Is networking key to top role?

My career in HR is going really well, but I’ve been advised that to get to
the really senior roles, my best option is to make a bit of a name for myself
in HR and start networking like crazy. Any suggestions?

Suzanne Taylor, consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes

This is wise advice as you will need to have both a broad HR and wider
business perspective in order to move into and succeed in the most senior HR
roles. Initially, of course, you should be building networks within your
company, but also should consider how you can build contacts and share ideas
externally. Local CIPD forums are held regularly and this is certainly
something you should get involved in. Building networks outside of HR is also
invaluable and the Chamber of Commerce will be a good starting point for this.
Addition-ally, if none already exist, consider starting-up network groups
yourself with local businesses or companies within your industry. Finally, in
order to gain these senior posts, it is important to have gained a first-hand
perspective from more than one company, and perhaps more than one industry, so
you may need to consider moving on from your current role.

Victoria Wall, managing director, Victoria Wall Associates

Although the contacts you meet through networking can be useful, I do not
believe it is necessarily the answer to promoting your career. If you are
presently challenged and doing well in your role, try to increase internal
awareness of your ambition and abilities. If you were keen to make a name for
yourself externally, respond to articles written in the HR press and media –
intelligent or controversial viewpoints are often read and noted. In addition,
it would be worth researching and attending a couple of HR conferences – focus
on content and good speakers, and, if possible, attend a formal lunch in the
hope that you will be seated with informative and influential people. In my
experience, net-working is time consuming and hard to control. While it may
enable you to expand your knowledge of ‘what people think and are doing in the
HR profession’, and give you the opportunity to promote your skills, I would
not suggest it is a reliable method of getting into senior management.

Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS Consultancy

Your question infers that the only way to get to the senior HR roles is to
spend more time on the golf course and join the Masons. Alter-natively, get
involved with your local CIPD branch or business network and your success is
guaranteed. Well actually, that’s not the case. While you may gain personal
satisfaction from supporting your local branch, it should not be seen as a
means of furthering your career. If you look at senior HR people, you will see
that many of them have worked their way up through the same organisation.
Others have worked hard at their own professional development gaining
Fellowship of the CIPD and/or Masters level qualifications. While who you know
is important in developing your career, what you can do is more important. This
can often be demonstrated by getting work published.

Mike Broad, deputy editor, Personnel Today, writes: We are always delighted
to receive contributions from HR professionals, either in a letter, an article
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