Tag: networking

Actionable Tips to Grow Your Networks

Posted on March 24th, by Rita Trehan in Career Advice, Networks, Mentors and Career. 3 comments

“It’s not what you know, but whom you know,” is a phrase with which many of us are familiar, and in today’s hyper-connected world it’s truer than ever. The power of one’s network can’t be diminished, an essential part of professional life that can further your career like nothing else. The right network can solve business problems, expand your knowledge, and catapult your career. It’s a personal advantage that shouldn’t be understated.

With all that said, I find most of us relegate networking to the bottom of our to-do lists, buried under other items that require more immediate priority. But I’d urge you not to delay developing this powerful tool. Building and maintaining one is easier than you’d think and, as I’ve recently discovered, one of the best endeavors you’ll ever undertake.

In the past 18 months, I’ve spent a great deal of time building my own professional network. Truth be told, I previously gave little thought to the power and importance of my professional network when I was in a corporate role, but once out of the daily grind and starting my own enterprise, I’ve realized the incredible value of active networking.

With that said, I’m keen to provide some quick networking strategies that can help you build a successful network, simple time investments that should benefit you for years to come:

Market yourself – Begin by identifying what you have to offer. Look at networking as a way to build your personal brand, which in today’s social media-driven world is incredibly important. Your network is your means of building connections that matter, regardless of your current level or position, so take stock of yourself and understand what you bring to the table.

Know what outcome you desire – Networks work best when viewed as reciprocal relationships, and you should understand what you could contribute as well as wish to receive going in. Here are the criteria that shape my choices:

(1) I create networks that are international in scope because global reach is important to what I do
(2) I wish to connect with people keen to disrupting traditional thoughts and business ideas, sharing ideas centered on changing how we think about the world of work
(3) I wish to embrace connection with other senior executive women across various industries and interests. I am passionate about what women can do in the workplace, and wish to support other women in our professional endeavors
(4) I desire to build a powerful portfolio of HR professionals at various levels. Giving back to my profession and shaping its future direction is something I am keen to do.

Be clear on your objectives – It’s important to be clear on what you wish to achieve. If it’s building your personal brand, select connections that can raise your profile. Identify people of prominence, and not necessarily in your same field. Also, set clear goals for yourself when it comes to building this aspect of your personal life. For instance, this month’s goal could be connecting with five new female technology executives across the industry. This helps you stay focused and provides you with tangible metrics you can track.

It works if you work it – A network is not something you turn on and off when you need it; those who are successful know it requires a regular investment of time and effort. Be consistent, as you’ll have a harder time reestablishing connection if you disappear for an extended period of time. A minimum of an hour a day networking with others via social media and/or in person via events helps to build your network tremendously over time. View your networks like any important relationship: get to know them, learn what’s important to them, and assess how you can help them reach their goals. The more you give, the more you’ll receive. That’s the true ROI in networks.

What are some of the best ways to connect with people?
Connection is easier than ever. Social media and networking sites, numerous professional associations, charitable connections, online meeting groups based on interest, etc. Before you find yourself overwhelmed with choice, decide on which means suit your intended result. I’ve found LinkedIn to be a superior means of interaction, both professionally and personally. It keeps you active in the eye of a good number of professional bodies, and it’s a great means of maintaining your professional contacts. It’s also a bit less intrusive and overwhelming than email, which can be challenging due to the size of everyone’s inboxes these days.

Twitter is an acquired taste: you either love it or you hate it. For me, Twitter is less about building lasting networks than a means of receiving and sharing real-time information. If used for networking, be certain that communication stays brief, and move it into private conversation as swiftly as possible so others aren’t disconnected by a connection that’s best fostered one-on-one.

Measure the ROI of your network – It helps to periodically take stock of your efforts. Some tangible ways to assess good networking ROI include an increase in connections and social media followers; more requests to contribute and/or share your expertise; an uptick in invitations to network events and in-person gatherings; and an increase in opportunities and social events, from coffee dates to interviews and/or business meetings.

Creating an ecosystem of peers, mentors, business advisors, friends, and advisors will reap rewards far beyond your dreams if you take the time to develop your approach, work diligently, and nurture it well. This ecosystem can support your career for years to come and bear opportunities you can’t imagine. Start networking today!


Photo Credit

About the Author: Rita Trehan is the Founder and Principal of Rita Trehan, LLC, a change management and leadership advisory firm focused on corporate leadership, emerging technology, and cutting-edge organizational design. As a seasoned top executive that has successfully transformed organizations at the Fortune 200 and beyond, she has extensive experience working with CEOs and top corporate management on process and organizational improvement for maximum profitability. A soon-to-be published author, Rita regularly speaks at industry conferences around the world. You can contact Rita on twitter at @rita_trehan and connect with her via LinkedIn. Rita’s blog can be found at www.ritatrehan.com.

Heading to the Sunshine State! #SHRM14 Preview

Posted on June 11th, by Jennifer Payne in Community and Connection, SHRM Chapters and Conferences. 1 Comment

It’s hard to believe, but the 2014 SHRM Annual Conference is only about a week and a half away.  This year’s location is right in the heart of tourist mecca Orlando, Florida, at the Orange County Convention Center, and runs from June 22nd to the 25th.  Once again, I’ll be heading down and reporting in as part of the SHRM Social Media and blogging team.


One would think that the location alone and general ease of travel from most points to the Orlando area could tend to draw quite a crowd, especially anyone with an affinity towards anything Mickey, Harry Potter, or anything else Disney or Universal Studios related.  But beyond the obvious entertainment value draw, hopefully attendees of this annual gathering of all things Human Resources will walk away refreshed and recharged with at least a few new ideas and a few new connections in their network.


This year’s general session keynotes, as always, are big name speakers who are brought in to inspire and motivate us as attendees to look beyond the day to day functions of our jobs and consider larger business and global issues and trends, and how we can be making a bigger impact not only as HR professionals, but as business professionals.  I’ll be highlighting key points from each of those speakers: Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts, NY Times columnist and  author Tom Friedman, CEO of Yum! Brands David Novak, and Former First Lady Laura Bush.


I also plan to hit at least a few of the concurrent sessions.  These are where much of the practical tips, tricks, and lessons learned are shared, often by fellow practitioners who are or have been right there in the trenches with attendees.  I’ll be sharing some of the highlights of those sessions as well.


One of the new and exciting components of this year’s conference is The Connection Zone, an evolution of what had been known as The Hive in conferences of late.  The Connection Zone is a place for attendees to come to well, as the name suggests, connect.  Within The Connection Zone will be the Smart Stage where 15-18 minute TED-like talks will be given on a variety of topics.  I’ll be joining in the fun and speaking on “So I’m a Time Starved HR Practitioner….Why Should I Care About Social Media?” at 10:20 on Monday morning.  Stop by if the topic interests you, or even just to say hi (there will be able Q&A and networking time after the presentations).


And of course, we can’t forget about the networking and social opportunities, which abound at a conference such as this.  One that’s not to be missed is the #SHRM14 Social Bash, happening Monday night at the Hard Rock Café at Universal CityWalk.  Back by popular demand after last year’s success, DJ Jazzy Jeff (yes, THAT Jazzy Jeff) will be once again spinning tunes at what’s sure to be the highlight of the conference social scene.  And what better way to get to know your new connections better than dancing and singing along to all of your favorite party tunes together?


So if you’re attending the conference, be sure to engage in all of the opportunities available to you.  Tweet along with the #SHRM14 hashtag; last year we managed to trend on Twitter, let’s see if we can do it again!  If you’re not able to attend, check back here throughout the conference as I’ll be posting updates on what’s happening, and what’s being talked about.  And follow the hashtag on Twitter for instant, real-time updates too!


See you in Orlando!


About the Author: Jennifer Payne, SPHR has over 16 years of HR experience in employee relations, talent acquisition, and learning & development, and currently works in talent management in the retail grocery industry.  She is one of the co-founders of Women of HR, and is currently the Editor of the site. You can connect with her on Twitter as @JennyJensHR and on LinkedIn.

Politics in the Workplace: How Women Can Embrace the Struggle and Use It To Get Ahead

Posted on April 8th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace, Career Advice. 1 Comment

Politics can make or break your career. If you are working really hard and want to get ahead, you certainly don’t want to be passed over or pushed aside, right? Well then, let this be a wake-up call for you. You need to get “real” when it comes to how you fit into the current culture of your organization.  You need to take a good hard look at whether or not you have the political savvy to thrive in such an environment.

