Posts tagged networking
Creative Business Gift-Giving Ideas for the Holidays
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The holidays bring a natural time to look back on the year and an opportunity to thank and honor business colleagues and clients. Showing people authentic gratitude for trusting us to be a critical part of their teams is an absolute must! But choosing an appropriate gift that will truly show our appreciation can be difficult. Another bottle of wine or snack tower is always nice, but anyone who has been at a desk buried in chocolate covered pretzels and no-refrigeration-needed cheese logs can attest that it’s hard to remember who gave what, and most importantly, why. The options below go far beyond that. Check out this list and see if any of these ideas resonate with you for your business:

·      Who doesn’t have a client who simply loves dogs? At Grounds & Hounds, every pound of coffee purchased saves a hound! Or donate to your local Humane Society in the name of your animal-loving business associate, and while you’re there, purchase some pet toys from their in-house shop to give along with the donation card. 

·      Give the gift of an experience. One fun option in our area: jewelry making and pottery courses offered by Boulder Studio Arts. You can also purchase beautiful handmade pieces at their holiday sale and support their operations while giving a beautiful and meaningful gift. 

·      Water gives life. It’s that simple. Charity:Water utilizes every single penny of each donation to bring clean water to people who need it worldwide. Order 20 wristbands for your client’s team to raise awareness or a slim leather wallet as a personal gift and make a donation in your business associate’s name to go with it.

·      Can you imagine giving a duck or a goat as a holiday gift? One of my personal favorites, Heifer International, provides animals to people in need, which can in turn help them create sustainable income and impact others in their families and communities.

·      Purchasing the wares of artisans and artists is a way to support their continued vibrancy and security. Uncommon Goods is a B Corporation that offers handmade items from all over the world, helping remote makers bring their goods to market. Many items come with a story, and you can choose a gift that connects with your business connection’s interests and passions. 

·      In today’s world, when we can buy almost any item online and have it within an hour or two, our local small business community needs our support. Most of the time they offer superior products too, and giving local gifts shows your commitment to your community. Purchase a gift from a local small business, like Boxcar Coffee Roasters, or a handcrafted item from a local artisan, and make new connections in the process.

·      Youth are our future, and preparing them through education is critically important. Want to give your client the opportunity to help young people by choosing a classroom project that inspires them? Donors Choose allows your recipient to decide how to allocate their gift.

·      What could feel even better than offering food to people who are hungry? You can support the organizations that do this every day by offering a gift certificate or a catered meal from a local nonprofit restaurant. At Café 180, everyone can eat, regardless of their ability to pay, and the café trains apprentices as well. FoCo Café in Fort Collins also offers meals on a donation basis, and you can join as a sustaining member on your clients’ behalf to support their mission. 

If you want to think beyond the mass-produced and guarantee your gift will be unforgettable, give in a way that shows the deep gratitude you feel for your clients and business associates, and that reflects your strong connection to your community and important charitable causes.

What are your creative ideas for gift-giving? 

photo credit: created with Canva

Expanding Your Network: Achieving Great Things Together
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How many people do you know? When we consider all of our online connections and people we have met over the years in our careers, social engagements and events, each of us probably has a network of thousands of people. Of course, there are close, trusted friends and family members as well as our work teams that we interact with on a daily basis. But many of us underestimate our own reach when we consider the sheer size of our networks.

But do those peripheral connections really matter? How can one person actually connect on an authentic basis with so many others? Think about your brand and the message you send online and in person. Are you a leader who welcomes new people into your circle, or do you default to an attitude of exclusivity? No one expects that each of us has time and energy to drop everything and give substantial resources to developing a deep connection with each new contact that comes into our mutual orbit. However, adjusting our attitudes about embracing new human beings that we come into contact with can help us cultivate an assumption of openness to new ideas and people that can enrich our lives and work in countless ways and, yes, bring us more career success in the process:

·      Curiosity. Are we genuinely curious about the interests, work and lives of others? Or are we too busy with our day to day tasks to generate passion about the world and infinite opportunities to learn and grow? Thinking about the “why” in everyday issues can help us find genuine, authentic connections with others.

·      Shedding Labels. Today’s Coordinator is tomorrow’s Manager. Or today’s Instagram trend-setter and soon-to-be entrepreneurial sensation. Or community organizer and world changer. Or all of the above! Stop making assumptions about who people are from their job titles. We all have immense value to one another and I am often greatly inspired by and humbled to be in mentoring relationships with early career professionals who teach and coach me as I do the same for them.

