4 truths every new networker needs to know

I remember walking into my first networking event – Ahhhhhhh! I remember wanting to stand against the wall and eat my free pre event snacks until the session started. Totally normal response by the way, after all these people in the room are actually out to get you and want you to leave (sarcasm).

So these are my top 4 truths about networking. Remember them next time you encounter a bout of omfg-strangers-are-scary anxiety.

Truth 1 – Striking up a conversation (or joining in) is easier than you think

It’s a networking event, 99% of people are there to talk to new people. Keep it simple, I find introducing yourself and saying “Hi I’m Cherish, nice to meet you” and asking a basic question such as “have you been to one of these events before” a good way to kick off the conversation. But what if you walk in and everyone is already in groups chatting away? Then what? Firstly if there is a snack station, go get yourself a drink, you always want to keep one hand free so you can shake hands and interact. Approach a smaller group (1-3 people) and introduce yourself. Admitting you don’t know anyone at the event is a cool ice breaker, we all know those feels and chances are the group chat you have joined.. well they met each other about 2 minutes ago as well.

There will always be the 1% of people who are just not very nice to socialise with. I’ve met them, the type of people who will give you one word answers and show very little interest in your kind attempts to get to know them. They are the exception not the rule. If you find a sunshine hater just excuse yourself and move on (more about that later).

Truth 2 – You do have something to offer 

If you have listening ears then you have something to offer. Networking is not actually about fanning people with business cards and moving on. It’s not about pitching your product, well at least not directly. It’s about getting to know people and that means a bit of active listening. Being in the moment and asking questions. There is nothing worse than talking to someone who is constantly looking away from you, looking for god knows what. It just sucks.

Be there in the moment and treat that person well. You don’t have to have all the experience to be interesting to talk to, ask questions, be interested. Stop worrying about your story and focus on understanding the experience of someone else. Naturally you will end up sharing a bit about yourself, without the stress of needing to say or be something you are not. You don’t remember people because they are experienced, you remember them because they were interesting and fun to talk to. You do have something to offer, always.

Truth 3 – It’s okay to excuse yourself from the conversation to talk to someone new

Sometimes you might spend an entire event talking to one person. But most of the time that’s not really what you are there for. It’s okay to excuse yourself from the conversation to talk to someone new. This is BY FAR the hardest part of networking because you want to leave on a positive note. This article, this one and this one all have a number of strategies you can use. You will need to build some courage, particularly if you experience a bit of social anxiety. But it is okay to detach yourself and speak to other people, that’s what you are there for.

Truth 4 – It get’s easier

With every event you attend it will get easier. You may have the urge to drag someone along that you know to every event. If so have a game plan, otherwise you will end up standing in the corner talking about your weekend and internet memes instead of getting out there and experiencing all the fun of meeting new people.

Go on, you rock – get out there!

Image credit – click here | Quote credit: click here 


The robots are coming for your job!

You walk into your favorite department store and you put on your futuristic face wear, I’m thinking something along the lines of Google Glass. Let’s imagine you are in the market for a new TV. As you put on your techwear it automatically recognises you by your unique eye features and accesses a database of your personal spending and purchasing information. In the glass you see the best route come to life to take you around the store, based on what your personal data agrees you are interested in.

dreams don't workunless you doAs you look at all the shiny TV’s, the key information that is most useful to you, pops up before your eyes. You make a nod motion and it is added to your shortlist. You continue the journey around the store, looking at items. Before your eyes are digitally created images of the item in your home and info on how it will sync to your other devices – wow!

You make a decision on what you want to purchase and with the motion of your eyes add it to your basket and pay online; cashless, easy, personal, simple. The item is ready then for pick up at the back of the store. You punch in your personal access code and along a conveyer belt comes your new TV!

Where are the sales people, the cashier, the friendly despatch team? What happened to their jobs? What are they doing now?

The following is one of my FAVORITE videos about robots taking over the earth. Well, not quite but it certainly will make you think. Let’s get thinking, the world is a changing…

AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals Wrap Up

The AHRI Brisbane Young Professionals is a subgroup of AHRI, supporting the ongoing education to early career HR professionals.

Last Tuesday (23rd July) we had another successful event for the Brisbane Young Professionals Group where we looked investigations. We were lucky enough to have Mills Oakley Lawyers sponsor the event and facilitate the event too! Employment law related events are always popular. People are always eager to learn more about this area, and we attract people from all levels of their career.Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 2.49.28 am

Despite most the YP’s in that room having Bachelor Degrees in HR / Business / Law or a related field, employment relations is still the area that generates a lot of conversation. Maybe it’s because whichever way you look at it there is always something you haven’t considered. Just when you think you know it all, something changes in the legislation and you get a weird question.

