Human Resources networking is essential to your career advancement and professional success. It helps your continuous learning and provides access to a widespread sharing of ideas, an exchange of views about philosophy and theory, and contact with best practices. HR networking can be scary and difficult, especially when you need help with something such as a job search or clients, but emphasize instead, what you have to give and share, and networking becomes a win-win.
A Human Resources Networking Story
Once upon a time, I worked as an adult education director and counselor with responsibility for the largest, most comprehensive, satellite community college location in the state. I loved what I did, but after 7-8 years helping enrollments and quality increase every year, I experienced a niggling feeling (you may have experienced it) that grew in intensity with each passing month.
As this bothersome feeling became foremost in my consciousness, I realized that I was bored, unchallenged and asking myself, "Is this all there is?"
I began searching for a new job. After 16 years in education, I learned several facts quickly. The private sector, and even universities, were unwilling to consider allowing me to transition my skills from the education environment to a different stage. My network, that I had worked on and cherished for years, was comprised of all educators. This network was wonderful for learning, growing, civic activity, and friendships for 16 years, but it was just about useless for a career change. And, the best jobs were rarely advertised.
Human Resources Network Needed Expansion
I needed to accomplish several tasks quickly. I needed a resume and basic cover letter that translated my education skills into terms and examples higher ed and industry understood and appreciated. My network of associates needed immediate expansion. This is the group of people who knew me and who could graciously, and with knowledge of my skills, refer me to my next opportunity, either unadvertised or just a gleam in a manager's eye on a mental wish list for the "right" person.
Those of you who have made a career change know the frustration of interviewing repeatedly with the person whose job was the one you were qualified to do - and they told you so. I remember a fascinating interview at Steelcase which ended with my interviewer saying. "Here's the problem. You are qualified to do my job and my boss's job. We think you'll be bored and unhappy if we hire you for this job." (Yes, interviewers were more frank in those days because the threat of law suits loomed much less vividly over HR's actions.)
Networking Paid Off
I did finally get the job I wanted and transferred into training, and eventually HR, in industry and I've never looked back. But, the transition would never have occurred without my network of interested people. The actual job I took was unadvertised, a perfect transition for my skills, and my networking associate who referred me for an interview was asked by his networking associate to recommend just one candidate - his best. (Fortunately for me - that was me.)
I maintain my network of associates with varying degrees of success, usually depending on what else is going on in my life. Since most of my consulting and writing has occurred as a result of referrals from happy customers, I can say with honesty that maintaining touch with my network, to help and be helped, has been the most significant factor in my career success. (My bad this year - with my mobility challenges - it has been easy to cocoon.)
But, in a fit of total honesty: any excuse will do me when it comes to human resources networking. I score on the cusp of introverted / extroverted on instruments such as Myers-Briggs and I hate networking. That said. I pursue networking because I believe it works. You will experience this, too.
More Resources About Human Resources Networking
These networking resources will help you develop and maintain an effective network, too: