Tag Archives: Society for Human Resource Management

The Rules of HR


Not all rules are created equal

No More Rules
No More Rules (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human society is based upon laws and rules.  Rules put the civil in civilization. Rules also put the profesh in professional..or something like that.

Most professionals, including HR professionals also develop a personal code of ethical conduct that helps guide our conduct in the workplace. Personally, I have found this to be useful.

Let’s look at both sides of this coin.

Professional Rules

SHRM has a code of ethics for HR professionals that were published in November 2007.  I’m excerpting highlights, but you can find the click on the link to find the full SHRM Code of Ethics.




Core Principle

As HR professionals, we are responsible for adding value to the organizations we serve and contributing to the ethical success of those organizations. We accept professional responsibility for our individual decisions and actions. We are also advocates for the profession by engaging in activities that enhance its credibility and value.


Core Principle

As professionals we must strive to meet the highest standards of competence and commit to strengthen our competencies on a continuous basis.


Core Principle

HR professionals are expected to exhibit individual leadership as a role model for maintaining the highest standards of ethical conduct.


Core Principle

As human resource professionals, we are ethically responsible for promoting and fostering fairness and justice for all employees and their organizations.


Core Principle

As HR professionals, we must maintain a high level of trust with our stakeholders. We must protect the interests of our stakeholders as well as our professional integrity and should not engage in activities that create actual, apparent, or potential conflicts of interest.


Core Principle

HR professionals consider and protect the rights of individuals, especially in the acquisition and dissemination of information while ensuring truthful communications and facilitating informed decision-making.

Personal Rules

Good stuff really, filled with high minded principles and professionally appropriate jargon that we should all take to heart as HR professionals and practice inn the workplace on a daily basis.  The problem with high minded principles, for me at least is that they don’t answer real world questions very well.

I’m talking about a question like: “Is it appropriate to be personal friends with professional colleagues?”  

This question was always a personal conundrum for me, especially early on in my career.  I had a hard time reconciling how I could be friends with people I saw every day in the workplace because I was afraid it would compromise me professionally if I ever had to participate in a disciplinary action, or a termination action involving one of them.

Early on in my career, I took the coward’s way out, electing not to establish any type of personal friendships in the workplace.  This was one of my first personal rules of HR conduct.

It was a terrible error in judgement.  It hurt me personally and professionally. Co-workers perceived me as aloof and unfriendly.  It took me a few years in the profession to figure this out, and a few more years before I learned to correctly balance the personal and professional aspects of workplace friendship.  I’ve been a much happier and complete human being since I gave that personal rule up.

Another question I still struggle with is “When is it ok to give a professional colleague a personal compliment?”  I’m not talking about compliments like “great job on the Spacely Sprocket acquisition!”.  I mean stuff like “great dress”, “Nice shoes”, and “You look mahvelous.”  I’m not talking about creepy stuff here, just sincere heartfelt compliments. Every time I say something like this to someone, especially someone of the opposite sex I begin to question myself, and the appropriateness of the action.

I experienced this again recently when I saw a really good picture of Rayanne Thorn with her kids. She looked so happy and radiant, it was just wonderful. I sent her a DM on Facebook that I thought she looked gorgeous (which she did).  Then I apologized for sending her a compliment.  Kind of like giving a  Christmas gift and telling someone they are going to hate it when they open it.  Rayanne reassured me it was a nice thing to hear.

One of the personal rules that has stood the test of time is “Refrain from sharing your personal religious and political beliefs” with your co-workers.  People hate that.

I’m still defining my personal rules of HR.  Which ones do you struggle with? I’d love to hear from you.






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HR Reincarnate


Society for Human Resource Management
Society for Human Resource Management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
  1. 1.
    (as believed in some religions and philosophies) cause (someone) to undergo rebirth in another body.
    “a man may be reincarnated in animal form”
  1. 1.
    reborn in another body.
    “he claims that the girl is his dead daughter reincarnate

Matt Stollak asked me about a piece I wrote back in 2009 called HR – not dead yet, which I wrote while a great debate was raging on one of the old LFR blogs over whether HR was dead or alive.

