Do you know what astounds me about HR Pro’s sometimes? The fear to connect at networking events.  I’ve noticed at many conferences, monthly meetings, and networking events, the self-proclaimed “People-Persons” sitting at a table of 10 (via monthly chapter meeting) not saying a word.  Or  getting comfy in their “phone-zone” (hiding behind their phone).  Or coming 20 minutes late to a meeting just to “miss” the pre-meeting networking.

I know because a long time ago I was that person.  And I’m a talker.  And not  shy.  But what I didn’t have was the confidence I was competent enough as an HR pro to engage on HR topics.  Really I lacked insight and courage and it was to my detriment.

I can say with great confidence now the tipping point in my career success was when I embraced networking even when it was hard.  Even when I thought I couldn’t contribute.  The reality is everyone has ideas to offer and knowledge to gain.  Everybody feels self-conscious about their abilities and inabilities.  It’s the ones that aren’t afraid to admit they have much to learn and relish that learning process…yes, even through networking…who find success.  At least in my opinion.

Also, what’s really cool is when you connect on so much more than HR.  I have two examples:

Example One:  I was at a Birmingham SHRM meeting, alone.  It was a meeting where they were soliciting committee volunteers and had a “volunteer - fair “during the networking hour.  I wanted to skip and just go to the lunch. But I didn’t.  Walking around alone I came across the “Communications Committee” booth, where I saw a guy, the BSHRM board member and VP of this committee, also standing alone, waiting for an awesome volunteer (or poor sucker) to talk to him.  Well, I was the poor sucker – I mean awesome volunteer who actually did join the committee.  Why?  We both loved pop culture, we both thought there was something to this “social media thing”, we both liked music, we thought HR was more than just policy, and we both thought BSHRM could use some dynamic folks like us.

That Committee VP was Kris Dunnan executive level HR Pro who went on to become VP of Daxko, founder or Fistful Of Talent and the HR Capitalist, a highly respected and sought after national HR thought-leader, speaker and ultimately an owner of Kenetix.   The same Kris Dunn who convinced me to be on the BSHRM board, asked me to be a FOT contributor and recommended me as his successor as VP of People at Daxko when he left to start Kenetix.  My career changed.

Example Two:  Now that I was involved with BSHRM, I attended an evening networking where there was an obligation for board members to attend.  Of course there was wine so no one had to twist my arm.  While at the bar getting a glass I struck up a random conversation with another attendee.  There, again quite randomly, we began to talk about music where we quickly realized we had a lot in common.  We decided we would get together and start playing.  That gentleman was Doug Dean, CHRO of Children’s Hospital in Birmingham, one of the US’s best Children’s Hospitals.  Not only have we been playing in a band together for years, but he is now a friend and HR mentor too.

You can read pages, upon pages of material on the importance of connecting in an electronic world and the importance of networking for your career.  And it is all good stuff.  But speaking from the heart, connecting is so much more important because humans must connect to feel whole.  It’s in our DNA. Even for the introverts.

So, #SHRM attendees – do not miss out on an opportunity this big to meet people outside your circle.  Take a lesson from a gaming company called Valve. Here is  Valve’s Employee Handbook (pg 22).

Method’s To Find Out What’s Going On

§  Talk to someone in a meeting

§  Talk to someone in an elevator

§  Talk to someone in the kitchen

§  Talk to someone in the bathroom

It is really that simple.


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