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ATLANTA--When a 7 a.m. conference session begins with a flash mob and ends with a list of useful tips for building strategic relationships, you know it’s going to be a good day. That’s how the capacity crowd at the June 25 session “Strategic Relationship Management: The Breakthrough HR Competency,” held here during the Society for Human Resource Management's 2012 Annual Conference, started its morning.
“Relationships matter,” noted the two self-proclaimed “card carrying members of Generation X” who led the session: consultant, speaker and author Jason Lauritsen (@JasonLauritsen) and fellow speaker and author Joe Gerstandt (@joegerstandt). “If you want more influence in your organizations, relationships will help you get there,” Gerstandt noted.
He explained that social capital, according to Wayne Baker’s book Achieving Success Through Social Capital (Jossey-Bass, 2000), is defined as “resources available in and through personal and business networks.” Individuals gain access to resources such as information, ideas, business leads, good will, trust and cooperation as a result of social capital.
Thus, HR people with a lot of social capital don’t go to work alone; they roll into work with a posse, Lauritsen said. As a result, when they face an issue or need a sample policy, they’ve got a team of people outside the organization to turn to for help.
Relationship building inside the organization can be a bit trickier, Lauritsen said, particularly because HR professionals are so often focused on being service providers to employees. That’s why they must take time to develop business partner and strategic-level relationships.
The biggest ways people build relationships center on proximity and activity, Gerstandt said; people get to know one another when they frequent the same places and do things together.
Having thousands of friends on Facebook isn’t the solution, however. “Social capital is about quality, not quantity,” Gerstandt noted.
Lauritsen and Gerstandt summarized the six laws of “social gravity” described in their book Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships (Talent Anarchy Productions, 2012):
Rebecca R. Hastings, SPHR, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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