I’ve been involved with IABC Central Oklahoma for about five years, and I previously served on the board of IABC St. Louis as well. IABC has been an integral part of my career development in many ways. I’ve attended professional development lunches to learn from talented communicators, found vendors and strategic partners through networking events and been both a mentee and a mentor.
These people are my tribe. They are my colleagues, my mentors and my friends. And that tribe reaches far beyond simply the Central Oklahoma chapter.
Here are the top three reasons IABC is my tribe.
Connecting with local communicators
When I moved back to Oklahoma City in 2012, I knew very few people professionally, and I was still searching for the right job. The first place I turned was IABC Central Oklahoma. They gave me a warm Oklahoma welcome, sent job leads my way and passed my resume on to contacts at key companies. At each event I attended, they asked how the job search was going and what else they could do to help.
The same sense of community and connection existed back when I first joined IABC through the St. Louis chapter in 2009. I quickly made connections with communicators at small and large organizations throughout the city. And that community still exists today, even though I no longer live there. I stay connected with several former chapter leaders in St. Louis, and I even had the opportunity to help one of them in a job search a little while ago.
Growing professionally and personally
Simply being a member of IABC provides opportunities to grow, but being involved as an IABC volunteer offers even more. There are board and committee positions that allow volunteers to learn new skills or expand existing skills in communications and business. In my time volunteering with IABC, I’ve served as Bronze Quill awards chair, secretary, vice president of membership and now president. Through these roles, I’ve expanded my skills in event planning, budgeting, sales and much more. I’ve stepped outside of my comfort zone, had difficult conversations and learned from both successes and failures.
One of the things I love most about volunteering with IABC is that we encourage each other to try new things. And if it doesn’t work, that’s OK. We absolutely strive for excellence as a board, but we also recognize that everyone needs a safe place to fail. So if you’re looking to expand your skills in an area of communications or leadership where you have limited experience, volunteering with IABC is a great place to do it. The collective knowledge of the board members can help guide you along the way as you learn a new skill.
There’s opportunity for growth beyond just the local chapter as well. Each year in February, IABC International hosts Leadership Institute (LI for short), which is an opportunity for chapter leaders from around the world to come together and celebrate successes and share ideas. We have candid conversations with the CEO and other staff members of IABC International and members of the International Executive Board. For those who’ve been to LI or other IABC conferences more than once, it’s basically a family reunion of communication nerds, and it’s so much fun.
The Leadership Institute schedule includes the annual Chapter Management Awards banquet, keynote speakers on topics related to both chapter and business leadership and breakout sessions on a wide range of topics. It’s an opportunity to grow not only as chapter leaders, but also as professional communicators, as many of the topics can be applied to our daily work in addition to our chapter work. Breakout topics at the 2018 LI included things like effectively using survey data to drive decisions, how to have difficult conversations, tips for developing a mentor program, understanding and adapting to different leadership styles and much more.
Engaging with a national and international network
Having attended LI the past two years plus the IABC Southern Region conference in 2017, my tribe now includes IABC members from Texas, Minnesota, North Dakota, North Carolina, New Jersey, California, Canada, Denmark, Jamaica and many more places.
If I were visiting any of those places, I know I could attend an IABC meeting and they would welcome me just as both the St. Louis and Central Oklahoma chapters did. I also know that I could meet a fellow chapter leader for coffee in their city, and I frequently reach out to other chapter leaders via email or LinkedIn to share resources and ideas related to leading our chapters.
My daily work doesn’t involve global communications, but there’s still much to learn from IABC members around the globe. As a whole, IABC leaders are some of the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met because we realize that we’re all in this together to advance our profession and support IABC as an organization.
Looking for a tribe?
If you’re looking for a tribe of professional communicators, we invite you to explore all that IABC has to offer. Come visit one of our professional development luncheons, attend a happy hour or consider becoming a volunteer. I promise that you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn and grow from this wonderful tribe.