ESNanon – an unconference for ESN professionals

A repost from Rachel Miller’s All Things IC blog…written by me http://www.allthingsic.com/esnanon

Come and air your ESN successes and stresses

Who can you turn to in your contacts book to ask for confidential advice and guidance about all things enterprise social network (ESN) related?

esnanonI regularly get emails from people asking for my opinion, but what if there was a whole room of your peers willing and able to share their stories?

Well now there is, and here to tell us all about a shiny new unconference – that you’re invited to – is comms pro Paul Thomas @tallpaul75. Over to you Paul…

Come and air your ESN successes and stresses

Rachel has invited me to write a post on her blog, which is incredibly gracious of her seeing as it is her idea (and that of her The Big Yak compadres in The IC Crowd) that we’ve stolen, belt and braces!

Alex Chapel @achapel01, from KPMG, Kim England @miss_england_19, from Pearson, and I have recently announced our plans to hold an ESN unconference, #ESNanon. It’s being held on 21 March at Pearson’s offices on The Strand, London.

This is the first in what we hope will be a series of events dedicated to those who work in the ever-growing world of ESN.

So why an unconference?

PaulThomas

I have a love/hate relationship with conferences and networking events. Attend a good one and I walk away invigorated, a spring in my step, a song in my heart, ready to embrace the challenges I’ve taken away.

Attend a bad one and pretty much the reverse is true.

In most cases the conferences I attend are neither altogether good nor altogether bad, they just don’t do a good enough job of designing themselves around the most important people – their attendees.

Usually it’s plenary, coffee, plenary, lunch, workshop, coffee, workshop, close, networking drinks.

Coffee is interrupted by vendors selling you something you don’t need, lunch is the usual juggling of plate, glass and conversation which generally ends up with you not enjoying any of its constituent parts.

It was at one of these events where Alex and I sat at the end talking about how we’d not managed to have many conversations at all with our peers. The whole event had moved so fast that actual conversation had only played a very small part.

“What we need is an unconference” I said.

Quickly rewind…

I met Alex a couple of years ago when introduced by Euan Semple @euan. I was probably bleating on about how hard my job was proving, leading Grant Thornton‘s social business approach, and he suggested we meet.

Alex works for KPMG and collaboration isn’t necessarily the first word that springs to mind when you mention our firm’s names in the same breath, but here we were.

For our initial meetings, in the pub, were joined by a couple of others struggling with Enterprise Social Networks in large organisations. Thank God beer was involved!

What followed were a couple of downloading sessions where we shared the challenges we were facing and offered each other advice on how to overcome them.

Back to the point Paul…

#TheBigYak is organised by the trinity of Rachel, Jenni Wheller and Dana Leeson (You can find us @theICcrowd and read about the event here – Rachel). It was clear we needed a third Musketeer and so we spoke to Kim England at a networking event, briefly outlining the idea and agreeing to meet for coffee.

One coffee and one lunch later we had a rough plan, a name for the event (ESN Anonymous seemed to reflect the peer therapy sentiment) and a location.

And so now all we need to do is to replicate that peer sharing at scale. 70 people in one place, on a Saturday, willing to contribute, share and help each other through a wide range of challenges and conundrums.

We’ll follow the rules of the unconference, allowing our attendees to lead the agenda, employing the rule of two feet and making sure everyone leaves feeling they’ve learnt something or contributed in some way.

There’s so much to discuss including:

  • how to write the business case for ESN
  • getting buy-in at senior level
  • approach to implementation
  • launch strategies
  • big questions around proving long-term value
  • interpreting your numbers
  • plus managing your community.

I’m always blown away by the amount of egoless sharing that goes on between communications professionals and their dedication to doing a great job.

We’ve chosen a Saturday so we get the really dedicated. ‘give up my Saturday’ comms pros who will bring immense value to the room. All yours for a tenner (£10) and a Saturday!

So, if that sounds good…and come on, it really does…sign up at our Eventbrite page now and we’ll see you for a really good chat on 21 March!

Post author: Paul Thomas.

Thanks Paul. I have signed up to attend, babysitters for my toddler and newborn twins permitting, and hope to make it along. Hats off to Paul, Kim and Alex as I know how much hard work it takes to organise such an event, especially alongside the day job.