The reality is that you cannot afford to ignore the politics if you have any aspirations for advancement. Yes, hard work is important.  Yes, performance is important. That being said, once you reach a certain level of technical competence, politics is what makes the difference for your career success. This is especially important for women to understand. To our detriment, we continue to avoid workplace politics and set ourselves up to being blindsided and passed over for promotions.

Every organization has unique political dynamics. You have to be willing and capable of adapting in order to not only get ahead, but stay ahead.

So, how do you become politically savvy? You need to observe, listen, and ask questions.

Who is getting promoted and why?

With whom do they have relationships?

How are people rewarded in your organization?

What did they do to get noticed?

What types of behaviors are not rewarded?

Who can be your champion?

Who seems to be in “favor” and why?

Are there certain people who have access to the leadership team?

The willingness to accept the importance of workplace politics for your career advancement opens the door for you to learn how best to navigate the political landscape. It prepares you to learn the political skill necessary to thrive in your organization.

Here are the five things you must do to master the political realities of the workplace:

  1. Self-promote. You need to identify your value proposition; the unique way you do the work that contributes to successful business outcomes. This is the foundation of savvy self-promotion. Knowing your contribution to the business helps you to build relationships of trust and influence by aligning your value proposition with what others want and need.
  2. Observe the work environment. You need to develop keen observation skills to see beyond the organizational chart and identify who really has the power and influence.
  3. Build a strategic network. An expansive and strong network helps you to do your job better and also avoid blindsides. Relationships with influencers helps position you for success. Build and nurture relationships with people who can have a positive impact on your career.
  4. Find a sponsor. This is the fastest and most efficient way to navigate the politics and get to the top of your organization. A sponsor will protect you and promote you within the organization.
  5. Hire a coach. A coach helps you to understand your unique value proposition and shows you how to promote and position yourself across the organization with a sound strategic plan.

You must ask yourself where you would be today if you were more savvy and tuned into the way decisions are made in your company.

And most importantly, what is possible for you in the future if you are willing to learn how to effectively navigate the realities of the workplace?


Photo credit

About the Author: Bonnie Marcus is an executive coach, international speaker, writer and award-winning entrepreneur. Marcus runs the online platform “Women’s Success Coaching,” which Forbes listed as one of the top 100 websites for women three years in a row, and is the long-time  host of the CBS syndicated radio show “GPS Your Career: A Woman’s Guide to Success.” A regular Forbes contributor, Marcus has also been featured in The Wall Street Journal, CIO Magazine, Diversity MBA and WomenEntrepreneur. For more information visit www.womensuccesscoaching.com


Do You Have What It Takes To Retain Good Talent?

Posted on November 21st, by Rowena Morais in Business and Workplace. 3 comments

In his latest article, Winning the War for Talent 2.0 in Malaysia1, Professor Sattar Bawany of the Centre for Executive Education in Singapore comments:

“Lower your prices and competitors will follow.  Go after a lucrative market and someone is there right after you, careful to avoid making your initial mistakes.  But replicating a high-quality, highly engaged workforce is nearly impossible.  The ability to effectively hire, retain, deploy and engage talent—at all levels—is really the only true competitive advantage an organisation possesses.”

I would hazard a guess that most of you agree with this statement. However, it’s what you do about it that actually makes the critical difference in your life and in the lives of the people you lead.

And so, what do you know?

Whether you’re big business or not, you understand that the workforce of today is not the same as that of yesteryears and that you need to learn how to adapt to that reality and engage with talent in a way that they can appreciate. Therefore, while it is important for you to pay attention to your strategic direction, the globalisation of your services, the need to constantly refine and develop your product and the ever-changing bottom line, you also need to place enough emphasis on the people front. The people you choose to bring in – these are the people who choose to work with you and for you.

Some of you have more resources at your disposal than others, but there is a lot that you can do to ensure you attract and retain good talent that isn’t contingent on the money you  choose to throw at them or the size of your company.

There’s this ongoing debate around how the Gen Y ought to be managed, how they profess loyalty not unto their employer but unto themselves. I feel that at times, some of the emotion behind such debate is a little off center.

