As a business owner, I have always had to engage in networking. I began my career working in a law firm. I learned very quickly that the path to partnership involved moving from someone who did good work to someone who could build new and long-lasting client relationships. And while becoming a lawyer never interested me, the notion of building a HR practice that used a similar structure did.
In Canada, there’s nothing more distasteful than a lawyer who sells. Selling is something that must be done with subtlety. The Law Society sets significant rules on advertising and marketing. As a result, it is rare to see much in the way of overt selling. In fact, Torontonians know they have crossed the border and are in Buffalo when they start to see the billboards for all the law firms.
On the distasteful scale, in a not-so-distant second place are HR professionals who sell. After all, we too are part of an Association or Society. We gain credentials, build expertise, and build teams. Our work is more likely performed in-house than at a Firm. And while we don’t have the same restrictions on selling as the lawyers, culturally we are much more effective by networking than by using other sales management practices.
You can’t imagine my joy when LinkedIn was released. I joined in early 2005 and gravitated to it immediately. I loved the initial rules it established about networking, some of which, disappointingly, have been broken:
- Connect only with people you know and trust.
- Find the people you wish to meet and learn how many degrees there are between you.
- Meet new people through introductions.
- Engage off-line. Social media is the tool for networking but the act of using it isn’t networking.
- Networking is about giving, not receiving.
Knowing that I hold these philosophies about networking, then you have to believe that I was not-so-keen on using Twitter. That is, until I met Sherri Rossi (now a TEC employee) and she introduced me to #HRevolution.
I did not attend #HRevolution in 2010. I wasn’t seasoned enough in Twitter to truly understand its power and value. I followed the #hrevolution hashtag throughout the conference and afterward. I began to follow complete strangers, something I found dangerous and interesting at the same time. I found myself engaging with people who were HR bloggers, HR philosophers, HR parents, HR pet owners, HR bakers, HR metal heads, and HR stand-up comedians. They sent tweets about bacon, dinner plans and music lyrics. They told me about great job search tools including #hirefriday and #jobhuntchat which I have shared with the EO List group. Most of all, they were passionate about all-things HR, and together they have created a community that otherwise would not have existed.
I don’t think the EO List would’ve gone to a full website had it not been for learning about all the existing blogs on Twitter, as well as encouragement from some of the top bloggers in the HR profession.
I did not get into Twitter with the notion of selling, but it has boosted my business. Most often this has occurred because of seeing the right tweet at the right time. I knew some day that having both U.S. and Canadian citizenship and HR training would pay off, and in a Twitter context, it has.
This weekend, I am headed to Atlanta for the 2011 #HRevolution. I am looking forward to meeting the complete cast of characters including: @lisarosendahl, @robinschooling, @hrstalker, @beneubanks, @trishmcfarlane, @controllergirl, @cigarsphr, @stevebrowne, @akabruno, @williamtincup, @hrminion, @joanginsberg, and @victoriomilian.
If you’re curious about the context in which Twitter can help you, follow #hrevolution and engage.