimmick of the show. this is when I celebrate the most eyecatching marketing in the whole exhibition.

We had three strong contenders – pick and mix from Durham Business School (which although a common occurance, get in because range was impressive: flying saucers), a whole mini-zoo from Paradise wildlife Park (including a very handsome bearded dragon) and Leap CR looking like svelte jellybabies and jumping out at anyone who would stop.

It’s got to go to the jellybabies: Well done guys 🙂 – and if you can tell me what Leap CR does (without Googling!) I might even give away a prize. Answers below…