Those who are brought up in a different era will undoubtedly look at things in a different vein. Ultimately however, it should not matter if Gen Y want more autonomy, more information flow or more assignments that truly stretch. What matters is that you can’t force others into a box and make them into little mini-me’s. You can’t judge them according to the standards you grew up in.  These differences in the workforce are the result of change, change that you have to accept is part and parcel of development, innovation and advancement. Change resulting from being in a different time and place, of the face of the market and of the pervasive influx of technology in your lives and the consequent ripple effects. Your job, as leaders, is to find a way to make things work, to make your organisations relevant and inspiring and to align the goals of your organisation with that of the individuals you seek to bring to it.

So, how do you find, retain and grow good talent?


1.Networking is critical to ensuring you are able to find good talent

You open yourself up to a bigger source of good talent, and one that is not entirely reliant on your efforts alone. Others are on a search similar to you. They will have different experiences, they may get burnt, learn a lesson or two and be willing to share their story. They may have some good experiences and be willing to let you in. But there is a real skill involved in networking effectively. For one, you need to integrate your efforts online and offline. Spread your reach. Secondly, if you want to be noticed and if you want assistance, the best chance you have is when you decide to focus on giving before getting. See how you can be of benefit to your network. Thirdly, developing your network goes beyond simply introducing yourself via social media or asking people to recommend you or give references. It involves real connection, one that is established at a deeper level and which makes it clear to the other party that you are not taking a copy/paste approach to developing relationships. With practice and driven by the value you can create for others, you may be able to reap rewards by establishing and maintaining your network.


2. Employment references are an important part of this  process

Yes,  there are limitations to the use of references. You are only likely to provide a reference from someone who is willing to provide a glowing report. The chances are high that you can get a friend or colleague to provide such references.  Given these factors, you would therefore want to put in place systems that can overcome some of the limitations of the employment reference. For example, you could do a reference check on the person providing the reference : Is he who he says he is? Bottom line, you don’t rely on references exclusively.


3. You need to develop the skills to find the talent who aren’t looking for you

Let’s face it – if they are good at what they do, chances are they are gainfully employed, very much engaged and they are not looking to move. That is not to say that you have no hope of getting them over. Locating these great talent will take time and may not be smooth sailing but anything’s possible. Be careful though : you need to ensure, before you start, that you are able to make a compelling case for them to reconsider their options.


4. Can you identify good talent when you’re face to face with them?

This is both an art and a science. You need to know not just what to assess but how best to do so. As Carol Quinn argued, in The Truth in Interview Part I2,


“Applicants are learning more about getting a job than interviewers are learning about hiring”.


Skills in itself are not an accurate indicator of job performance. And at some stage, you might  have come across the skilled applicant, who was able to outsmart the interviewer and present a picture of herself that, in the final analysis, did not match reality. The question therefore is whether, as an interviewer, you are able to ascertain what you need to look for and have the tools to do so.


5. Understand the importance of employer branding

You put all the things you need in place. You build up a picture of who, you as an organisation, are. You reach out on various platforms – website, social media, offline networks – to create and maintain this consistent image. You understand the value in doing this, you nurture this delicately and hope to build on your successes, layering on, significant ideas of who you are, as an organisation, hoping that it matches the impressions created in the marketplace.


6. You remember the team in place

You remember one thing : the talent you already have in place. These are your brand ambassadors and they too have their own network. You don’t lose sight of this fact as you work to ensure that the impressions you create about who you are, needs hold true internally, within the organisation as well. Failing which, disaster may strike.


7. Wherein lies your focus?

Finding good talent is impacted by your focus areas. Sometimes, it may be easy to forget that everyone brings something to the table. We may each have our weaknesses and no doubt, these should be addressed but the strength movement, is one based on sound principle.  Marcus Buckingham, author of published bestsellers, ‘First, Break all the Rules‘ and ‘Now, Discover your Strengths’ is right in asserting that it’s far more about harnessing the best of what you bring to the organisation than addressing what is weak within the individual.


