Soc’s vs Greasers: HR C-Suite Snub Local HR Networks?

I read an interesting Forbes article on CEO networking.  It’s asks the question:  Does the boss even really need to network? The answer: Yes–and he needs to do it better than anyone else.

Interesting, because there’s always been a problem with our local SHRM chapter.  I imagine others around the country have the same problem.  The C-Suite snub.  I’m talking about the HR C-Suite mind you.  Huh? This never made me mad, it just seemed curious.  And now that I am on a C-Suite, I hate to admit…my local chapter participation has all but dwindled to a lunch or two this entire year.  Double huh?

When I was on the board of our local chapter, there seemed to be an obvious absence in the C-Suite demographic.  And from what I learned, this absence was nothing new.  And apparently not very well hidden.

A public snub.  

Coming from someone who was quite active, and as someone who still feels the sting of Jr. High, my translation:  Holy crap, the cool-kids (C-Suite) think I’m a nerd.  The Soc’s think I’m a Greaser (Stay Golden, Pony Boy….Stay golden…).

Disclaimer:  Of course there is always a very passionate C-Suite contingency in the chapters.  Ones that contribute a great deal.  I’m not saying that C-Suite never participate; just in much smaller numbers. Much.  And usually as either:

  • A keynote speaker
  • A member of an advisory board

Not much mixing with the masses.  Which is a shame.  But why?  And really, should they or anybody care, and are they really missed?

  • No you shouldn’t care.  Don’t worry about who is at your chapter meeting.  Go and focus on your own development.  Network with who is there.  If the HR VP isn’t there, there is a good chance their HR Director will be.  Network with the director.
  • Are they missed?  Of course.  There is a lot to be learned from the VP.  A lot that can be contributed.  But get over the notion that your small talk with the CHRO between bites of grilled chicken is going to land you a job.  It usually doesn’t.  You land the job networking with the HR Director.  (see bullet one).
  • Should they care?  Yes.  I think the VP is missing out more than the regular, ol’ member.  Why?  VP, you want to know what is going on with the trench hr pro; More importantly with the employees (YOUR employees) the trench HR pro serves.  VP’s don’t have the reputation of being that connected to their constituents.

In all fairness, in most cases the C-Suite have:

  • Paid their dues. 
  • Heard the HR lunchtime topics, ad nauseum.
  • Really, and I don’t mean this snarky, simply don’t have the time to network in this way.

So, in the end…live and let live.  Keep networking and supporting your local HR peeps.  And I’ll try to do better in 2012 reconnecting myself.