The role of the HR professional has changed drastically in the past several decades. Human resources used to be all about compliance, record-keeping and handling employee disputes. And while these remain part of the job today, the rise of technology has only increased the need for HR professionals to be engaged in more creative ways. In the Digital Age, building a diverse network and making personal connections is what separates a mindless corporate drone from a great HR specialist. Here are a few HR tips to keep in mind to establish yourself as an effective, well-connected HR professional:
Set personal and professional goals at events
When attending human resources networking events, it’s important to know exactly what you want to get out of the experience beforehand. Whether to look for a job or to make professional connections, you should have a minimum number of people you want to meet or resumes you want to hand out. This will help you immerse yourself in the event and interact in a more focused way rather than wandering around hoping you run into a valuable contact. Hitting your self-appointed targets will also help you come out of these events with a tangible sense of accomplishment.
In the broader scheme of things, it’s also great to have a professional mission statement. As an HR professional, what is your vision for the company culture? If you are not yet employed, what kind of environment do you hope to foster and what kind of leader do you want to be in your prospective company? Having an answer to these questions before someone asks can show that you are passionate about your field and someone who will continue to develop their skills even after being hired.
Do your research
These days networking doesn’t just mean exchanging business cards. It means doing your research on the companies that you are interested in and having detailed questions ready for company representatives. Specific questions for the recruiter or company agent show that you are dedicated to the field and are genuinely invested in learning more about the company and their goals pertaining to HR. Ask them about what digital tools they use or how they feel about a particular trend in the industry. A few prepared questions like this can help put you at ease if you are nervous and spark a conversation that could lead to a natural rapport.
Build meaningful relationships in your HR community
Truly supportive and stimulating human resource networking starts with personal connections. Some of the best resources are just a few clicks away, on the many Facebook and LinkedIn groups where you can connect with your peers to discuss industry topics and find people with similar interests. With social media, it is very easy to engage in conversations with thought leaders human resources. By posting a relevant article or asking a question on a group page, you can establish yourself as a credible voice in your HR circle. Keeping up with the trends in your industry and contributing to the conversation online also ensures that you will be prepared with relevant talking points in real life meetings.
At a human resources networking event, it’s safe to say that everyone is on their best behavior. Smiles abound, handshakes are firm and almost too much eye contact is made even for the most minor interactions. But being authentic involves more than body language. It means demonstrating to the people you meet that you value their time and attention. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced, competitive atmosphere of a conference or job fair. But what will set you apart from the corporate hustle are personalized ‘thank you’ notes and follow-ups to conversations you took part in. You can make yourself memorable by getting beyond small talk and relating to people on a deeper level. Follow your contacts on social media and keep the conversation going even after the event is over.
Your network shouldn’t stop growing after you get the job offer or promotion. Human resources is a field that is constantly changing and adapting to new technology and trends in how businesses are run. To be effective within your company, it’s important to keep an open mind and be willing to learn from new sources. You may not have the luxury of attending several networking events per year. However, seeking out new contacts online or organizing a meetup with other HR professionals in your community can be just as, if not more, effective. By following these tips, you can not only build a network of valuable business contacts, but also a community from which you can learn in the future.