“Since the greatest room for each person’s growth is in the areas of his greatest strength, you should focus your training time and money on educating him about his strengths and figuring out ways to build on these strengths rather than on remedially trying to plug his ‘skill gaps.’ You will find that this one shift in emphasis will pay huge dividends. In one fell swoop you will sidestep three potential pitfalls to building a strengths-based organization: the ‘I don’t have the skills and knowledge I need’ problem, the ‘I don’t know what I’m best at’ problem, and the ‘my manager doesn’t know what I’m best at’ problem.”
Donald O. Clifton, Now, Discover Your Strengths


In the end, you take the best of what you have to offer and make that compelling to the talent you seek to bring in. None of this is rocket science. Talent management frameworks have their place and significance but this is about making real connections, about being human in how you treat people and in seeing the relationship for what it is.

If you can do that, if you can connect authentically with your talent, if you can make them see the vision you have for your organisation, if you can put this across well and see how you can align what you want to achieve, with the growth paths your people are on, that alignment will create a world of wonder, passion and engagement.


1 Appeared in the October 2013 issue of HR Matters Magazine

2 The Truth in Interview Part I

Photo credit


Rowena Morais is the Editor of HR Matters  Magazine, a quarterly print publication aimed at Human Resource  professionals.  She is also the co-founder and Programme Director at Flipside, a business services company with offices in Malaysia and Singapore, providing professional  certification training. Here, she provides strategic direction as well as  oversight on client training and corporate functional  areas. Rowena blogs about developing habits, execution, growth and personal  development. She lives in Kuala Lumpur with her husband, two  young kids and now, a newborn. Connect with Rowena at editor@hr-matters.info.

Can You Meet For a Cup of Coffee?

Posted on October 29th, by Debbie Brown in Career Advice, Career Transitions, Networks, Mentors and Career. No Comments

Ever get that call from a former colleague or someone you recently met at a conference asking for that “cup of coffee?”  It is typically a code name for a job search, and I believe we should all be saying yes and be willing to support others in their quest.

But this post is not speaking to those of us taking the call – it is speaking to the caller.

Yes caller- I mean you- and how you may do a better job preparing for those coffee meetings so they are productive for both.  It surprises me how often I meet with people who are uncomfortable with or unsure how to make the most of our meeting.  Here are some suggestions for you to consider to make the meeting productive:

1. Have a target list of companies of interest in the industries you are pursuing.

When I meet with people that come to the table with a target list it helps me think of people I know to connect them to. These people may not be in the exact companies you list, however they will most likely be in the same industry. If you are a generalist that can cross industries that is great, however keep in mind that this list will help trigger new connections for you, which is why it is so important to prepare one.


2. Research the LinkedIn network for who you are meeting with to identify potential contacts of interest.

Connect on LinkedIn if you are not already connected and read through the contacts and make a list of who would like to connect to. We all know LinkedIn relationships vary across a spectrum, so the more names you identify the better your odds are of meeting more people.


3. Have jobs you are applying for handy with explanations for the feedback you are getting.

This could provide an opportunity for coaching and also prompt further discussions about potential opportunities.


4. Have an idea for how you may be able to help the person you are meeting with.

This one may go without saying, however  many people  do not do this . Even if the person you are meeting with says they cannot think of anything in the moment, I have been impressed with people that say that they have thought of a few things on their own (which may be handy in the future).


There are so many positive outcomes that can come out of a job search.  What are some of the best (and worst) experiences you have had from requesting or agreeing to a cup of coffee?


Debbie Brown is a Senior Sales Executive in Analytics, Software and Services . The majority of her career has been spent managing people and teams in software and services provided to the HR industry. Debbie enjoys sharing leadership best practices and as an avid reader is always happy to share great book recommendations. You can connect with Debbie on Twitter as @DebbieJBrown.






Approaching a Job Search after a Termination or Layoff

It’s usually easy to spot: the nervous jitters as he talks about his most recent position, the disdain he is clearly trying to hide about his supervisor or colleagues, the glossing over of the actual job conclusion.  By the time I ask, “ so what prompted you to leave” or “what brings you in today,” I can almost recite the words that always include “laid-off”, “let go”, “downsizing”,  “bad manager”, etc.  As a career coach, I encounter a myriad of clients who have a gap in their employment history.  Typically these clients address this issue with me in one of two ways.  They either shy away from the topic (think example above) to avoid mentioning it until half way through the appointment, after the resume review, or they bring it up immediately and we spend the better part of an hour talking about this event that has defined them for the past several months of the job search.

