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 


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)