I originally wrote this for the #SHRM15 conference, but it still applies to #SHRM18 which starts next week.
I have written a number of times that the future of HR is to keep the “human” in human resources. As technology advances and jobs consisting of tasks become increasingly automated the one area that will not be automated is that of “relationships.”
Steve Browne, the Executive Director of HR for LaRosa, Inc., is acknowledged by many to be one of the most “networked” people in HR. Reading his LinkedIn profile recommendations you get a good feel for how important relationship are to him. In a recent conversation, we were talking about how we were looking forward to seeing each other at the upcoming SHRM national conference being held in Las Vegas next week. He is a speaker and I am part of the official blogging team.
I said to him that it will be good to see him again in “real life.” I made the comment that though we have connections through social media it is always good to meet face-to-face and hand-to-hand. Having done that makes the social media relationship seem all the better because you have a personal connection. He said, enthusiastically, “I agree.” I then said that “In my opinion, the future of HR is going to be in our ability to form those relationships.” He then again said enthusiastically, (Steve is always enthusiastic) that I should write about that for one of my Future Friday posts as an intro to the conference.
Your future can start at the conference
It is a safe bet that in the next decade many HR jobs that are tasked based will be taken over by automation. That is pretty much a given and if you have one of those jobs you should be shaking in your boots. The jobs that will be preserved are those where the relationship you have with others is important. Your ability to understand the human component and to form a network both inside and outside your company is what will keep you employed. It is not just about what you know; it is also about who you know. You can increase both areas by attending the #SHRM15 conference. We all go for knowledge by attending sessions. But it is a superb opportunity to increase who you know as well.
Let me give you some of my tips for expanding your relationships at the conference.
- Drop the “I am very shy” excuse not to talk to people. If you cannot talk to people you need to find another career. I am not saying you have to be extroverted to the point of dancing on stage. You just need to be willing to say to the person you are standing beside “Hi, I am Mike Haberman and I am from Atlanta.” (Of course, I would suggest you use your name, having a bunch of Mike Haberman’s running around would get confusing.)
- Make sure you take plenty of business cards with you AND make sure you get business cards from the people you meet. If you are in a concurrent session you will be sitting around others in the session. You will have a reason to connect to someone in the future, if for no other reason than to perhaps get a piece of information you missed from the session. Make a note on the back of their card what session you met them in so you can reference that later.
- When you return home find them on social media, particularly LinkedIn. Connect with them, saying “Hey we met at SHRM in Vegas in the session on ____ and I would like to connect. “ As a result, you will build a network of people you have actually met, as opposed to many LinkedIn connections, and people you know you have a common interest with. If they have Twitter accounts you can try to find them there as well.
- Remember them as a “conference connection” and reach out to them occasionally.
If you follow these four steps in building your relationships with other professionals you will become more valuable where you are working. Demonstrating your “connectedness” occasionally by saying “I was talking to someone I met at the conference and what they are experiencing is….” will bring some value to you. You are a person with connections.
These tips also apply to people you meet in the exhibit hall. Yes, vendors are people too and they know a lot about stuff you don’t. Learn from them and connect.
Of course, there is other value that comes from relationships, but that is material for another post. Get out there and work the conference for now.
By the way, anyone that meets me I expect to have you try to connect with me. We will both be better off for it.
Photo by imagerymajestic.