Having studied at a post-graduate level I can tell you nothing I learned about conducting workplace investigations came from my university studies. Maybe my ability to write reports in my sleep does, but that about it. Yet, it’s one of the areas that people really get stumped on, or a the very least lack confidence in! Even though it’s mostly following a process and having a sense of enquiry, determining an outcome at the end can be nerve-wracking –  what if I haven’t considered everything? Even more challenging if you are a solo practitioner.

I have been lucky enough to work in large HR teams where I wasn’t the sole HR person. That means I could learn from those more experienced than me. But sometimes people don’t have that luxury, so who do you learn from? Who do you seek support from when you need it, even if it’s just an idea to bounce off? There are an alarming amount of cases where unfair dismissal has been ruled due to an investigation being inadequate, whether it be on a technicality or because it blatantly disregarding procedural fairness.

I was particularly interested in this case summarised here which talked about a bullying complaint which was investigated and found to be unsubstantiated. As a result the employee made a complaint that the employer had not done it’s due diligence to resolve the matter. Particularly interesting in those cases of he /  said, she / said. Further curious was the point that if you do decide that you don’t have the evidence to rule either way on an investigation you need to consider the support you will offer as a result. If the employee rejects this support make a note, notes, notes notes! (your can check it all out in the linkedin article).

Even if you are the worlds best investigator at the end of the day you still need to make a decision. So with that in mind how up to date are you on your case law? Where do you get your case law information from? Are you reading the FW judgements? Do you have a subscription? Before you make a decision I would recommend asking yourself how clued in you are into what’s happening at the moment. Which is why these sessions are so good! Everything you need, explained to you, free to ask questions.

I’ve had a couple of requests for some strategy HR sessions which will be a nice change of pace. I am always on the hunt for great speakers in Brisbane, particularly an experienced Talent Management Specialist, Change Manager or HR Business Partner. If you know anyone be sure to send them my way!


AHRI (Australian Human Resources Institute)

Do you need a uniform policy?

Uniform policies for me fall somewhere in-between the policies I really think you need and the completely useless fear driven policies. I started in the working world within a quick service giant and worked my way through to becoming a Store Manager, so I feel I know first hand the pain and agony implementing this policy. Working with Team Members who are in their teens, constantly telling them to do their top button up, tuck their hair up, wear the right shoes, taking out their piercings was a daily part of the job as was the passive aggression they exuded after you told them no.

At the end of the day, I didn’t really mind if they had multiple ear piercings or blue hair. If they were excellent team players friendly to customers and looked showered and tidy, I was just like, yeah cool – I’ve got better things to do. Then my Operations Manager would come for a site inspection and I would see on my action list “address blah’s appearance, has a visible tattoo”. ehhhhhhhhhh.

I think in the grand scheme of business issues uniform adherence is not something I rate highly, as in it’s not a conversation I have much time for. It’s a simple a conversation I want to exit quickly. I don’t want to sit there discussing how you feel about a specific part of company uniform – just do it, you accepted the job, it’s not exactly a surprise that we have dress standards. If you genuinely have no idea what I mean when I say professional dress I am more than happy to go to google and show you pictures. Every minute we discuss uniforms is a minute I can’t spend on developing tools and systems to help you develop your career or have access to great benefits.

Are you creating a policy because you are too awkward to talk to that one person in that one site….

…..so you have declared WE NEED A POLICY (so you can hand it to them and they will subtly get the hint), that’s what is comes down to. I am struggling to have a human to human conversation so allow me to get my A4 paper to navigate these tough waters. Maybe that the purpose of a policy is to help you have those discussions, but too often we throw down the policy in place of the conversation….

Is it enough to just say “employees are expected to dress professionally and managers may provide feedback on your appearance in line with brand standards”. Should you just have a couple of pictures of role model employees in uniform with a blurb in the handbook.

The more prescriptive you make the policy the more you have to police it. When drafting a policy I would think about your brand and your customers. Who are your customers? Are you high-end or down to earth? Are they going to be offended by an arm tattoo? Would you benefit from company issued compete uniforms? Is blue hair the end of the world? Most of the time people will do the right thing, we spend a lot of time policing the 1% hmmm……..



Why are you sharing that with me? A LinkedIn story.

Nothing frustrates me more on that glorious social media hub, than when people share articles / blogs without a comment as to why they shared it.

It’s because I am genuinely interested in why you want to share it with me. I want to know why you decided to make that article part of your online presence. I want to know why you want me to read it. It could be a genuine plug for something you wrote, or maybe it’s something you feel passionate about. Either way, tell me your opinion so that I can engage with your point of view. Even if it’s something as simple as “love this article, really speaks to my point of view on this topic” – magical, something people can engage with.

