Table of Contents Hide
  1. The Importance of Networking for HR Professionals
    1. Making Connections Opens Doors
    2. Keeping Pulse on Industry Trends
    3. Gaining Insider Tips for Career Growth
  2. Best Places to Network for HR Professionals
    1. HR Conferences and Events
    2. Online HR Networks
    3. HR Associations
  3. Building Your HR Network
    1. Start with Colleagues and Contacts
    2. Identify Influencers to Follow
    3. Make Genuine Connections
  4. Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch
    1. What Should You Include?
    2. How Long Should It Be?
  5. Growing Your Network Authentically
    1. Quality Over Quantity
    2. Follow Up and Follow Through
  6. Leveraging Your Network to Advance Your HR Career
    1. Discover Open Positions
    2. Prepare for HR Interviews
    3. Negotiate Job Offers Confidently
  7. Avoiding Common HR Networking Mistakes
    1. Don’t Be Desperate
    2. Don’t Just Take Value
  8. Using Social Media to Enhance Networking
    1. Expand Your Digital Footprint
    2. Research Contacts Beforehand
    3. Keep Cultivating Relationships
  9. Long-Term Strategies for Continual Growth
    1. Document Your Network
    2. Set Quarterly Goals
    3. Build HR Site Expert Badges
  10. Making Time for Ongoing Growth
    1. Merge Networking with Existing Meetings
    2. Schedule Monthly Catch-Ups
    3. Align Conference Travel with Vacation
    4. Wake Up Early to Connect
    5. Set Weekly Objectives
    6. Embrace Commute Time
  11. Frequently Asked Questions About HR Networking
    1. Why is networking important for human resources professionals?
    2. What HR conferences are best for networking?
    3. How can I grow my HR network if I have a busy job?
    4. What types of HR contacts are most valuable to network with?
    5. How can I add value for my HR connections beyond just taking advice?
    6. Should I treat media and HR technology vendors differently than peer networking?
    7. What HR networking faux pas should I avoid?
    8. How do I overcome shyness or introversion as a barrier to HR networking?
    9. Should I capture notes after HR networking conversations?
    10. How can I network effectively if I am currently unemployed?
    11. What uniquely valuable insights can other HR professionals offer compared to executives?
    12. Is it appropriate to ask a senior HR executive I’m networked with about job opportunities at their company?
    13. How often should I engage with my professional contacts and connections?
    14. What’s the best way to start a conversation while networking?
    15. How do I expand my HR network outside my city?
    16. What questions should I ask senior HR leaders to get the most value from our discussion?
    17. Is it appropriate to connect over social media with HR executives I meet at conferences?
    18. How do I keep networking conversations focused yet natural?
    19. Should I let new HR connections know about my job search status?
    20. Is it appropriate to ask fellow HR networking contacts to review my resume?
    21. How do I nurture HR relationships when frustrated with my current employer?
    22. What topics should I avoid bringing up while networking?
    23. Should I continue engaging with past HR colleagues who left my company?
    24. Is it worth connecting with HR pros outside my niche area of expertise?
    25. Should I let my boss know about my external networking activities?
    26. Is it appropriate to network with HR providers/partners we currently use?
    27. How do I make time for in-person networking while managing a demanding workload?
    28. Is it worth continuing to nurture my college networks?
    29. Should I comment on social posts by executives/influencers unlikely to remember me?
    30. If conversations stall, what small talk topics work well at HR networking happy hours?
    31. How do I ensure I follow up with all new contacts after events?

In today’s interconnected world, the ability to network effectively and build strong relationships is essential for personal and professional growth. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or an entrepreneur, the power of networking can open doors to new opportunities, foster collaboration, and enhance your overall success. This comprehensive guide will explore the art of networking and relationship building, providing strategies, tips, and insights to help you connect with others authentically and build meaningful relationships that last.

