Conferences and Seminars
Take advantage of workshops at conferences and seminars to help you manage your staff better and increase your HR knowledge. These sessions are usually held at hotels or conference centers and you can find them nationwide. Here are some of the companies that can help you update your expertise:
Some offer online training, and you'll find webcasts at HR.com. Consider courses and workshops on the following topics:
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance
Equal Opportunity Employer (EEO) Compliance
E-mail and Internet Policy Compliance
Fair Hiring Practices
Interviewing and Recruiting
Surveillance and Privacy in the Workplace
Training and Development
Attending an annual wage-and-hour-law update seminar every year is one of the wisest investments you can make in your career, whether or not your focus is HR. Take any supervisors you have on staff with you. Wage and hour laws change yearly and are state specific. These courses keep you up to date with what's new for the year.
Many conferences and seminars include lunch with the registration fee. You will also see vendor booths from companies that offer services beneficial to human resource professionals. Bring a stack of business cards with you to distribute as you network with other professionals.
How to Work a Room
Networking is commonly referred to as working a room. Recent research confirms that first impressions are established within thirty seconds of meeting someone. It's easiest to make the right impression the first time, rather than try to repair a poor impression later. Your handshake should be firm and confident, but not too hard. Maintain direct eye contact and speak clearly. Think about the image you want to project, then project it. Be the person that others will want to meet and get to know better.
How can I start a conversation with a stranger?
Nametags usually indicate where someone works, so you can comment about the company or city. People love to talk about themselves and open-ended questions will encourage them to engage in conversation. Chances are the person you approached is just as nervous about meeting new people as you are and will welcome your initiative.
You may see some of the presenters and speakers while you're mingling in the halls or exhibit areas. Read about their credentials and background in the conference brochure and introduce yourself while impressing them with the knowledge you have about them. You may meet again at another conference and be remembered. This is what networking is all about.
If you see someone who you have met before but can't remember his name, shake hands and introduce yourself. This may prompt him to do the same. If someone is with you, introduce your colleague to the person whose name you forgot, and this may trigger him to introduce himself. There is also nothing wrong with saying, “I'm sorry, but will you please remind me of your name?”
A conference or workshop is a great place to meet a mentor. This may come about when you're talking with another attendee at lunch or between workshops, and be the start to a professional relationship. When someone gives you their business card and says to call if you ever need something, take them up on the offer. A mentor is someone who surpasses you with knowledge and experience and will be a phone call or e-mail away when you come across new HR situations you aren't sure how to handle. He can share great ideas, templates for forms and letters, and a few horror stories with a “Don't let this happen to you” scenario. An effective mentor is motivational, a good listener, provides constructive feedback, and encourages self-confidence while guiding you in the right direction. Like most fields of work, human resources is one where people can learn a lot from each other.
Mentoring is a two-way street. To be the type of person that someone will want to mentor, you need to have goals, the commitment to learn without taking shortcuts, the ability to accept feedback, and the motivation to excel.
Look for Business Opportunities
The person sitting next to you at lunch could be a potential client for your company or refer you to someone who needs your services. Or you may be looking to fill a position, and a qualified person between jobs is sitting in the chair next to you. You never know what opportunities can come from people you meet at conferences. You may be able to do something for someone else, too.
It's not only what you know, but also who you know that can help you and your business. Be prepared to share contact information. Wear an outfit with pockets so that you can quickly whip out your business card without the struggles of a purse or briefcase. Show a genuine interest in getting to know others and you will be sure to reap the benefits.