The HR Juggler

Archive for the ‘Networking’ Category

networking

Networks are funny things, aren’t they? So often people bemoan networking and how hard it is to forge a connection with people, whether that is on a personal or a professional level. Too often there is a cynicism of wondering what someone else may want from you, or the fear of finding yourself stuck with someone who can’t resist giving you a hard sell for their products, or simply not finding the other person of interest. Too often all those potential pitfalls are genuinely the reality.

I’ve learnt a few things about networks over the past couple of weeks. Firstly, that you should build one when you don’t think you really need it and instead spend time figuring out how to contribute to others in your circle that could benefit from any expertise, support or help you can offer, however small and insignificant it may seem to you. The chances are, it won’t feel that way to whoever is on the receiving end.

Secondly, social media can be an amazing place to forge connections with people. Sure, you have to engage and be yourself, be inquisitive and share experiences, but when it works, it is so powerful. The HR and professional networks I have made through Twitter have formed into strong friendship in many cases and unstinting, consistent, solid support in countless others. ConnectingHR really did transform my professional network and continues to do so and boy, am I grateful!

The third thing I’ve learnt about networks? When you have a good one and when you need it, it’s amazing. Thank you to all of those people in mine who have been extraordinarily generous with their time, resources, contacts, offers of help and thoughts. It is hugely appreciated.

My blogging hiatus is over….as of today, I am back in the game!

 

The first time I heard of ConnectingHR was as a hashtag on Twitter. At that point, I didn’t even know what a hashtag was, far less how to use one or what ConnectingHR involved. What did become clear though, over the next few days and weeks, was that this is a collection of HR  (and some non-HR!) people who engage with each other on Twitter and other social sites, meet up regularly in person, reach out to and welcome newcomers and are not only adept at understanding the power and possibilities of social media, but incredibly generous in sharing their knowledge and expertise.

The first time I met anyone from ConnectingHR was at the first unconference. Faces became familiar, friendships were formed, my concept of networking and HR conferences was transformed and a journey began which led to me starting this blog the very next day. In the 18 months since then, the community of ConnectingHR has grown and evolved and the unconferences and tweet-ups continue to be a brilliant way of getting to know people and starting to understand a little more about how social media can impact and influence HR and business as a whole. It’s also worth noting that most mainstream conferences which talk about social media in HR invariably include individuals from ConnectingHR as speakers, panelists and presenters…and most are rather more pricey than the actual ConnectingHR unconferences ;).

The next ConnectingHR unconference takes place on 16th May 2012 and you can buy a ticket here. Even better, if you are new to all this and haven’t been to an unconference before, I have a free ticket to give away on my blog. Just leave a comment at the end of this post, and I will choose a winner at random on Friday 27th April. Yep, it really is that easy…I’m nice like that.

For those that like a little more detail, the theme for the unconference is: The Power of a Socially Engaged Organisation and there are some fantastic and knowledgeable conversation leaders attending, addressing topics such as –

  • How can organisations embrace social media/strategies internally to increase engagement?
  • What are the positive benefits and opportunities of embracing social and community strategies in organisations?
  • What tools are there to help increase collaboration and conversation in organisations?
  • Can a more social business create commercial value and increase engagement?
  • What alternatives are there to the traditional employee survey?

If you are looking for an event where you can met some great people, interact, engage, challenge, debate and learn, then look no further…book your ticket for ConnectingHR today or see if you can win a free one on here.

Really…what are you waiting for?!

 

I have had a sore throat lately…metaphorically at least…and temporarily lost my blogging voice over the last few months. I’m happy to report that it seems to be well and truly back, due in no small measure to some of the brilliant people I have around me.

Whilst I was on holiday, my good friend Flora started her own blog (if you haven’t read it yet, you really should, it’s excellent) and what struck me most when reading it, is how her voice jumped off the page to me. Her voice, her style – undeniably, emphatically her. It reminded me of why I had started blogging and gave me some insight into how honest, personal blogs can be so rewarding and refreshing to read. It also inspired a little spark of recognition that I still have plenty to say and a voice and style of my own to articulate it in.