The whole “defining” aspect of a termination is the problem and the number one factor that gets in a job seeker’s way between knowing Ellen’s guest line-up on any given Tuesday and signing an offer letter.  Whether you actually introduce it at the forefront of every conversation that has a slight hint of a networking component OR you skirt away from this part of your past like you have a cousin in the mafia and are in witness protection, the emotion is the same – shame.  Shame seeps from every pore of your being if you let it.  It portrays a desperate need for any job and scares the heck out of any recruiter, hiring manager, or potential colleague.

So what is an innocent, talented, recently laid off employee to do?  Take a week off to sulk, lick your wounds, replay all of the unfair aspects surrounding the lay-off, and talk your nearest and dearest ears’ off about the numerous ways you saved the company X amount of dollars and are so much more talented than Ted in accounting, and then stop.  Stop venting.  Stop sulking.  Stop watching fluff TV all day.  Now follow these steps:

1.)    Wake up on Monday of week 2 post lay-off and go to a coffee shop.  Look around, watch the birds outside, read the business journals, and write down 10 jobs you want (in your field), and 10 companies you want to work for.  The key here is want.  This is your chance to choose where you want to and should be.  Don’t take this task lightly.

2.)    Then go on LinkedIn.  How does your profile look?  Is your most recent position up-to-date with the amazing achievements you accomplished?  How is your picture? Meaning: Is it professional (not a shot of you with your significant other cropped out from a high school reunion) and has it been taken in the past 5 years?

3.)    Now start reaching out.  Ask first degree contacts out to coffee.  Talk to them honestly and authentically about what happened, what you think you are good at, where you want to be, and ask for help.  People want to help.  Really they do.  Sometimes they just need permission to actually offer it.

4.)    Next do searches for contacts at companies you’re targeting.  Use LinkedIn groups as a resource to a whole new community of contacts and search those groups by job function or company. Then invite these potential contacts to coffee and do the same.  Be authentic, and give them the gist of the fact that your company had a downsizing and you are now focusing on these specific roles at companies like the one they work for.

5.)    Lastly explore the job aggregators.  What’s out there? What is trending?  Who seems to be hiring?  Apply appropriately and then circle back to step 4.

In a follow-up post I’ll advise on how to talk about a layoff to employers during an interview.  The main thing to remember about starting a job search after a termination is that this is an event that happened but you don’t have to let it keep happening to you every time you talk to someone.  Let the emotions that surrounded the event go and focus on all of the value you brought to your roles and the value you have to share with a future employer.  Surround yourself with people who remind you of your amazing attributes, read books and articles, and broaden your industry and business knowledge.  Oh yes, and by all means, turn off daytime television.


Photo credit iStockphoto


Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), and  Brooks Institute, a well-known film, photography, and design school where she served as Director of Career and Student Services.  She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR, and Job Dig.



The Rise of Online Networking Groups

Posted on March 13th, by a Guest Contributor in Business and Workplace. 1 Comment

My Facebook feed is currently full of pictures of cute kiddies, loved-up statuses and Instagram-frosted cupcakes. Yet when I recently obtained a Master’s degree from an overseas university, in a ceremony which took place in Spanish and Catalan (two of the four languages I speak), I hesitated to upload the photos to my account. If the internet is supposed to be the 21st century’s great equaliser, why does online etiquette still dictate that women can brag about their love lives, but not their careers?

Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Internet networking groups are creating a safe space for women to voice their achievements and concerns, create contacts and support each other in blazing new career trails. If you’re not comfortable blowing your trumpet all over your standard Facebook feed, why not look at joining a group which allows you to do so in a more receptive online environment?

Networking groups mean social media can become great ways to share ideas and professional contacts – not just pictures of wedding dresses. Group London Women Mean Business, for example, began after organiser Melanie Berenblut posted the simple phrase “Would anyone be interested in meeting up to network?” on LinkedIn. As well as creating space for online debate, such groups often hold regular events, and so also serve to facilitate real-life networking.

Online networking groups may be particularly relevant for women looking to break into traditionally male-dominated careers. If knowing your HRMS

from your HTML is all in a day’s work (or you’d like it to be), you might particularly appreciate the existence of groups such as Girl Geeks and GeekGirlMeetup, which provide a diverse mix of online seminars, real-life unconferences and hashtags for women everywhere from Oslo to Oxford.