Here’s part of that piece.

HR is not dying.

I would agree it is bifurcating to a certain extent, from a blended generalist type function into several smaller more specialized areas, like talent management, etc,.  But there is still a need for someone to do the shit work that line  managers hate when it comes to dealing with people.  There is also a need to ensure that the bad managers out there  be required to stick to some form of cultural consistency and conformity.

I think too many HR people hunker down and develop a reactive mentality to issues. We need to stop trying to avoid disasters and litigation.

HR peeps need to step out and make shit happen.

When you do that, you are at the table, whether you got invited or not.

BTW – the invites are not coming any time soon.   You have to create the opportunity. Same holds true for authority and respect. And you have to work to hold on to them once you have them. They are pesky and disappear quickly.

The great companies out there typically have great HR departments under the hood somewhere. But there is also a lot of “What have you done for me lately?”

Stop hiding.

Do the work.

Make shit happen.

HR rocks anywhere that happens.

It still sounds like sound advice to me.

I think the HR conversation has shifted in the blogosphere over the last five years.  Our echo chamber has expanded.  We have more champions of HR like Steve Brown advocating the joys of our profession.  SHRM has adopted social media as an effective means of sharing knowledge.  New bloggers have come on the scene, adding their contributions.

We rarely talk about tables any more.  That’s true progress.

Keep up the good work, HR!

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2013 summed up: My attitude is gratitude

My Attitude feels like Gratitude

Thank You
Thank You (Photo credit: drp)

This has been the best holiday season I’ve had in years, and I can’t explain it. There hasn’t been any magical event take place.  No big life announcements of starting new careers. (Congrats Trish and Lars!) Just a good time of year during what has been a good year of 2013.  I’m grateful for that.

I’m grateful for a bunch of stuff.  This short list won’t be all of it.

  • my family…no matter where you are
  • The entire tribe at PeopleReport….Tdn2K. Thanks for everything that you do!
  • the HR professionals who help me grow every day via SHRM and on-line
  • BTC for raising the bar and reminding me every day by #JFDI that we can all do more for each other
  • friends.

Gratitude 2013

On the professional front, there’s a bunch of labor stuff  coming that HR peeps need to keep half an eye on.  These include movements such as:

  • Rapidly increasing calls to raise wages and improve benefits.  The small community of SeaTac has already gone to $15 an hour.   Washibgton DC has passed a local minimum wage increase and added a paid sick leave requirement.
  • Increased employee activism in the work place.  Additional business sectors will experience labor actions similar to those conducted by OURWalmart and the Fast Food organizing effort in 2014.
  • More traditional  labor unrest, like strikes or lockouts,  driven largely by health care and pension issues.
  • Immigration
  • labor issues up and down the supply chain

The time is quickly coming when HR will need to reinvest itself in labor relations on a daily basis.  We’ll see more of this in 2014, and it will be at fever pitch in 2015.  Time to think about proactive strategies for fostering positive employee relations  – on the hard and soft sides.  I’m here to help, and will be writing about this stuff throughour the year.

Thanks for reading. Thanks for being there when I need you.

Stay strong. Stay thirsty, and whatever you are doing, whereever you are – have a happy effin’ new year! – Mike



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The Social Media Volunteers #MTSHRM #TNSHRM13

Social media is now part of the HR profession

Social Media Outposts
Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

I’m very excited to be part of the Social Media Pit Crew for the  2013 Tennessee SHRM Conference.   It’s always an honor and a privelege to be asked to participate in an event like this.  For me, this will be the third time I have been asked to be a member of the inital social media efforts at a state conference.  In years past, I have been a part of social media teams at state conferences in Florida, Ohio, and Illinois.

Will I see you at the 2013 Tennessee State Conference?

Looking at what Chris Fields and Lyn Hoyt are putting together for Nashville, I can hardly wait for September to get here!  You should be there too!

So what makes going to a state conference as part of a social media team so awesome, especially when it is the first foray into the wild and wooly world of  HR social technology?

It’s the people, the learning, and the networking – pretty much the same reasons that people who don’t use social media much go to the conference. 

