The big Yak – unbelievable unconference

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Yesterday I attended The big Yak, an unconference hosted by @theICcrowd at eBay’s offices in Richmond.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the day and given it was a Saturday, a sacred day to all parents of young children, I was open minded but still slightly guarded.

I guess I’m pretty jaded by corporate events whose agendas are always led by their sponsors – sessions designed to sell under the thin veil of authenticity. But jaded is not how I left The big Yak.

Right from the start this was different. The friendly Yak at the station giving directions set the tone for the day. Nobody was taking themselves too seriously and the conversation was open, friendly and (shock horror) ACTUALLY useful!

The ‘un’ bit of the conference meant we set our own agenda, talking about the things we wanted to talk about and voting with our feet to decide on sessions we attended. Throw in a genuinely friendly networking lunch and plenty of decent coffee and the day was a great success.

And the sponsors were just that, supporting but never the main event.

Theme of the day seemed to be one of confidence, with many of the sessions touching on not just the blurring line between comms and marketing, but IC people having the confidence to stand up and be counted.

But that’s another blog post.

The success was, in no small part, down to @theICcrowd, Rachel Miller (@AllthingsIC), Jenni Wheller (@jenniwheller) and Dana Leeson (@danaleeson) who organised the whole thing.

Following the ladies on Twitter is the reason many of us were there. (The power of Twitter never ceases to amaze me). We were there because of the community they are creating, and the value of that community to us as comms professionals. There’s a lot of noise out there, so when you find something of value in amongst all the mail shots and phone calls, it’s worth investing time into. Even on a Saturday.

So well done to @theICcrowd and all who participated and hopefully we get to do it all again next year.

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