Website Meetup.com, traditionally used for organising leisure pursuits, is also being used to the advantage of women looking for professional opportunities. As the Women in Science and Engineering group in Melbourne puts it, “We can discuss everything from our research to our shoes… it is whatever we want it to be.”

With the advent of the internet, no woman need be an island. But how we use it to connect depends very much on us. Newly-obtained haircuts, offspring and domestic skills are real achievements as much as anything else, and have their place. The problem comes when we let our professional triumphs and accolades fall by the wayside. The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes.

“The internet is an infinitely powerful tool – let’s start using it to make connections as well as cupcakes”

Bio: Penelope Labram is currently Content Manager for international job search website JobisJob, which has its seat in Barcelona, Spain. As such, she has her finger firmly pressed to the pulse of trends in recruitment, the labour market and social media. She is strongly committed to helping women use technology to further their career. You can follow her @jobisjob.

Photo credit: iStockphoto


{Random Encounters} Build a Connection and Find a Job

Posted on March 5th, by Nisha Raghavan in Women of HR Series: Random Encounters. Comments Off on {Random Encounters} Build a Connection and Find a Job

One of my favorite things to do to pass time when I travel is observe people and strike up conversations with total strangers. And it has often worked for me in several ways, be it on my flight when I travel, while at the bus stop or when I am at places that I have never been before.

Strike up a conversation

I know some of us may not be comfortable talking to strangers and it is just the way we are. But I understand that I am making myself approachable and likable to the other person by making a small friendly gesture, an eye to eye contact, a smile, talking about the weather or probably sharing a story or experience about me which somehow relates to them. This can help them open up their mind, start a conversation and share something that is of common interest.

Life is quite often like this. Every day we meet someone who wants to know about somebody or who knows somebody that we want to know about. And as an HR professional who loves to network, I always keep this in mind. Not just to connect with others with an ulterior motive but to learn something new, some experience that I never dealt with before or probably help each other out by sharing experiences that help us grow as a person.

 Stories help you build connection!

I know of an incident that happened not to me but to one of my close friends while she was on her journey from Dallas, Texas to Tampa, Florida. As it turned out, the two hour journey helped land her a job when she got talking to a lady sitting next to her. Fortunately for her

that random person on that flight was a recruiter. She sparked up a conversation seeing the PHR Prep book in the hands of that recruiter. This helped her understand that the lady was an HR professional and they started talking about job searches and interview processes in different companies. She indicated that she is looking for a position in health care industry. Unfortunately, the recruiter was a headhunter in the financial industry.

But to her surprise when my friend got back home, she received an interview call from another recruiter who happened to be friends with the lady she met on the flight. And my friend got that job. How cool is that?

I am sure they might have felt much more comfortable talking to each other in a casual manner rather than sitting in an interview room across each other or at a crowded networking event.

So start striking up conversations and build connections, you may never know who knows who!

Have you had any experience like this? Would love to hear from you!

About the author: Nisha Raghavan is the author of Your HR Buddy blog and a co-host of DriveThru HR. A former HR Generalist with extensive experience in Talent Management and Development, she specializes and writes about Employee Relations, Organization Development and how companies can keep their employees more engaged through Employee Engagement Initiatives. Her experience in the corporate world was as an HR Deputy Manager at Reliance Communications Limited, India.


Eliminating Business Card Clutter

Posted on October 2nd, by Maggie Tomas in Community and Connection. Comments Off on Eliminating Business Card Clutter

You know the routine. You attend a networking event, professional conference, association meeting and collect a bucket load of 2 x 3 inch business cards from a collection of professionals, ranging from the gentleman who sat next to you at breakfast to an engaging mentor-worthy executive.  Then the event ends and you transport the business cards from your suit pocket to your work bag and forget about them until you arrive to work the next morning.

Now what?

Traditional networking wisdom would tell you to take the time in the next couple of days to log each contact’s information onto a spreadsheet and then follow up with an email (and log that too).  Sound like a lot of work?  Probably because it is and the fact that it is time consuming and really not top of mind (after all the conference is over and you have a stack of work to get to done) leads to a high likelihood of business card abandonment.