Back in 2009, I was part of the first blogging team at HR Florida.  I got invited to serve on that team because of the individual work I did in tweeting out information and sharing the event via social media as a 2008 conference attendee.  In 2010, I became a volunteer leader for HR Florida at the state level, serving as a member of the Program committee, and the leader of the Social Technology team for three straight years.  That led to speaking opportunties at other state conferences, and a volunteer leader position for SHRM National, and many other opportunities too numerous to bore you with here. 

I share this experience not to trumpet my own awesomeness, but rather to quickly illustrate that something as banal and mundane as “tweeting” can actaully lead to transformative moments in your professional career.  None of these opportunities would have come my way without the connections I made through social media.  People I met via Twitter like Sharlyn Lauby, China Gorman, Carol McDaniel, Dave Ryan and Steve Browne have become tremendous professional connections, and opened doors for me in a way that I never expected.

That’s why I volunteer my personal time to attend state conferences and do social media at these conferences.  By paying this time forward, I hope that someone out there in Tennessee will receive the same kind of mentoring and opportunity that I did.  If you are attending the Tennessee conference, please be say hello to me and the rest of the social media pit crew if you see any us. (click through the link for videos from the whole crew)

A Social media primer for SHRM Chapter Leaders

A few years ago, I put together a primer of tips for SHRM state and local chapter leaders looking to get started in social media.  It included the following advice:

Getting your chapter started

  • Look to other chapters for best practices.  HR Florida is a great case study, if I do say so myself.  I would also include Illinois, Ohio, and Louisiana.
  • Consider getting started by adopting with at least one platform if you are not ready to go full tilt.
  • Blogs are great for sharing information
  • Facebook is great for conversation / events
  • LinkedIn groups offers a semi-private platform
  • Develop policy and guidelines
  • You must believe, and lead by example.
  • Let your “chapter”  hair down a little, and have some fun!
  • You must view your audience as a community.
  • Don’t treat your social media platforms like a bulletin board used only for publishing announcements.  If you do, it will fail.
  • Help is available!
  • All SHRM chapters should have a social media person on their leadership team.

 Today I would also add the importance of developing lasting partnerships with sponsors.  SHRM National has built a great relationship with Dice, the Hive and a kickball charity fundraiser that raised more than $11,000 for No Kid Hungry.  Possibilities are unlimited, if you use your imagination.

Special thanks to MissionPoint Health Partners for their conference sponsorship, and CBIZ for providing the social media sponsorship at the 2013 Tennessee SHRM Conference and Exposition.

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Like Blake Mycoskie, HR can do just a little more #SHRM13

I have a question for the typical #SHRM13 conference attendee.  Why are you here?

Society for Human Resource Management
Society for Human Resource Management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Likely answers will be things like HRCI credits to maintain my PHR?SPHR, to learn about the latest and greatest trends in HR, to network, or even just to party and enjoy Chicago. All of these are legit. I think it’s important to remember that we cab do more.  It doesn’t event take much, and it can actually enhance your conference experience.

I’m listening to Blake Mycoskie of Tom’s Shoes speaking right now, He’s talking about how he built his business, built a super brand, and founded a social movement all at the same time.


It’s genius, and doable. It just takes a will, and a community


. Case in point, the #SHRM kickball  charity game that we held yesterday in Grant Park to raise money for the #NoKidHungry campaign.  About 60 people turned out to  play kickball, and raise  nearly $11,000 from our employers, family, friends and social media contacts.


We were able to do this because we had a goal and a community, which led us to build a little movement within SHRM, and with the help of SHRM.


Imagine what we could accomplish if we all worked together.   The goal of the #NoKidHungry program is to end world hunger in the next five years.  We did it small  this year.  Blake Mycoskie did it big..  What can we all do together?   That’s the kind of conference experience I want to have next yea

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Hey buddy, can you spare a dollar? (To end world hunger in the next five years)

End world hunger in the next five years

I’m going to break it down for you like this.  This isn’t a blog post.  It isn’t about labor relations. It isn’t about HR.

