Getting Off The Island

Castaway. Blue Lagoon. Gilligan’s Island.

When you think back to many of the movies or shows about being shipwrecked and stranded on an island, the key theme is always how will the person or people get off the island.

Well, being successful in business is no different. For a long time, I was the only HR person supporting a large group of employees in the accounting industry and I often felt like I was on an island.  The more I felt like an island, the more I tried to find ways to connect with my colleagues in HR from other cities. Why? One, I was lonely and needed the camaraderie and two, I knew that in order to be more successful, I needed to partner and collaborate with other professionals.

I’m often asked why I believe social media is valuable.  Being able to connect and collaborate with other HR professionals is one of the most valuable benefits of networking with other pros online.

How many of you are the sole HR practitioner in your office?  In your company?  By finding sites like Women of HR, other blogs,  HR online communities, Twitter, LinkedIn groups, etc., we are giving ourselves the ticket off the island and to success.  When you think about literally being stranded on an island, it’s all about how you’ll survive.  Sure, you get to make all the decisions, but just think of how your impact is compounded when you have a team of strong people to rely on who can help you with those decisions.  It’s gold.

I know that networking in person or online can be challenging for many women.  It’s because you have to let your guard down and trust that it will be beneficial.  You have to be willing to do it so that you have the relationships you need later when you want someone to collaborate with or to bounce an idea off of.  So, if you are a solo practitioner, a consultant that doesn’t have a business partner, someone in between jobs, or someone new to this whole new media world, get off the island…

Here’s your raft.


About the Author

Trisha McFarlane

Trish McFarlane is the Director of HR for Perficient, an IT management consulting firm. With 15 years of experience in Human Resources, Trish is a sought after speaker on human resources and social media and co-founder of HRevolution. She's also a working mother of 8-year-old twins who keep her busy when she's not in the trenches of HR. Trisha blogs at HRRingleader. You can connect with Trisha on Twitter as @TrishMcFarlane and on LinkedIn.


Kimberly Roden

I definitely agree that it can be an isolating feeling in HR. I’ve been a solo practitioner for most of my career and there were times it’s been an uphill battle. Social media has really played a big part in validating what I already believe in about HR and people in general. I have gotten so many rich take-a-ways from interacting online than I ever have at my local SHRM meetings. Not sure if it’s geography but my local SHRM meetings are stuffy, dull and boring. Up until a few years ago, I really wasn’t sure how I was going to survive in this world of HR. Social media has opened up an entire new world for me with regard to HR…one click away from real interaction and the hottest new ideas — what’s not to love?

Debbie Brown

Great post Trish!

I think this applies to anyone who is feeling isolated in their role. it could be a remote person on a team, a manager in a standalone business, and or many other examples. How you show up each day is up to you and what you make of it. Choose to engage with the outside world and bring back great ideas to your role- there are so many great people out here!

John Jorgensen

Trish, great comparison. I can understand how it might be more difficult for women but it can easily applied to both sexes. When I was a sole HR person in a company, the networking groups I was affliliated with (HR roundtables, SHRM chapters) was a lifeline. Social media has added to that list in a great way.

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