A very good friend of mine, Adam Connors facilitates an excellent training program called “NetWorkWise”. Adam is the ultimate connector of people (and ideas) and shares his insight to leverage the power of good that can happen when you invest in (and nurture) your personal and professional network. Some recent interactions (and frustrations) reminded me that sometimes we all need a little reminder.

I believe that building intentional connections with every person I interact with makes me a better person. Last night when I was teaching a virtual course helping HR professionals become SHRM certified, someone shared they had met me previously through another former colleague of mine. I immediately named the date and the place to which that connection occurred, which was at a conference in September 2018 just over 3 years ago. Because I am very intentional in meeting people, I can always remember those fine details, sometimes down to the minute detail!

I take this same approach when building connections online via LinkedIn or twitter. I can remember an insightful post or something they shared. A kind note exchanged in a direct message; something unique about them to which I attempt to build that intentional connection. I am deliberate on who I connect with, who I follow for that reason – it’s not about the number it’s about the quality of those connections that creates beneficial value hopefully to both sides of the interaction.

What I am struggling with lately is this pattern of transactional interactions – where someone (usually in the HR community) will reach out to me asking me to help them find a new role. Those that ask you to interact on their time, and when you don’t respond in kind (giving them what they expect), they discard you or get mad. For example, recently someone reached out and asked for a networking call as they are currently seeking new opportunities. I am always open to virtual coffees when time permits, but I explained that due to the busy time of year my schedule was pretty crazy (fall tends to be busy for most HR pros), Unfortunately, I couldn’t meet for 3-4 weeks. The person replied that they would have a job by then and would “keep that offer in mind”. Then sent me their resume’ and asked me to refer them to any positions they might be a fit. Unfortunately I have no direct connection to this person (I don’t know them enough to refer them) nor why would I since they just viewed me as a transactional part of their job search not worthy of establishing a true connection.. This is a perfect example of transaction based networking – you have something I want now, if you can’t help me I will move on to someone who can.

It’s that frustration, for all of us to be open to understanding that networking is not all about us (our needs). Nor the belief that social media platforms like LinkedIn are only for HR pros that are in job transition, thus only during those times will I invest the time in building my network, dropping it to the curb until I need it again. It’s those connections whom I only hear from when they want something; that foregoes the pleasantries of “how are you” or “I know it has been a while, I hope you are well”. Getting right to the point – “I need or can you to do X”, or they expect you to be their resource, and continually asking for similar help or your time, yet fail to return that generosity or say thank you.

The irony in all of this is that I am NOT a recruiter. I am not actively working on your behalf to find you a job or recruit for a position you posted, nor am I being paid to do so. I am happy to refer you to some amazing members of my professional network that can assist you and are experts in this area. What I am, is just your typical HR leader that is willing to help when the connection is authentic and not one sided, or expected. It is my hope that by being kind and helping others that my network will be there in return when I do need to phone an HR friend. Because I value meaningful interactions for those in my network that I do know; the introduction or referral comes organic and naturally. For the most part, I try to help as many as I can, if I can leveraging the power of those intentional connections I know. No expectations on my part other than a genuine desire to help create a mutually beneficial experience for both parties. It is these connections that I will tag in posts when I see or hear of an opening, provide a supportive ear when they need it, and help introduce them to those connections and resources that can help them in their needs. Transactional HR is what got us in trouble to begin with – so stop treating us in your professional network as a stagnant transaction! And please for the love of all that is HR, at least take the time to get to know that my first name is “Tina-Marie”.

So my plea to my #hrcommunity everywhere is to use your network wisely. Value those interactions you have with the people who are intentional in wanting to build that connection or appreciate that interaction with you, no matter how small it may seem. Be respectful of the time that someone gives you, because their time is just as precious as yours. Because the more you take and deplete that network, you only isolate yourself in the process.

There are many amazing people in our #HRCommunity who value intentional interactions – I want to say thank you – for being that ambassador for why relationships matter, especially for those of us in the “people” business. You are truly #HRAwesome and I appreciate and salute you every day!

And if you want to learn how to better create intentional connections, take Adam Connors “NetWorkWise” course. It’s a great resource in building your networking toolkit!