It’s a blatant request for you to donate a dollar.  I’m going to SHRM National again this year, and a bunch of my friends are playing kick ball, and trying to raise $5,000 for #NoKidHungry. 

Can you spare $1 and help me out?

 Get the rest of the info from my pal Dwane Lay down there:

SHRM Kickball 2013 SHRM Kickball and No Kid Hungry

There is, deeply embedded into our collective psyche, the drive to do good.  Specifically, good for others, for those who can’t do for themselves.  And good in a way that can change someone’s life.  Last June, at the SHRM Annual conference in Atlanta, Dovetail sponsored a small hockey game in the park.  Aside from earning the players some strange looks, the game generated hundreds of dollars for Atlanta Mission.  You can read more here if you like.

This year, we have had more time to plan and more people asking to be part of the event.  We’re proud to share that we will be repeating our event, though in a different venue and format.

 Sunday, June 16th, Dovetail Software and Dice will be sponsoring SHRM Kickball 2013 to benefit the No Kid Hungry campaign.  We will be playing in Grant Park in Chicago, and have an all-star list of social media personalities making up the rosters.  We couldn’t be more proud of the cause for which we play, or the people who have jumped at the chance to be part of the event.  We have a target of $5,000 this year, a tough be reachable goal.

To make a donation, even of just a few dollars, please click here to visit our fundraising page.  No amount is too small (or too large) to make a difference. 

No Kid Hungry connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending childhood hunger a national priority.  This year, more than 16 million children in America will face hunger. That’s one in five. NKH is working to connect hungry kids with the food they need to grow and thrive.

Every dollar you donate will make a huge impact for kids. In fact, just $1 can help connect a child with 10 meals.  Our goal of $5,000, while lofty, is reachable, and will have a tremendous impact!

There are other ways you can get involved as well.  Here are two great resources from No Kid Hungry you can check out:

No Kid Hungry Action Center: In conjunction with the release of the documentary,  A Place At The Table, NKH has developed a national Action Center where you can find ways to make an immediate impact in your communities. Their founder and Executive Director, Billy Shore, and National Spokesman Jeff Bridges are both featured in A Place At The Table, and the Action Center is a how they help supporters who are ready to act. If you’re passionate about ending hunger like we are, I hope you’ll see the film with some friends, and find actions to take in your area.

Crowdsourced School Breakfast Map: NKH recently released a study showing that kids who eat school breakfast miss less school, do better on standardized tests and are more likely to graduate from high school. They have created a Breakfast Changes Lives infographic that shows the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast. But far too few schools are offering breakfast programs that effectively reach kids who need them. So they have created a map of 115,000 public, private and charter schools across the U.S. and are looking for our supporters to call their local school and help map an unprecedented look at school breakfast in America. They reached their goal of mapping 10,000 schools by March 31, and we have 20,000 schools in our sights. Please consider calling your local school and writing about your findings and experience.


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My Voice of HR Advice for SHRM (from 2011) : Go Forth and Lead #SHRMADVICE

Radical Self-expression )°(

2011 Guidance for SHRM from the Human Race Horses

In 2013, the song remains the same…. #SHRMADVICE

In 2011, I don’t want SHRM to change a thing that it has already planned.  Keep up the plans for global domination expansion.  Maintain the drive for the goal line on certification.  Keep stumbling around trying to figure out how to use social media.  These are all good and valid efforts that serve the mainstream SHRM audience in some way.

How SHRM could drive Edgy HR

What I want to see is SHRM do is to add a little spice to this sauce,  put some topping on the ice cream, get a little more edgy and radical at the same time.

