This is about the importance of professional association membership to a career in communication/PR.
I got my first corporate communication job in 1973. I had an enlightened boss who encouraged me to join IABC. He not only advised me to join, but said I should take committee assignments and officer positions, too. Little did he know that he created a life-long IABC zealot.
While attending my first IABC conference soon after joining, I met a few people who formed the nucleus of a group of friends that I still have to this day. This happy little band of communicators worked hard, played hard, and laughed with wild abandon. We gathered at everything IABC offered. We worked our way up through IABC chapter leadership positions, then district leadership jobs, and for many of us, on to Camelot and the Round Table, the Executive Board. My boss was correct: you learn so much more and get so much more out of professional association membership by getting involved. Checkbook membership alone sucks.
When we met, we always had to sit together no matter the venue. We would crowd into one booth or at one table so that someone once observed that we were always “scrunched up.” The name stuck, and we band of crazies are forever known as the Scrunch Bunch. But tempus sure does fugit, doesn’t it. With time, we saw less and less of each other.
Recently, we managed to reconnect via that wonder of techno wonders, email. Now we are happily sharing all sorts of work and life experiences as if we had just arrived at conference. We are planning a F-2-F reunion at the International Conference in New Orleans this June.
The point is this — you will get so much more out of your career if you join and get active in a professional association. Why? Several reasons:
- Networking. That’s where you meet and interact with other like-minded professionals. It’s called “networking,” and networking works. I got every good corporate job and most all of my consulting clients, both domestic and international, through IABC. No brag, just fact. IABC is truly international. My network is worldwide because of IABC.
- Professional development. IABC has always been my graduate school. I knew I could always count on IABC for communication/PR professional development. So when I went to real graduate school, I got an MBA to learn more about business. Then, I wrote a manual on business management for communicators. Guess who published it? You bet — IABC.
- Friends. As my Scrunch Bunch recollections illustrate, you will meet the best people — the smartest, the most accomplished, the most helpful, the funniest, the hippest, the most supportive, and the most well-connected — through IABC. To be fair, other professional associations have merit, but IABC is by far the most welcoming.
If you are a student, don’t wait until you graduate. If your school has a student PR group like Towson does, then join now.