·      Extending our Reach. Think about writing, posting your ideas on social platforms, engaging with others and creating your own opportunities to collaborate outside of your typical channels. One of my most treasured platforms is a Slack channel I created with several pros I have met over the past few years, where we can freely collaborate, tackle difficult problems, and support one another. It’s allowed us to take tenuous connections across social platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to a new level that allows for on-demand deeper discussions without taking a lot of time or energy, but that are surprisingly timely and rewarding. My dear friend Wendy Dailey and I not only chat on Slack, but we also text and talk, and keep in touch on social. We have grown our originally Twitter-ignited relationship to many in-person adventures too.

·      Diving in to our Groups. Are you a member of any professional groups? They provide boundless opportunities not only to meet new people with shared interests, but also to exercise your leadership muscles and develop new skills you never knew you could excel in, and new passions that deepen the reward of your work. For instance, I am a member of the American Bar Association and my state and local bar associations, as well as the Disability Management Employers Coalition and the Colorado ILG-these organizations provide opportunities for connections, and also deep and timely updates and analysis of important issues I care about. I am also president of my local HR management chapter, the Boulder Area HR Association. My groups provide opportunities to stay on top of the areas of work I love (particularly, employment law, disability accommodation, and strategic human resource management) and also to meet, connect with and develop relationships with amazing people who offer me new perspectives, support, informal coaching, and opportunities to take on new challenges. I endeavor to do the same for them-and we all have a lot of fun in the process.

·      Body Language. When you meet new people in person, do you open your stance (and even your arms)? Do you catch yourself in small, closed groups of connections you already know well, hiding out in your introversion instead and forming a closed circle that tells outsiders to stay away? Networking is more naturally comfortable for some of us than it is for others. Instead of falling back on old habits, be mindful and plan your networking so you can be open, grow your ability to connect with others, and challenge yourself in the process. Alyce Blum, a wonderful colleague of mine, teaches others to do this and I highly recommend her to anyone who needs coaching and support. 

·      Generosity. In networking, as in work and life, it feels great to be generous with our resources. I look to my friend, Steve Browne, as a wonderful example of this. Steve not only connects with and celebrates everyone, he also encourages (and even sometimes admonishes) us all to connect with one another. He not only coaches and pays forward a stunning energy of leadership and connection, he also generates this energy, that emanates throughout his network and back to him again. It’s a heavy lift but you can see how it genuinely feeds his passion about his work.

What can we achieve together as we grow our connections? The sky is the limit. Alone, I am an attorney and HR professional. Together with my network, I can be an expansive and creative thinker, inspired to do my best work that will have positive ripple effects throughout my community, my profession, and the larger world. For example, this year, my Boulder Area HR Association colleagues and I doubled our reach with an expanded conference that brought in Nancy Lyons of Clockwork, a truly inspirational and innovative leader, as our keynote. We offered not only HR benefits and legal content, but also a track for innovation in HR, populated with speakers who shared new ways of thinking and approaching problems and barriers in HR. How many leaders were inspired and brought fresh thinking and ideas back to their work teams from just that one event? I’m proud to say that’s my network at work.

What heights can you reach with your network? Share your successes and ideas!

Image credit: created with Canva

Your Calling Card-Personal Networking for HR

I’m spending time going through information from all of the amazing people I’ve met this year, and trying to organize it and make sure I connect with everyone who wants to do that. In the process, I realized that some of my closest colleagues have already changed organizations or moved across the country-I know that LinkedIn helps us stay in touch professionally, and I definitely utilize that platform for consistency of contact and keeping up with good news from my network. But I can’t help thinking that we all just need a calling card.

My business card doesn’t change, no matter which client I am working with, because I am a business owner. I have many contacts who are like me, whose information will never change. But I also have some colleagues who are starting to either share two cards, one for their own information, and one for their company’s. Or those in transition have a personal business card that conveys their brands and what they have to offer. Once example is my new friend John Quarles, who is a senior HR professional soon to be in transition, who has a gorgeous card highlighting his top skill areas, including HR specialties and other business areas like Mergers and Acquisitions and Six Sigma, as well as a tagline to sum up his brand: “Supplying your company with the HR tools it needs to be successful.”

While John will certainly be off the market before we know it (you can check him out on LinkedIn for more information) we can all take a page from his book and think about how we can represent our best skills not only on LinkedIn, our websites, and on other social media platforms, but also in a small, tangible reminder that we give to others when we meet in person. I was joking with SHRM’s Social Media Director, Andrew Morton, about a few years ago when there was this thing where you could bump your phone with someone else’s and exchange information. What ever happened with that? It’s funny that now it seems archaic, but there doesn’t seem to have been a replacement technology that’s been widely adopted, other than social media-based and app-based connections. We still like the feel of a real card in hand, and exchanging a physical item with one another to remember each other by.