The Importance of Networking for HR Professionals

Making Connections Opens Doors

Networking allows HR professionals to build relationships with peers, executives, industry leaders, potential partners, and candidates. These connections are invaluable for sharing ideas, learning about new trends, finding mentors, advancing your career, and landing new job opportunities. In an increasingly competitive job market, having a strong professional network is more important than ever before.

Attending HR conferences and events, joining associations, and connecting with top HR leaders helps professionals stay updated on the latest workplace practices, technologies, compliance issues, and other trends shaping the field. Bringing this knowledge back to your organization demonstrates thought leadership.

Gaining Insider Tips for Career Growth

Network contacts can provide insider advice on building the right skills, framing your experience, acing interviews, negotiating offers, and more. They can alert you to open positions and put in a good word with hiring managers. Mentors can give invaluable guidance at every stage of your career.

Best Places to Network for HR Professionals

HR Conferences and Events

Top conferences like SHRM Annual Conference & Expo allow for networking with thousands of HR colleagues. Smaller local meetups also build connections. Look for learning, speaking, and sponsor opportunities.

SHRM Annual Conference & Expo

The world’s largest HR event attracts over 15,000 attendees each year. The multi-day event includes keynotes, educational sessions, an exhibitor floor, networking events, and more.

State and Local SHRM Chapter Events

State councils and local chapters hold regular meetings, conferences, seminars, and other events. These provide proximity networking opportunities.

HR Technology Conferences

Events like HR Technology Conference & Exposition connect HR leaders with innovative tech providers. Discuss challenges and demo cutting-edge solutions.

Online HR Networks

HR groups on social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook facilitate networking nationwide. Interact through posts, comments, chat features, and private messages.

LinkedIn Groups

Hundreds of niche HR groups have tens of thousands of engaged members sharing content and conversing. Search for relevant hashtags and topics.

#hr Chat on Twitter

This popular weekly chat sees participants tweet about various HR themes using the #hr hashtag. Follow along or jump into the real-time conversation.

HR Facebook Groups

Facebook features groups for general HR networking as well as specific focuses like compensation, analytics, diversity, recruitment, and more.

HR Associations

Joining prominent HR associations provides access to local chapters, special interest sections, annual conferences, publications, career services, and member directories.

Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

The world’s largest HR membership organization offers professional development resources plus opportunities to get involved at global, state council, and chapter levels.

Association for Talent Development (ATD)

With 120 chapters globally, ATD members gain access to research, credentialing, certificate programs, and events advancing workplace learning and performance.

Associations by Specialty

Numerous associations cater to specific HR specialties like payroll (AAP), analytics (IPMA-HR), diversity (NAHR), healthcare HR (AAHRM), and others.

Building Your HR Network

Start with Colleagues and Contacts

Begin networking efforts internally by meeting colleagues in different departments and building positive relationships. Ask associates who they know at other respected companies.

Connect Deep, Not Just Wide

Focus first on building strong bonds with a diverse but select group of highly-regarded professionals rather than superficial relationships with as many people as possible.

Support and Celebrate Coworkers

Promoting colleagues’ achievements on social channels brings new connections. Recommending them for projects and praising them to executives builds goodwill.

Identify Influencers to Follow

Look up prominent HR executives at leading organizations, authors of HR books/articles, speakers at major conferences, and recognized thought leaders. Follow their activity online and attend local events.

See Who Leaders Connect With

Notice who influential HR professionals engage with and follow via social channels. These are likely other worthy connections doing great work under the radar.

Subscribe to Newsletters

Sign up for email newsletters from top companies, thought leaders, influencers, associations, and publishers to stay on pulse of the latest HR perspectives and news.

Make Genuine Connections

When attending events or messaging contacts, move conversations beyond superficial talk. Discuss challenges, ask thoughtful questions, and mention common connections. Follow up afterward and continue valuable dialogues.

Listen and Learn

Rather than approaching interactions as a chance to tout your own accomplishments, enter each conversation wanting to discover the other person’s experiences.

Share Your Knowledge Authentically

Offer own your insights when relevant, not in a bragging way. Provide advice to help others solve problems. This builds quality relationships.

