The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

Boost Your Career by Establishing Meaningful Relationships With Other Higher Ed HR Professionals

When you think about how you want to grow your HR knowledge and expertise, are professional connections a part of the equation? We’re not talking about a network of names, but rather meaningful relationships that help you grow both personally and professionally.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has taught us just how important connection is to our mental well-being. And as an HR professional on the front lines of the COVID-19 response, your relationships with other professionals can be a lifeline. These are people who can lend an ear when you need someone who understands the unique pressures of the work, provide answers to give you a leg up on a new project, and offer fresh perspectives on long-standing challenges.

Setting Your Intention

Strong professional connections can sustain, enlighten and inspire us. The key to making those connections is having a plan for establishing relationships that are meaningful and for tapping the professional networks and organizations that align with your priorities.

  • Create a list of what you’re looking for in your professional connections. You may want to gain a better understanding of an issue, to find moral support or to get an outside perspective.
  • Make a list of what you bring to the relationship. What are your HR areas of expertise? What personal or professional strengths do you bring to the table?
  • Develop a plan for establishing connections. You might send an email of appreciation to someone you heard speak on a topic you care about, or attend an informal virtual gathering of HR professionals.

The key to a successful plan is being intentional — knowing what you want to achieve and mapping out manageable steps to get you where you want to go.

Exploring Opportunities to Connect Through CUPA-HR

CUPA-HR membership opens the door to countless opportunities to connect with smart people who understand the unique challenges and successes HR professionals in higher education encounter every day. Here are a few options:

  • Attend chapter events hosted by your local CUPA-HR chapter. Even though our chapter meetings are virtual for now, many provide opportunities to connect with others.
  • Search discussions in CUPA-HR’s online community. You may find just the answer you were looking for! Many members have found crowdsourcing across the membership a great way to find solutions. It’s also an easy way to meet other higher ed HR pros.
  • Connect with members who have inspired you with their expertise or resources. Most of CUPA-HR’s panelists, speakers and writers are higher ed HR professionals and welcome questions about their work from other CUPA-HR members.
  • Contribute your own expertise and experience. When you serve on a CUPA-HR board, committee or advisory panel, you not only contribute to the advancement of the higher ed HR profession, but also develop a terrific network of peers.

CUPA-HR members have developed lifelong friendships as a result of the professional connections they’ve made through the association. Learn more about how to get involved with CUPA-HR.

Getting a Boost to Make Membership Possible

Many of CUPA-HR’s 2,000+ member institutions have had to make difficult workforce and budget decisions in 2020.

Thanks to the support of Fidelity Investments and Voya Financial, CUPA-HR was able to offer membership grants to 12 institutions that were hard-hit by the pandemic. These grants for one year of membership have allowed these institutions to continue to access important resources and sustain the connections they have established with other CUPA-HR members.


The CUPA-HR office will be closed Fridays through August 19.