The Higher Ed Workplace Blog

A Clear Connection for Two CUPA-HR Members

handshakeI recently received a request from someone who wanted to “connect” with me on LinkedIn. This person was someone active in my professional industry who I did not know. I accepted their invitation and was excited about the potential of getting to know them. Unfortunately, that’s where it ended. We were “connected” but we made no connection. Sound familiar?

Although most people are “connected” with many through social channels or in-person networking events, how often do we form meaningful relationships with those people?

Megan Mentzel, human resources and career services coordinator at Mitchell Technical Institute, and Mark Coldren, associate vice president for human resources at Ithaca College, not only connected, but also formed a meaningful relationship after meeting one another through a program at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference in 2012. For Coldren and Mentzel, a simple “connection” at a CUPA-HR event has had a real impact.

“{Mark} was exactly what I had been searching for — someone who was experienced and willing to share their knowledge with others, and who was willing to actually give of their time and challenge me within my profession,” says Mentzel.

After their initial meeting at the conference, the pair have stayed in touch via e-mail, phone and text messages. They contact each other regularly — usually on a monthly basis — and talk about recent milestones, successes or challenges.

Coldren and Mentzel continue to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship. Mentzel has been encouraged by Coldren to identify her areas of interest in HR and continue to develop in those areas, while Coldren has learned from Mentzel’s ability to take on the challenges of two jobs (she has responsibilities in HR and student career services).

In addition to his relationship with Mentzel, Coldren said that he’s fortunate to have many wonderful relationships that have started at CUPA-HR events.

“It is the best thing in the world to return to your job and get a message from someone you met who has a question or wants to share an accomplishment. It means I am part of something much bigger,” says Coldren.

What professional relationships have you started either online or at a conference or event? How do you use social channels or in-person events to connect with others in a meaningful way? What tips or advice do you have for people who want to make meaningful connections?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and plan to join your peers at the CUPA-HR Annual Conference and Expo 2014, September 28-30 in San Antonio, Texas. You can also check out How to Find a Mentor (Or Two!) — a CUPA-HR members-only resource — in the CUPA-HR Knowledge Center for tips on finding a mentor or mentee. And read about Case Western Reserve University’s Staff Mentoring Circles program, designed to help staff members and leaders forge new relationships and develop strategies for collaboration.