Here is how:

  1. Require all SHRM leaders to hold regular office hours –  I would like to see all Officers and Directors at SHRM, including the Board of Directors, establish office hours for the membership.   What are office hours?  Just like in college professors do for their students, be in your office at a designated time and place and be openly available to guide, counsel, mentor, and listen to what your membership is saying.  I would suggest 4 hours a month, but hey, start with two and grow it up from there.  Not much in terms of cost, except for the time, and what more valuable way does SHRM have to serve its members than engaging in direct outreach and communication?
  2. Make the CEO position an elected post –  voted upon every 3 years by the membership.  I wrote about this on my blog in July when Lon O’Neil resigned left.  I said then it was a crazy idea, but I still like it.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have to some relatively unknown HR professional step out of their work life and stride onto the staid SHRM scene calling for change like Barack Obama did during his 2008 Presidential campaign?  Who knows what new ideas might be generated, or how much the membership base might be energized by a direct election.
  3. Establish a Radical HR incubator – This is the crazy one.  Take a very small percentage of general operating funds and set up an incubator fund that could be used to fund bleeding edge ideas and projects, whether that be unconferences, social media, or just crazy HR project ideas that could use some seed money.   Just use a small percentage of our big mainstream, corporate organization to support the radicals out there who are thinking big, but don’t have a lot of resources.    SHRM could become an angel investor in some new HR projects and ideas, a catalyst for innovation and transformation.  Isn’t that what we are supposed to be doing anyway? Who knows what might com out of it?  There might even be money in the deal!

Alright SHRM, now you know what I think.  Go forth and conquer lead!

This article was written by Michael VanDervort, and was originally published on the Voice of  HR blog on November 15, 2010.

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I hate public speaking…

Public speaking
Public speaking (Photo credit: brainpop_uk)

When it comes to public speaking – don’t do what I do, and please listen to what I have to say!

Are you afraid to speak in public?  If so, welcome to the club, my fellow glossophobes.

Public speaking makes me nervous every time I do it, no matter what.  Even getting paid to do a speaking gig doesn’t take the anxiety away.  It just provides a little more incentive to make me want to get up there and get the talking over with.

My most recent speaking gig was to talk about labor relations, human resources, and social media for the HR leaders who attended the 2013 Illinois SHRM Legislative conference in Springfield, Illinois. My soeaking slot was at 2:15 pm, which gave me all day to watch the other speakers, and to watch the clock ticking down to my dreaded appointment with Glossophobia.

Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking. The word glossophobia comes from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread.

Glossophobia is the technical term given to a severe fear of public speaking. People who suffer from glossophobia tend to freeze in front of any audience, even a couple of people. They find their mouth dries up, their voice is weak and their body starts shaking. They may even sweat, go red and feel their heart thumping rapidly.

I experienced every single one of those symptoms, inside my head anyway.  I always do, every time I speak to a group, no matter how big or how small.  That’s the bad news.
Here’s the good news.  You can overcome glossophobia.   It’s like learning to ride a bike.  You have to get up and speak, and then speak again, and then speak some more.  Eventually, you develop the “muscle memory” to overcome fear, and the small disasters that can occur during a presentation.

You know about those.  The things like the stuff that happened to me during my Illinois presentation.

  • speaking in a strange room with no time for rehearsal
  • discovering just before your presentation that the powerful  video you were planning to show has garbled sound, causing you to dump it from the presentation
  • using the slide clicker to turn off the presentation
  • forgetting the name of the federal agency that you are speaking about for a fraction of a second

Oh yeah, and discovering that you still have six summary slides to cover in less than three minutes, causing you to like “Motormouth” John Moschitta. (see video below if you are too young to understand that reference)

When I was done speaking, I felt like I had been punched in the head.   I was tired and jumpy.  I needed to go outside and walk around the building a few times to calm down.   I was mentally berating myself over the things that I had wanted to mention, but failed to get to.   I was sure that I had missed the mark.    I stayed outside pacing frantically as the last speaker brought the day to a close, only drifting back into the room near the very end so as not to seem impolite.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

As people began to filter out of the room, several of them stopped and thanked me for doing a very informative and interesting topic, and introducing them to information they were unaware of.

OMG, they liked me!  They actually liked me! This was later confirmed by the session feedback forms, and by my friend Dave Ryan who got me hired me in the first place.

When it comes to public speaking, don’t do what I do and give into your glossophobia.   Instead, listen to what I have to say:  Start talking!

Get up on the podium and share your expertise, it makes you a better professional and strengthens our profession!