Even though one would assume there’s less work as it’s unstructured, I promise you that’s not the case! But the beauty of an unconference is that you get out what you put into it. Plus you should leave with your questions answered as you help shape the content.

Are you going to #ESNAnon? If not, you can follow the conversations via the hashtag #ESNanon before, during and after the event on Twitter.

You can get your ticket for just under £10 here.

Further reading
Want to find out more about enterprise social networks and using social media internally? See the links below for articles I’ve published about them over the six years I’ve been writing my blog for.

PR360_You can also discover what events are coming up for comms pros to attend globally by checking out my comms calendar.

Plus save money off PR Week’s PR360 event simply by being a reader of my blog – see my exclusive deal.

Here are the links:

Rachel Miller @AllthingsIC

First published on All Things IC blog 13 February 2015.

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Digital natives? Perhaps.

Let’s do some myth busting.

A trip to Amsterdam* means that I’m going to miss a Grant Thornton Executive networking event on social media tonight.

The event, put together by some of our Executives and trainees, is further evidence of the importance that we’re placing on understanding social media’s position in the workplace and should find an audience very much in touch with the changing landscape in which we all do business.

However, I think this is a bit of a myth.

The truth is that the partners and senior leaders in our firm will usually make the assumption that those new to the firm or coming up through the ranks are the experts in social media. They use it at school, at university, “they’re on it all the time!” And that is also, usually true.

But I also think that this ‘generation Facebook’ are very much in the same boat as our leaders. Yes they understand the nature of the platforms, but do they always make the connection between them and the workplace? I don’t know. What I do know is that we in communications and HR spend a lot if time talking about what this generation needs, that they want to work differently and won’t accept a world of Blackberries and email.

So that’s the question I put to tonight’s organisers – the business makes these assumptions about you, are we right to?

The landscape is still shifting, but some of our most active and connected users of social media for business are our partners and managers and their success stories with these channels are coming thick and fast.

From induction to retirement we should be helping our people to understand all aspects of social media and work, and something like reverse mentoring can help us get there.

However, we shouldn’t make assumptions about where our mentors sit in the business. Where social media is concerned, we all have lessons to learn.

Are we expecting too much from this generation? Should we make anything of the rise in popularity of LinkedIn among graduates? Is this just them conforming to a platform which sets itself up as THE business social network?

Interested to hear thoughts.

* I’m flying to Amsterdam this afternoon for HRTech Europe where I’m lucky enough to be speaking on Friday. Come along if you’re there and find out why we try to always put people before technology (but make great effort to ensure the technology fits, and works!).

State of Love and Trust

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I was having a conversation with a colleague about governance, rules and regulations and ‘thou shalt nots’ for our anticipated new social business platform yesterday.

We were discussing my previous employer’s Acceptable Usage Policy and what we may need to have in place for this new platform.

We decided on trust.

We trust our colleagues to behave appropriately, self regulate and in turn, they develop deeper trust and respect for the organisation and this leads to the platform being able to grow into what it needs to be, for all of us.

Plus, we only read policy if we think we’ve broken it…don’t we?

So that’s our starting point. I’ll update as we go along and roll with the challenges.

And…points for those who read this for the song reference alone.

View from the social coal face

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My Twitter stream is full of amazing social media and #socbiz related thinking. I follow the ‘experts’ and have in the past felt like I’m stumbling along in the dark, getting things wrong, or getting left behind. Maybe it really is rocket science…?

Some share articles I would find if I had the time. They cut through the mass of information and they serve up their view on what makes a business social. They’re the theoreticians – a lot of useful stuff, but not always very practical.

And then there’s others more like me. Some beating a strong path that I sit back and admire, others who constantly retweet the two user types above, but who aren’t necessarily sharing their own insight on a regular basis.

For the longest time, I worried about all of this. I was mindful that others were further down the road to being where I wanted to be, where I wanted Grant Thornton to be. It’s been dawning on me for a while now that very little of that matters and so I’ve decided the thrust of this blog will be about the real world issues working with social media in a major organisation.

There’ll be other stuff of course. Why would I want to bore myself to death? But if you want to hear about real implementation issues rather than theoretical ones, I hope you find something useful here.