Laurie Tim William at Greenhouse 2022

The world is challenging and can be lonely. We must surround ourselves with people who inspire and support us professionally and personally. These connections shape our mindset, influence our actions, and help us grow.

I’d like to share my perspective on the value of building a robust HR network, give IRL examples of remarkable individuals who have positively impacted my journey, and provide tips on expanding your HR network.

The Foundation: My Original Cohort of Friends

After leaving Pfizer, I was fortunate to be embraced by incredible friends who helped redefine my self-perception beyond that of a “failed HR lady.” These individuals — Lance Haun, Jennifer McClure, Kris Dunn, William Tincup, Tim Sackett, Matt Stollak, Sarah White, Carmen Hudson, and Mary Ellen Slayter — became the bedrock of my support system and continue to inspire me daily.

A Circle of Trust: Supportive Connections for Work and Life

My growth and commitment to a personal network didn’t stop there. I made new buddies and now have a trusted group to turn to when I need advice, guidance, or someone to talk to. People like Robin Schooling, Vadim Liberman, Lars Schmidt, Claude Silver, Mark Stelzner, Mary Faulkner, and Steve Browne consistently support me, offering help during personal and professional challenges.

Inspiring HR Leaders Worth Following

The following HR professionals consistently inspired me:

Julie Turney – Consultant and coach who offers daily reminders to be compassionate toward HR leaders working within challenging systems.
Paul Wolfe – CHRO turned author and speaker who boldly embraces the future of work.
Nicole Roberts – An HR leader who prioritizes employees as humans first, exemplifying grace under pressure.
Israel Guttierez – Caring TA leader focusing on psychological safety, ensuring I stay on the right side of history.
Angie Caro Walker – Big-hearted HR leader who fearlessly leaves her mark on the world of work.
Linda Breed – A fellow Pfizer sister wife, admired for her grit, pragmatism, and strong work ethic. She has a killer legacy wardrobe from Petite Sophisticate, too.
Jeff Batuhan – Veteran HR leader who skillfully navigates executive roles with practical, real-world experience.
Paul Lalonde – VP of People and Culture who passionately advocates for kindness and compassion.
Earl Major – Another Pfizer alum and a guiding light for determining the viability or outlandishness of my ideas.
Mary Williams – A generous HR leader who actively mentors the next generation in the Chicago area.

Building Your HR Network: Tips and Strategies

Expanding your HR network can seem daunting, but by following these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to building meaningful connections:

• Attend industry conferences and events – Take advantage of opportunities to meet and engage with like-minded professionals in your field.
• Join online HR communities and forums – Participate in discussions, share your insights, and learn from others’ experiences.
• Use social media platforms like a pro – Follow and interact with HR thought leaders on LinkedIn to stay informed and connected
• Network locally – Attend local HR meetups and events to connect with professionals in your area.
• Offer to mentor or volunteer – Share your expertise with others and give back to the community by mentoring or volunteering in HR-related initiatives.
• Seek professional development opportunities – Enroll in courses, workshops, or webinars to enhance your skills and connect with other learners.

In Conclusion: The Power of Your Network

Surrounding yourself with inspiring, challenging, and supportive individuals is crucial for personal and professional growth. Expanding your network gives you access to diverse perspectives and learning from many experiences. Don’t wait for a crisis to strike before seeking connections; invest in relationships now to build a strong foundation.

Remember, you are the sum of the people you spend time with. Cultivate a powerful network to unlock your potential and become the best version of yourself. By actively building your HR network, you’ll create a supportive and inspiring community that will guide and empower you throughout your career journey. A strong network is not just about who you know but also about who knows you. So, don’t hesitate to reach out, make connections, and contribute to the HR community. Your future self will thank you.