Extend Invitations

Suggest meeting over coffee or lunch to continue an interesting discussion. Offer to connect contacts doing similar work. This drives more intimate networking.

Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch

What Should You Include?

An elevator pitch quickly conveys to contacts who you are, what you do, what you’re interested in, and what makes you unique. Include current role, past experience, skills, passions, and what you want to gain via networking.

Tailor Your Message

Tweak your pitch based on the situation and contact. What you share with an executive should differ from conversations with tech providers, for example.

Convey Value

Communicate how you deliver value in HR and what distinguishes you from other professionals. Share career accomplishments plus any community involvement.

Pose Intriguing Questions

Replace generic small talk with open-ended questions that spark dialogue like “What emerging technologies most excite you in HR?” and “How are you engaging remote employees?”

How Long Should It Be?

Strive for a 25-35 second elevator pitch allowing you to exchange brief introductions and a question before time runs out. Practice verbalizing your pitch to perfect brevity, flow, and emphasis. If conversation continues, you can share more.

Hook the Listener

Lead with your most compelling point that aligns to the listener’s interests. This captures attention for the rest of the pitch.

Be Precise

Choose words carefully and concisely convey only the most relevant details. Find the balance between boring and overwhelming.

Exude Passion

Enthusiasm for your work should come across naturally. This enthusiasm will make others more interested in you.

Growing Your Network Authentically

Quality Over Quantity

Focus more on nurturing a modest number of strong connections rather than amassing superficial contacts. Offer thoughtful comments on social posts, send relevant articles, meet for coffee, give recommendations, and find other ways to build rapport.

Look for Common Ground

Networking based on shared experiences, interests, goals, backgrounds, hobbies, university ties, travel histories, and other factors drives more genuine relationships.

Be Guarded with Self-Promotion

Occasionally sharing career updates, new roles, published articles, speaker appearances, and company news is fine but should not dominate conversations. Keep the focus on learning about others.

Follow Up and Follow Through

After meeting new contacts, connect via LinkedIn within 24 hours. Reference your conversation and suggest meeting again or introductions to those with common interests. Then actually follow through.

Add Value for Contacts

Look for small but meaningful ways to help new connections, whether sharing an insightful podcast episode or making a warm introduction to a complementary professional.

Don’t Ignore Existing Connections

While networking expands your web of contacts, continue engaging closely with those in your inner circle. Check in, meet up, and find new ways to collaborate.

Leveraging Your Network to Advance Your HR Career

Discover Open Positions

Well-connected contacts often hear about job openings before they are formally announced. Even if they don’t know of specific openings, they can put you on hiring managers’ radars.

Communicate Your Goals

Tactfully inform your network that you aspire to advance into higher levels of HR leadership. Ask about available paths at their organizations that fit your skills and interests.

Request Referrals

Once aware that your dream company has an HR leadership opening, politely ask networked executives at that firm if they can submit your resume directly or make an internal introduction.

Prepare for HR Interviews

Contacts working in senior HR roles can provide valuable insider guidance on best positioning your experience for interviews. Ask for their advice on tricky HR scenario questions so you can practice and gain insights before the real interviews.

Learn Industry/Role Context

Connect with HR professionals actually working in your target function and sector. Discuss day-to-day realities, priorities, concerns, policies, tools, and terminology to deeply understand expectations.

Gain Salary Insights

Networked peers currently in parallel roles can provide guidance on competitive pay ranges that help you set appropriate salary requirements when interviewing.

Negotiate Job Offers Confidently

With trusted mentors coaching you and clarity from contacts on role context, you will negotiate new job offers from a position of greater confidence, knowledge, and power.

Avoiding Common HR Networking Mistakes

Don’t Be Desperate

As eager as you may be to advance your career, avoid conveying desperation in networking conversations. This includes name dropping, obvious flattery, awkward segues selling yourself, or trying to connect contacts by force.

Relax and Have Fun

Networking is about organic relationship building, not desperate pleading. Stay positive, focus conversations on learning, and don’t take yourself too seriously. People will be drawn to you.

