Do you enjoy meeting people personally and professionally ?? Does there have to be a compelling reason to do so ?? Is the only reason you meet people is because you read a blog post that tells you to ??
I’ve been thinking about this lately because I thrive on meeting new people. That’s a fact. Whenever I go to a new environment, I reach out to meet people. I really want to get to know them, know who they are and something unique about them. I understand that this isn’t the norm and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have the capacity to take in more and more folks.
You see, I’m not a collector. Many people who network are because they have some ulterior motive that is intended to result in a sale of their services or products. When this occurs, people are only scratching the surface of truly connecting and yet people continue to do this. Just last week a person who was a guest at the restaurant I work at came up to me and said, “You look friendly and are always smiling. Here’s my card, I represent . . . .” I was floored. No name. No introduction. Just a chance to whip out the 30-second sales pitch because this is how you think it’s effective to meet other people. I threw his card away.
Let me share an example of how networking has a lasting effect – as it should !! My best friend, Fred, calls me every week. Every. Week. He checks in to see how things are with me personally and professionally. He also just stepped up to run a monthly networking group, GETDOT Cincinnati, as their new President. By the way, he’s officially “retired.” Meeting new people really shouldn’t matter to him anymore should it ??
Fred is not only a dear friend, but he’s a great mentor and example that you need to have relationships with those in your network. That is the key !! If you can’t tell others about a connection past a rectangular piece of paper, then they really aren’t a connection at all. Remember, if you’re too busy to make time for others, don’t have them in your network and don’t be in theirs. That may sound a bit harsh, but great connections encourage each other. They don’t use each other.
The key to networking is to Do the Work !! I think that having a viable network and being an effective networker should be a mandatory skill for all business people and especially for those in HR. Let me be clear – this is a business skill and not a job hunting skill. We’ve lost sight that having a set of “go to” people makes you a stronger professional in your role both within your company and in your industry.
The challenge I see is that HR people are hesitant to reach out and meet others in our field. I don’t understand this because I’ve only seen it benefit me personally and allow me to have access to incredible folks !! This isn’t a factor of being extroverted or introverted. It is a factor that we don’t see the value of taking the time to connect with others.
This week, I’d like you to start doing the work of connecting. Make a commitment to connect with one or two new people in HR. Send them a Linked In request with a personalized invitation. Be active on Twitter and connect with other HR folks and share HR blogs you read with others. Go to events and find a few people you don’t know and take the time to intentionally meet them.
Be good with adding just a few people to your network each week. If you have a larger capacity, meet more people. However, commit to making sure they are connections and not collections. You’ll be a stronger HR pro when you have others around you that can encourage you and share their experiences and knowledge.
I hope you understand that I know that this makes a difference. It will be some of the most meaningful work you’ll ever do !!