Now I know it is very popular to use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to manage your social media presence –  I think they are great. Sometimes you want to share lots of articles in one day then nothing, it’s good to have a tool that moderates the distribution of your content so you don’t become a crazy LinkedIn spammer. However I can tell when you have just put in a whole bunch of articles just “for the shares” because you haven’t got any commentary. Commentary takes time and energy, you need to digest the information and form an opinion. Can’t do that if you are all like “I need to fill my buffer feed!”.

I think that approach works on Twitter because the life span on Twitter is about 18 minutes – so broadcast to your hearts content. LinkedIn posts have about a 24 hour life span so you have a great opportunity to connect with others and make genuine connections. Why are you wasting this opportunity. When people say to me that they don’t know what to post or they are afraid of what a potential employer might say my response is the same – use common sense. If you don’t have common sense then don’t use social media.

Your relationship with social media will change over time. You will find the forums that add the most benefit to you and figure out how often you should engage, the important part is that you do try. Put your ideas into the world, get involved and give it go. Do everyone a favour and add something new into the mix!

More on social media: http://www.weidert.com/whole_brain_marketing_blog/bid/206554/are-you-maximizing-the-shelf-life-of-your-social-media 

Image credit: Flikr | Nan Palmero

The Rise of the Learning Ecosystem!

Last week I participated in an awesome Tweet Chat facilitated by @ozlearn, where I got the opportunity to introduce myself to new ideas (and new people) regarding Learning Ecosystems.

What’s a Learning Ecosystem?

Well that’s something that the chat couldn’t really agree on….


I can’t help but think that a Learning Ecosystem really sums up the discussion at the moment regarding the future of L&D. The move to the facilitating the learning community and not the ownership!


It appears to be a mix of everything! Creating an environment and system of sharing and collaboration, giving “power to the people” to create their own learning experience.

Is this a new idea?


Pretty much everything would come to a standstill if we didn’t have a Learning Ecosystem. At its core it’s about sharing knowledge, transferring skills and developing others, formally and informally – that’s not business specific that’s origin of civilisation specific! So the question is not whether it exists, it’s how do we improve it and grow it it’s something amazing within the workplace.

What does it all mean?


I almost started this sentence with “time to start thinking”. No, what I need is a plan. I am making a plan about how we bring this to life (with a particular interest in retail). I had started this activity a few weeks ago using this gem of an article by Jane Hart as a starting point to map activities. What’s steps are you taking – write a blog and share it with the community !! I’d love to read it, after all sharing is all part of the Learning Ecosystem.



Special thanks to those mentioned in the post for contributing to my learning journey and to all the awesome participants of the Tweet Chat!

Courage is the missing ingredient in HR

Joining the discussion is important and there are those within the HR community who have awesome ideas about we should be operating. Over time (some) people become very popular, not for their action but for their ideas. They speak at conferences, get on the circuit and begin this journey of sharing with those in the trenches their effective strategies for “growing talent” or “executing HR Strategy”, with very little practical understanding of the emotion and risk behind those recommendations.

It’s very glamorous to be a Thought Leader. You know what’s not glamorous? Being an Action Leader. Executing these great ideas takes courage, commitment, conquering risk and putting yourself in the firing line. We need everyone to move on from joining the conversation to going and facing their fears. You can talk about it all you like, but the second you get the opportunity to try it – do it. Do it and then talk about it – feed the conversation with heart felt and messy experience not just ideas. Tell me about the heartache of launching a program to develop leaders that fell on its face – tell me how you shook it off and tried again.

Tell me about the time you removed traditional performance appraisals in favour of something else; instead of woefully writing about how much you dislike them. Show me the eLearning module that you put together that defied expectations and share your tail of heroic activism as you fought for change.

Leave out the buzz words and jargon – give to us straight and please do not use the word HR Disruption.

The one thing our industry is really missing is courage. Let’s stop talking about courage and actually be courageous. Let’s make the discussion the safe place build our confidence and bring Action Leading to life!

I want to hear about your most courageous moments, big and small. We are excellent at sharing ideas – the HR community is amazing at that. We aren’t so good at the courageous execution of our ideas for a whole host of reasons – starting with the fact that we are human. We have bills to pay, families to support, holidays to finance and dreams to fund – so staying in the safe space of discussion is easier.

But if we want to change the way HR is perceived, which we need to – we can’t do it without courage. It’s just not a thing that’s going to happen for us without it.

Start small – you don’t need to change everything overnight. It could be as simple as researching a new software to relieve the administrative burden or making the time to prioritize what matters most to your role.

Like all habits, they become second nature with practice. Start small and build your way to full-blown courage. It’s a journey we are all on – you’re not alone in this.

A place I used to work for used to describe this as getting out on the skinny branches – get on out there!

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