Don’t Brag

Resist the temptation to brag about accomplishments or overstate achievements in hopes of impressing others. Be humble, highlight your team’s efforts, and focus on positive outcomes.

Don’t Just Take Value

Networking solely to advance your own career interests without concern for supporting others feels inauthentic and selfish. Strive for mutually beneficial relationships. Make genuine connections, build trust, and add value for contacts before asking for favors.

Help First, Ask Later

Look for opportunities to offer insight, provide referrals, make introductions, share resources, and give back to old and new connections.

Follow Up

After a contact aids your career in some way, follow up to express thanks, update them on outcomes, and ask how you can help them down the road. This nurtures ongoing reciprocal relationships.

Using Social Media to Enhance Networking

Expand Your Digital Footprint

Creating and consistently updating rich social media profiles ensures contacts can learn about your background, skills, accomplishments, and interests 24/7. This drives more informed conversations and meaningful connections.

Showcase Thought Leadership

Posting original HR content demonstrates expertise and builds followers. Share articles, podcasts, videos, slides, and more across platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, and company blogs.

Participate Actively in Groups

Commenting, liking, sharing content, and posting questions and advice to online HR groups leads to more profile views, connects with aligned members, and positions you as an expert.

Research Contacts Beforehand

Review social profiles of attendees before events so you can reference shared connections, past roles, accomplishments, interests, and associations. This enables more intelligent small talk and networking.

Connect Post-Event

Sending LinkedIn requests soon after meeting new people, with personalized notes referencing your conversation, makes lasting connections from short interactions.

Keep Cultivating Relationships

With contacts made at events or through social platforms, networking doesn’t end after meeting someone once. Continue online engagement sharing relevant articles, commenting on updates, responding to questions, and sustaining valuable dialogues.

Long-Term Strategies for Continual Growth

Document Your Network

Maintain a master list of contacts, including profile links, contact details, key conversation points, and value delivered. Continually add new connections and capture important interactions using Relationship Impact Value Tracker (RIVT) notes.

Tag Key Data

In your CRM or spreadsheet, tag each contact with relevant categories like industry, specialty, met at _ event, introduced through ___, etc. This reveals networking gaps and opportunities.

Sync Calendar and Notes

Connecting contact data to meeting entries on your calendar app tracks discussions over time. Location data also identifies frequent networking sources worth revisiting.

Set Quarterly Goals

Outline networking objectives each quarter for events to attend, new people to meet, follow ups, groups to join, social post frequency, topical research, profile updates, and more. Review progress to refine approaches.

Build HR Site Expert Badges

Earning credibility indicators like LinkedIn Skills assessments, conference speaker badges, published author verifications, and press contributor pages showcase your topic leadership to new network connections.

Making Time for Ongoing Growth

With so much daily work and existing contacts to manage, finding time to continually expand your network may seem impossible without letting key responsibilities slip. Utilize these time management tips to avoid this trade-off.

Merge Networking with Existing Meetings

When gathering with current colleagues, partners, and peers for status calls or project meetings, allow 5-10 minutes before or after to quickly expand your circle or gain valuable introductions.

Schedule Monthly Catch-Ups

Block your work calendar for an hour each month to meet someone new from a target company, reconnect with a past colleague, or gather with a special interest group. Treat it as sacred space.

Align Conference Travel with Vacation

When approving out of state conference budgets, tack on a couple extra days to explore the host city after the event concludes. Bring your spouse so you can still spend quality time together.

Wake Up Early to Connect

Block off 30-60 minutes in the morning before the workday distraction to join online HR communities, comment on new posts, send introduction emails, accept invitations, and advance key networking relationships consistently over coffee.

Set Weekly Objectives

Every Friday afternoon or Monday morning, outline 1-3 small networking to-do’s you can tackle in pockets of time over the coming week while still effectively managing your workload – reply to a discussion, research an organization, send an article, request an intro, etc.