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Tips on effectively influencing the C-suite

Influencing the C-suite

Description unavailable
 (Photo credit: mvndrvrt)

I recently attended a conference session in San Antonio where it was suggested that  employee and labor relations specialists and consultants face a giant credibility problem in the C-suite.  People in the C-suite will spend money, but it’s tough to get them to write checks on proactive employee relations initiatives unless you demonstrate the return on investment (ROI) of the programs you are pitching to a CEO.

All too often, we fail to close the deal on a program because of a lack of influence or a failure to present persuasive data, which is the main currency of the C-suite.

This is a much discussed issue in the HR profession.  The fact that we are still having it in 2012 is  disheartening, but not shocking.

As HR professionals, we still have work to do.  There is no quick fix.  We need to be persistent in our efforts to demonstrate value in each HR niche where we operate.  We need to build value.  We need to speak the language of the C-suite.

Some HR people are great at this. Some of us struggle with it, but we can all get better.  Here is a short list of resources to get your started if you want to dig deeper into this topic.

  1. Business case resources for talent management strategies
  2. What does the C-suite  want from HR?
  3. Navigating the C-Suite – Leadership Imperatives for HR
  4. How strategic HR wins the keys to the C-suite

What tips and tricks do you use for advancing your initiatives in the C-suite?

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Secret diary of an introverted “extrovert”

Cut out the chit chat and get down to business

Sone dudes engaged in serious all you can eat ...
Some dudes eating wings:  photo: mvndrvrt

I wrote this piece for Sanera Camp, a small business blog  run by my friend Alicia Arenas.   The original title was “4 Tips For People Who Don’t Like Networking”.   Basically, it offers up some ideas on how I use social networking to meet people virtually and enhance my personal networking experience.

It also helps cut down on the bullshit chit chat.  Check it out if you haven’t already seen it over at Sanera Camp.  Be sure to check out the other great content for small business and business leaders over there as well, including my buddy Dave Ryan.

How To Network In A Connected World

Networking is a critically important business skill.  We all network in some way, even if it is just saying hello at the coffee machine, or nodding a silent greeting to the convenience store clerk when buying gas.   It matters to people when you remember them, and take to the time to acknowledge them.

There is great value in a network.  As the old saying goes. you never know how the next person you meet may change your life.  People know this, and want to make their networks work for them, yet many struggle at doing so.

Some people are great at  building a Rolodex and working it.  Other people never forget a name and a face.  Working a room comes naturally to a lucky few, but many people struggle when it comes to developing new contacts, or forming relationships in new business sectors.  I include myself in that group.   I stink at cold calls and making meaningless small talk, which are the first steps in building a networking relationship.  I am much better at networking when I know something about the people I am meeting or the event I am attending than I am when it is a cold room.  I’ve had to learn how to get around this issue in order to be an effective networker.

Become acquainted before the meeting

Here’s one method I use that’s worked really well to help me overcome my own shortcomings.

I’m a big proponent of social media tools.  I use them all the time.  They allow me to form relationships with people on-line before we meet in person.  When we do meet, it is more like becoming more acquainted than it is like meeting someone for the first time.   This is especially effective if you have a professional group membership or some other interest in common with these folks.

It doesn’t always work that way though, right?  Sometimes you need to break into a new space, or need to attend a conference where you don’t know anyone.  Believe it or not, there are tools available to help you get around this.  I use them all the time.  Here are few of them I really like.  You’ll need to poke around a little on each of these sites, and will need to create an account for them to be really helpful.  All of them are great tools for finding meetings you may want to attend, or for finding out if you know anyone that is planning to attend.   They are also great tools for creating your own groups or meeting events.

4 Tools For Networking

  • Plancast – is  a great way to discover events, manage your social calendars or meet people with similar interests.
  • Meetup –  is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face.
  • Eventbrite – helps people discover events that match their passions, and let’s them share the events they’re creating or joining, bringing more people together around the world.
  • Lanyrd –  lets you see what your friends are going to or speaking at, find conferences near you or browse conferences by topic.

All of these tools have mobile apps as well. All will help you network more effectively if you incorporate them into your personal toolkit.  Happy connecting!!

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