HR Pros: Start Networking!

HR Pros: Start Networking!

Author: Laura Mazzullo

I believe strongly in both the personal and professional benefits of networking. By actively learning from each other, sharing with each other, and by communicatingwith each other-we are able to inspire innovative change! Many HR professionals agree with this philosophy and remain active in their local HR communities and professionally on social media.

However, there sadly seems to be a large number of HR pros resistant to this philosophy. Many may have been taught to remain private and guarded with their expertise and knowledge.

Some don’t quite grasp the benefit of connecting with others in their field. Some are scared and resistant to sharing knowledge that they believe is confidential or proprietary. I agree that being confidential is a critically important skill to a talented HR professional; but remaining confidential was never intended to mean that HR pros should resist sharing with others in their field.

I was talking with an HR leader earlier today about the importance of networking within the HR field. We were not discussing networking with the purpose of job-searching or hiring, but rather the positive impact of networking for the sole purpose of learning from each other and sharing with one another.

The market is changing. Perhaps there was once a time when HR pros were trained to be ‘private’. They were taught not to share the way ‘they did things’ with those in their field whom they perceived as direct competitors. Those were different times. That was likely a time before social media, before a strong focus arose on authenticity/visibility about corporate cultures online, and before businesses were moving at the extremely fast-pace that they are today.

Today’s HR professional cannot risk remaining guarded or secretive. Becoming more vulnerable, authentic, communicative and receptive to others has never been MORE important!

When asking HR pros in my network to describe their resistance to networking, here are some actual reasons they’ve shared with me about why they avoid social media participation, joining HR networking events or connecting with HR leaders at their competitors:

“I don’t want my competitors seeing my LinkedIn contacts, and poaching them for jobs!”

“I don’t want others knowing how we retain top talent, that’s our secret!”

“I don’t want to share our areas of improvement with them and appear weak.”

“I don’t have any time to connect with others.”

“I don’t see Twittter and Instagram as professionally relevant.”

“How we do things in my HR department is private.”

“But, they’ll take all my ideas as their own.”

“I don’t see the need to brainstorm with other people. I have a job to do.”

When I hear these comments, I challenge HR professionals to question this mindset! Let’s consider a shift in how we view networking. I kindly ask you to do the same!Let’s empower each other to see networking as a positive and valuable professionally-enriching activity. Let’s empower HR pros to see the value in connecting, sharing, asking, and getting curious.

HUMILITY and CURIOSITY keep arising as 2 incredibly valuable soft-skills in HR today. I believe networking is an important way to nurture, practice and improve those 2 skills!

Let’s break it down more directly, and talk about the who, what, when, where, why and how.

Who: HR professionals in the NYC area (I’ve noticed those in other parts of the country, London, Australia, New Zealand seem to be doing an exceptional job of social media activity and networking) In fact, most of my recent Instagram contacts have come from these areas. Where are all the HR pros in NYC?! Let’s get more involved!

What: Becoming more open and receptive to the positive perception of networking and sharing, with the sole purpose of learning from each other and sharing with each other. Be willing to get out there and connect with each other. Fight resistance to sharing, or asking questions. Show vulnerability, brainstorm, and connect. Remember: Humility and Curiosity are 2 incredibly important soft-skills for today’s HR professional.

When: Make time for it each week. Set goals for yourself. Some ideas: attend 2 HR related networking events each month, participate in 1 HR related Twitter chat each month, post one HR related Instagram post each month, have coffee with 1 LinkedIn connection each month, or call 1 HR pro in your network each month to talk about the market. Make connecting with others in your field a priority and schedule it on your calendar!

Where: This can be done via social media (top sites for HR pros connecting at the moment: LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram). This can also be done in-person with networking events (groups like DisruptHR, NYCSHRM). You can schedule in-person coffee chats with HR pros at your competitors, or get smaller groups together to talk ‘shop’ once a month. It can happen in-person and on social media; ideally you’ll participate in a combination of both.

Why: Because humility and curiosity are two important soft-skills for today’s HR professional, and the best HR pros are willing to evolve and change. The market is moving rapidly, information is becoming more transparent. It’s important to keep learning, keep questioning, keep sharing, and keep connecting. Don’t get ‘stuck behind’. Keep moving forward. Just dive in! Learn from each other.

How: Start somewhere.Be willing to evolve. Be willing to let go of ‘old-school’ thinking. Be willing to share. Be willing to connect. The key is: being open and willingto consider a new perspective and shift in thinking.

Find me on Twitter and Instagram @EastSideStaff (can’t wait to see you there!). Follow your local NYC SHRM chapter @NYCSHRM (they’ll love your participation!). Let your employer know (They’ll be thrilled you’re going to get more involved in advocating for your field).

Most importantly: Enjoy the process! Networking is FUN! Look forward to your thoughts on this topic.

Laura Mazzullo is the Founder and Owner of East Side Staffing, a boutique recruitment firm focused on the placement of Human Resources professionals. Since 2003, Laura has maintained a successful career in Recruitment working in major markets such as Chicago, Illinois, Stamford, Connecticut and New York, New York.

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