A better way to deal with a stack of business cards is to embrace social media to make your life easier.  I constantly hear colleagues, friends, and family lamenting the main social sites calling them a time-zappers when really if used effectively they can be a time saver.

Below are a couple of tips for how to manage newly made contacts that will not consume your time for half a morning.

  • Business card reader apps. If you have a smart phone or tablet then you can utilize this immediately.  After collecting a business card you can take a photo of it and it will automatically be added to your phone contacts.  Some of these apps go so far as finding the contact on LinkedIn and sending them a connection request.  How is that for a time saver?
  • In the moment notes. Immediatel

    y after you collect someone’s card, take 30 seconds to jot down something you learned about them on the back of the card.  This will help you remember what was meaningful about this particular person. Trust me after a long day of networking many of these contacts will blur together and you may remember that someone has a daughter at UCLA and loves mountain bike riding but deciphering if it was Cindy at GM or Greg from Target will be more challenging.

  • Connections through LinkedIn. Instead of taking the time to enter contact information on a spreadsheet, invest that time by finding your contacts on LinkedIn and sending a connection request with a personal message that refers to something you learned about them (jotted down on the back of the business card- see point 2) when you met.

Remember, the point of sharing business cards isn’t to increase the number of contacts on your spreadsheets. Business card exchanges are solely for staying connected. Utilize social media  and allow relationship building and productivity to co-exist.

What has worked for you?

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and  Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services.  She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR and Job Dig.


5 Networking Tips When You Don’t Have Time to Network

Posted on August 30th, by Maggie Tomas in Community and Connection. Comments Off on 5 Networking Tips When You Don’t Have Time to Network

The statistics spouting the importance of networking are sprinkled in every career article from the small college newsletter to major international publications.   We all feel the pressure to expand our network, meet new people and make a stellar first impression.

As a career coach working with MBA students who are looking to get connected in the business world, the most common question I encounter is about networking.  In this tough economy many of students I work with are also juggling multiple roles such as full time professional, involved parent or caretaker. I often get an exasperated look when I bring up the importance of networking because the thought of adding another item to an already full to – do list is overwhelming.

Here are some of the best, most applicable, tips on how to network with limited time.

  1. Be prepared. You don’t have time to waste so come to any networking event with a plan. Know who is going to be attending, look them up on LinkedIn, find any commonalities you have to discuss, and then make the connection.  This creates meaningful networking and allows you to leave at a reasonable time because you had a plan of attack.
  2. Be focused. I say this because I have been there, in the moment at a networking event, and all I can think of is my kids waiting for me at home, the school project that needs to be done or the paper that isn’t yet written. That makes the networking meaningless because your mind is elsewhere and you won’t appear genuine.  You might as well have not been at the event at all.  If you have taken the time to attend, then make sure to make it worthwhile and be present.
  3. Utilize an established network. When you have children at home, going  blindly to a networking event outside of your network will be more challenging and take more time, and you may not find others there who are in your same  situation (i.e. balancing mult

    iple roles).  It makes most sense to attend a networking event affiliated with your school (undergrad or grad), company or passion (think volunteer groups).

  4. Join a professional association. Yes, the dues are high but you have access to a ton of networking events each month and you can pick and choose which events best fit your life and schedule.  Many are breakfast events which are the best way to squeeze in a little professional networking during a jam packed day without impacting your “at home” or “at work” responsibilities.
  5. Network everywhere. A dear friend of mine from California recently networked her way into her dream job.  How?  She met the hiring manager at her daughter’s toddler dance class!  She started chatting with the other parents, made a great contact, kept in touch, one thing led to another and voila!  Networking as a parent is unique in that many of the people who are sitting next to you at your son or daughter’s after school events are also professionals and may be able to impact your career.

Ultimately networking is about building relationships.  As a business professional there is nothing that will impact your career success more than having a strong network.  Make time for growing your network in a way that works for you.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

About the author: Maggie Tomas works at the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota as Associate Director and Career Coach in the Graduate Business Career Services office. Her background includes teaching and career counseling at the college level, namely at the University of St. Thomas, University of California Santa Barbara, and  Brooks Institute, where she served as Director of Career and Student Services.  She is a contributing writer to several blogs and publications including Opus Magnum, Women of HR and Job Dig.