Embrace Commute Time

Rather than zoning out or only listening to music while commuting via public transportation, car, or plane, use chunks of travel time to engage in online networking communities, listen to career-building podcasts, read industry publications, organize your contacts, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions About HR Networking

Why is networking important for human resources professionals?

Networking allows HR pros to exchange ideas with peers, learn emerging best practices, identify partners and tools, gain insider interview tips, discover career opportunities, and seek expert counsel at every career stage. These connections are invaluable professional assets.

What HR conferences are best for networking?

Top HR networking event picks include Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Annual Conference, HR Technology Conference, LinkedIn Talent Connect, WorkHuman Live, and local chapter meetings by organizations like Association for Talent Development (ATD) and Employers Resource Council (ERC).

How can I grow my HR network if I have a busy job?

Utilize pockets of time before work, during commutes, between meetings, and while traveling for existing commitments to connect online with peers, schedule brief catch ups, join forum discussions, and send relevant articles – no huge time commitment required.

What types of HR contacts are most valuable to network with?

Prioritize networking with HR executives at respected firms, prominent authors/speakers, association board members, influential bloggers/podcasters, award winners, vendors with innovative solutions, tenured faculty teaching HR topics, and recognized diversity/inclusion champions.

How can I add value for my HR connections beyond just taking advice?

Look for opportunities large and small to give back to your network by making thoughtful introductions between contacts, sharing job openings or event invites, spotlighting their work to your social followers, forwarding relevant articles, providing counsel on their HR challenges, etc.

Should I treat media and HR technology vendors differently than peer networking?

Yes, warm media relationships lead to contributed bylines, quotes, and brand exposure for you personally and your company. Tech providers offer insider buyer advice and better pricing in exchange for product feedback and referrals.

What HR networking faux pas should I avoid?

Don’t be desperate by only discussing your goals, avoid bragging about accomplishments, don’t force contacts and conversations, follow up after initial meetings, reciprocate favors back to old colleagues before asking again, and balance online interactions with genuine offline meetups.

How do I overcome shyness or introversion as a barrier to HR networking?

Focus conversations on asking questions about others’ experiences rather than pressure to promote yourself. Attend smaller meetups to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Set a goal of short quality conversations over amassing contacts. Practice your elevator pitch until delivering it feels natural.

Should I capture notes after HR networking conversations?

Yes, document details like common connections, contact info, meeting context, discussed interests/goals, potential ways to collaborate, and next steps via Relationship Impact Value Tracker (RIVT) notes. Review before meeting again. Apps like Contactually auto-log this.

How can I network effectively if I am currently unemployed?

Attend local meetups, volunteer for associations, join online HR communities not geared exclusively to company employees, offer pro bono HR advisory sessions to nonprofits/small businesses, teach a LinkedIn Learning course in your specialty, and pursue consulting/contract roles.

What uniquely valuable insights can other HR professionals offer compared to executives?

While both connections bring value, peers understand day-to-day realities and tactical practices better than the high-level strategy focus of executives. HR contacts provide technical guidance, job search tips,recommended conferences/groups, and niche partners tailored to function.

Is it appropriate to ask a senior HR executive I’m networked with about job opportunities at their company?

Yes, but don’t put them on the spot without context. Pave the way in earlier conversations discussing your interest in opportunities that align well to your skills and passions. Frame inquiries

How often should I engage with my professional contacts and connections?

Aim to engage with key contacts at least once a quarter. Set calendar reminders to check in by email, over coffee, or on a quick call. Consistent engagement strengthens bonds and ensures you stay top of mind.

What’s the best way to start a conversation while networking?

Before events, research attendees and current news about their companies so you can break the ice with an informed question. Complimenting something unique about the person builds initial rapport.

How do I expand my HR network outside my city?

Attend national events like SHRM’s Annual Conference to connect in-person with peers nationwide. Join multi-city regional associations. Follow and engage with leaders posting in national HR groups on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.

What questions should I ask senior HR leaders to get the most value from our discussion?