The other thing that struck me in reading Flora’s first post was the great way that she described her network – vibrant, full of varied, precious friends and family, people she loves and respects, people who she helps and who help her. That reminded me of the general fabulousness of the people that I am privileged to have become friends with through ConnectingHR and Twitter, as well as those who I have met through more conventional means.

And then, a chance conversation in Twitter with one such lovely friend of mine, Anthony Allinson, led to him emailing me some really thoughtful feedback on what he likes about my blog, things that have helped and inspired him and some ideas for future topics, should I feel like returning more regularly to the blogging fray. Reading his email not only lightened my heart, but somehow also had the effect releasing lots of ideas about future posts and musings and generally cheering me up and inspiring me no end. I was, and am, touched beyond measure that he had taken the time to think about me and about my blog and what would be helpful to move both of us forward. He will be blushing furiously by now, I know, so I will simply say that I am hugely appreciative of his consistent, understated kindness.

The lesson for me is that asking for and accepting help from friends, family and colleagues is not only OK, it is more often than not absolutely essential in order to continue to grow and develop. There is undoubtedly a fortuitous element of right words, right place, right time to all of this…but the simple fact is, you have to be open to being helped, as much as you are willing to offer and give it yourself. And it feels great…I shall be practising doing it more often!

So to Tony and Flora, thank you! Beers…or rather red wine, whiskey and cocktails…are on me :).

A terrible pun of a title, which I couldn’t resist. This week I attended the Human Resources Summit in Lisbon. I was filled with some trepidation before the event, particularly because of the dynamics of the set-up: suppliers pay to attend, which funds the flights and hotel accommodation of the delegates, who therefore attend for free. Not only that, but there were a series of half hour one-to-one meetings between practitioners and suppliers that were  tightly scheduled and mandatory. I approached the event with an open mind, but I really wasn’t sure it would be for me.

To my surprise, I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it. I met some fantastic people and have come back with my head full of ideas, thoughts and plans.

What I enjoyed most was the networking, both with other senior HR people (there were around 50 in all from a wide variety of organisations) and with suppliers, who were (almost!) without fail engaging, interesting, thought-provoking and likeable. I didn’t manage to speak to everyone over the two days, but had stimulating and useful discussions with those that I did.

The key-note speaker on the first night was rather underwhelming, however the quality of conversation with other participants mostly compensated for this. I selected two strategy sessions in advance of the conference, which were both excellent. It was an extremely well organised summit, a beautiful and fortuitously sunny location and a genuinely engaging and enjoyable event.

And the dreaded one-to-one meetings with suppliers? Mostly fine. I rarely felt as if I was being sold to, was often very interested to hear what types of services they offered and got to know them as people in a reasonably relaxed environment. Whilst it wouldn’t be everyone’s choice to do that type of event, the suppliers were evenly split between those that were regulars at such summits and those who were trying it for the first time. The regulars felt that it was a good investment and that building relationships in this way with senior HR people was effective and bore commercial fruit over time.  Many of the ‘newbie’ suppliers were as anxious as the delegates about the ‘speed dating’ concept of selecting who to talk to in advance and were keen to interact and get to know others on an individual basis.

All in all, it was a good opportunity and one that I enjoyed. I even got to meet a couple of Twitter buddies for the first time, which was a highlight.  Something to think about further, for sure :).

 
So last week I ran this blog’s first ever competition, to win a free ticket to the ConnectingHR Unconference on 20th October. If it were up to me I would love for all eight of the applicants to be able to attend…however, I only have one to give away and the random number generator pronounced the winner to be Beth Baume aka @BettyBBlonde. If for any reason Beth cannot make the event, I will repeat the same process with the remaining individuals who expressed an interest in attending.

There is some good news for everyone else too though. There will be further chances to win free tickets to this fantastic event –  all you have to do is to follow @ConnectingHR on Twitter and keep a close watch on the tweets. Then as soon as they announce further free tickets, go straight to the eventbrite page and register for a ‘free twitter follow swag ticket.’ It will literally be first come first served!

Exciting times. If you haven’t bought your ticket for the event yet, please do so here – you won’t regret it!

So, anyone who has read my blog for a while will know that I’m a big fan of ConnectingHR and hugely enjoy being a part of what they do. Without ConnectingHR I would not be the avid Twitter and social media fan that I now am, and nor would I be a keen blogger.

Quite simply, ConnectingHR is a fantastic and energised group of HR people – generalist practitioners, recruiters, consultants, communication experts, learning and development folk and many, many more –  who connect on Twitter under #connectinghr and who interact and chat over at the www.connectinghr.org website. Once a quarter there is also a bigger event for people to meet up, outside of the usual informal drinks and get-togethers – either a networking evening (known as a tweet-up) or a day’s long Unconference.

I’m not usually prone to gushing, but genuinely I have never come across a group of HR people more willing to provide help and support, genuinely interesting and interested, vocal and articulate, inclusive and thought-provoking. Seriously, they are great – we are great.

Why do I tell you all of this now? Well, the third ConnectingHR Unconference is taking place on the 20th October and now is the time to get your skates on and book your place. It’s very easy to do, just register here. Excitingly, I also have the opportunity to give away a free ticket to the Unconference and all you need to do to apply is to submit a comment at the end of this post by Friday 7th Oct and tell me why you want to come and what you hope you will get out of it. The only rules (of course there are rules, I work in HR!) are that you should be an HR practitioner who hasn’t attended an Unconference before. Oh, and I might ask you for some blog comments once you’ve been :).

So, that’s it. I have always highly disliked the traditional concept of networking, but the lovely thing about ConnectingHR is that you will find yourself amongst friends…and it really is a form of networking that totally works.

What are you waiting for? Who wants a free ticket? Go on…make my day…. 😉

Friends and colleagues are often surprised that I am a Twitter regular and that I have my own blog. After all, I already have a “proper job” and am pretty well established professionally, so what do I get out of it?

The simple and honest answer is that you get out what you put in. But for people who are not familiar with social media and the connectedness that it can bring, this doesn’t seem to sate their curiosity or adequately answer the unspoken questions. So, bearing in mind that I am a reasonably average HR professional with a busy job, this is what I have gained over the last year through regular tweeting, blogging and attending two unconferences.

  • I have talked about networking and professional connections before.  What takes a little more time and patience to articulate though, is the high conversion rates of professional connections to real and genuine friends. From a glance through my timeline and ‘followers’ I would say I have made at least 30 friends this year, people who I meet up with to have lunch, a coffee or drinks and whose brains I pick on a regular basis, either online or in person.
  • In addition to the people I consider to be friends, I also have a wealth of professional contacts who are hugely helpful and knowledgeable. Some of them will undoubtedly become friends over the next year
  • There is a real sense of connectedness with what is current through interacting on social media. Whether its keeping up with the latest HR developments, legal updates, live streams from conferences, opinions, news, politics or current affairs, i am more up-to-date than I ever have been and the tools of social media provide an invaluable, instantaneous global perspective
  • I haven’t made my first Twitter hire…yet! I have been sufficiently impressed with the quality of candidates that have come through Twitter referrals that I have taken a couple of candidates through to second interview stage and made an offer to one of them. So, I truly believe that this is only a matter of time. The response I got from tweeting about a requirement for an HR interim was extraordinary and I will definitely recruit this way should I need one again.
  • Free advice and consultancy…in abundance. Never have I met a group of people so willing to share their knowledge and help others – social has a sharing effect on people

Those are the main tangible outputs, although it only really scratches the surface of what can be gained professionally from social media.  And of course social media is just a tool and in time there will be new things to get excited about and explore. The point for me is that it is always about people, about connecting and giving as much as you get to make those professional and personal relationships as effective as they can be. We’d be daft to pretend that social media is the answer to everything…but equally, I firmly behave that HR professionals are missing a trick if they don’t seek to understand what you can get out of it, and even more importantly, what you can put back in ;).

What are the tangible benefits that you have experienced through social media…has it done much for you lately?


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