Creating a unique calling card is easy. My business cards come from I love the unique feel of the designs, shapes, sizes and materials. If price is an issue, VistaPrint has a great deal on a first order of business cards. Canva is a wonderful free tool that makes it easy to create a personal design without spending a penny. If your website is hosted through Squarespace, you can utilize their free logo designer to create your own simple icon.

Once you have your card, when is it appropriate to share it? Everywhere! The beauty of a personal card is that you don’t need to be in a business situation for it to be an appropriate gift to a new connection. Here’s a wonderful example from



It’s a fun way to leave a positive impression and reinforce your delight at meeting someone new. I’d love to see your personal cards-please tweet me @KellyinBoulder and @solvehrinc. Happy connecting!

Car Photo Credit: Michael Kappel via / CC BY-ND

10 Tips for #SHRM17 Final Prep

It's time to make final plans for #SHRM17 in New Orleans. SHRM has an amazing experience ready for us this year! If you have attended before, then you know that just a little bit of planning on the front end will ensure you capture all of the many benefits of the conference. Follow these ten tips to help you get the most out of your #SHRM17 experience.

1.       Figure out how you’re getting from the airport to your hotel. Many hotels have their own shuttles, but the timing varies, and may not meet your needs. A recent ordinance requiring ride sharing services to adhere to a minimum ride charge from the airport will not take effect for six months, so you may still find that these services have better pricing than taxis-probably around $24-33 one way (depending on distance and demand). A taxi from the airport to the Central Business District or the French Quarter costs $36 for one or two people, or for three or more, it's $15 per person. Share a ride to save money and network at the same time.Or for the ultimate in convenience, book a car service in advance and forget it!

2.       Check out activities to explore New Orleans for downtime. (If you’ve got any!) There are cemetery tours, architecture tours, food tours, ghost and voodoo tours, or all of the above! I am choosing a running tour to get in a workout and some sightseeing. #2Birds1Stone

3.       Download the #SHRM17 App and begin to build out your schedule. I’m glad the app also allows me to add events to my calendar to help me integrate with other work & networking activities during the conference!

4.       Identify not only which sessions are of interest to you, but also which speakers you might want to learn about and network with. Some speakers have books in the SHRM bookstore at the conference, and there will be book signings in the schedule.

5.       Think about food & friends! Plan to check out the “Meet to Eat” reservations as soon as you get to the conference – in Hall F of the convention center, and sign up to connect with other attendees for dinners. This is a terrific way to meet new friends and connect with HR Pros.

6.       Plan for your development activities at the conference: This SHRM article  is a great place to start. You can pick up a copy of the Competency Development Plan in the Certification Lounge or at the SHRM Booth (#1733) at the Expo.

7.       Put together your FMLA, Compensation and other HR questions now so you can bring them to the HR Advisor Central at the Connection Zone at #SHRM17 – it will be open Monday and Tuesday from 7:00 am-5:30 pm, and Wednesday from 9:30 am-1:00 pm. What a fantastic opportunity to consult with HR experts on timely topics that impact your organization!

8.       Follow ALL of the #SHRM17 Bloggers on Twitter (you can find a list here) and get ready to network with them at #Take10 sessions in the Connection Zone in Hall F of the convention center. If you keep an eye on the #Take10 hashtag, you’ll know when these HR pros are leading 10-minute interactive sessions. I’m especially excited for this new addition to the conference!

9.       Join the SHRM Foundation’s #ALLinSTEP challenge now! I have already burned through two Fitbits, but luckily you can get one at a discount now, or use your phone to track your steps. This year, you get to choose your team-get on board and start stepping beginning June 18th!

10.   Make a list of events. Get a handle on the events you know you want to attend. SHRM certified HR pros have their own special event. Regional councils are hosting dinners and parties. And many industries and HR sub-specialties are putting together their own events. Check out the SHRM Annual Conference and Expo Community to find out more.

11.   BONUS! One more step for final #SHRM17 planning – review the list of resource partners who will be at the Expo and choose which ones you would like to make sure to visit. SHRM makes it easy for you to plan, by listing exhibitors by category in the app. You can easily add them to a list of “my exhibitors” and keep track of your list. But don’t forget to wander around the Expo and get to know new potential partners as well.    

10 Best Opportunities for HR Networking

Networking for human resources professionals isn't just a good idea for career growth. It's a necessity. We all encounter complex problems and changing business and workforce needs in our everyday work, and sharing our experiences helps us grow and contribute to our profession. We have a lot to learn from each other, and there's no support like that which comes from someone else who's been there too.

These are the best groups around that are out there mixing it up and talking about issues at the forefront of HR. They are made up of smart, talented human resources professionals who value connection, so jump in and expand your network!