Ask open-ended questions about leadership challenges, emerging workplace trends, qualities they look for in high-potential hires, their biggest priorities this year, professional development tips, work-life balance strategies, etc.

Is it appropriate to connect over social media with HR executives I meet at conferences?

Yes, send a personalized LinkedIn or Twitter connection within 24 hours referencing your in-person discussion. Continue the dialogue by liking and commenting on their posts over time to grow the relationship.

How do I keep networking conversations focused yet natural?

Have a few key soundbites and questions planned based on their background but allow genuine dialogue flow naturally once chatting rather than sticking rigidly to script. Listen closely to pivot off points they raise.

Should I let new HR connections know about my job search status?

If actively job hunting, don’t treat new contacts as just job sources or bombard with resumes. Tactfully indicate you’re exploring new challenges that leverage your experience and welcome referrals if they know of good fits organically.

Is it appropriate to ask fellow HR networking contacts to review my resume?

For close contacts with experience in relevant functions/industries, it can provide helpful insider perspective on presenting your background for maximum impact. But avoid overusing favors.

How do I nurture HR relationships when frustrated with my current employer?

Venting workplace frustrations can feel cathartic but won’t strengthen your network. Keep conversations positive focused on learning. If needing counsel, lean on trusted mentors not wider contacts until emotions cool down.

What topics should I avoid bringing up while networking?

Steer clear of controversial issues, office politics, complaints about leaders, compensation comparisons, legal matters, personal life overshares, and other topics that may negatively color an HR peer’s perception of you.

Should I continue engaging with past HR colleagues who left my company?

Absolutely. Former coworkers understand your strengths well and appreciate your work firsthand. If they land related roles elsewhere, they can become powerful external advocates.

Is it worth connecting with HR pros outside my niche area of expertise?

Yes. HR GENERALISTS and peers in areas like analytics, diversity, compensation, and L&D can still become valuable partners for exchanging best practices, talent referrals, vendor intel, and varied perspectives expanding your thinking.

Should I let my boss know about my external networking activities?

No need to provide detailed updates but do share positive news like speaking engagements, published articles, or committee roles you secure via networking to showcase value. This builds trust and alignment.

Is it appropriate to network with HR providers/partners we currently use?

Yes but tread carefully not to cross ethical lines as a buyer. Limit conversations to their offerings’ value for end-users, conference networking opportunities, and improving workforce effectiveness. Disclose any substantial relationships.

How do I make time for in-person networking while managing a demanding workload?

Block off recurring placeholder time weekly or monthly to keep capacity free for coffee meetings, campus visits, industry events, etc. Treat this protected space as seriously as big meetings.

Is it worth continuing to nurture my college networks?

Absolutely. Fellow alumni often gladly help grads despite the field or generation gap. Campuses also host conferences, bespoke bootcamps, job boards, and events catering specifically to their affiliates.

Should I comment on social posts by executives/influencers unlikely to remember me?

Thoughtful comments on their content lead to likes and replies which incrementally raise your visibility to them, peers in their network, and other readers. This builds organic awareness for future conferences, job applications, partnerships.

If conversations stall, what small talk topics work well at HR networking happy hours?

Everyone appreciates chatting about favorite local spots, travel destinations, sports wins/heartbreaks (if into them), viral pet videos, Netflix binge shows, NFTs and cryptocurrencies, AI advances, Tesla drama, favorite TikTok accounts…just don’t force it!

How do I ensure I follow up with all new contacts after events?

Designate time post-event each night or the next morning to send new connections personalized LinkedIn requests with a custom message on enjoyed conversation topics. Multi-event trips can overwhelm so don’t let requests pile up.

Networking And Relationship Building: Connecting For Success - Compete Academy
Networking and relationship building: connecting for success – compete academy
Networking And Relationship Building: Connecting For Success - Compete Academy
Networking and relationship building: connecting for success – compete academy

Networking And Relationship Building: Connecting For Success - Compete Academy
Networking and relationship building: connecting for success – compete academy

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