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Expanding your connections in the IABC community

Expanding your connections in the IABC community

Amy Miller, IABC Heritage Region Chair

What do you want to do when you grow up?

When you were asked that question years ago, did you tell people you wanted to be a writer? A designer? A creative person? A strategist? Did people give you an amused smile or look at you like you were a hopeless dreamer?

Many of us came from that kind of start and found ways to get the right education and practical experience to turn our dreams into reality. Practical experience … like volunteering with the college newspaper or literary magazine. Volunteering for a non-profit. Volunteering to do communication work in a paid job that doesn’t officially include communication. Accepting low pay in an entry- level job as we “paid our dues,” grateful that we could live our dream, enjoying our work and barely paying off our school loans.

Along the way, we found IABC. Maybe it was the “international” aspect that sounded appealing. Perhaps it was the term “communicator” rather than another related discipline. Or maybe it was the people who brought us in.

Very shortly after I joined IABC in 2000, a board member in the local chapter asked me to volunteer as membership VP. She assured me that the work would be reasonable and it would be a great way to meet more people in the chapter. She was right. And I’ve never looked back. That role led to other volunteer leadership opportunities at the chapter and then the region level. Now, it’s hard to imagine working as a communication professional without being part of the IABC community.

It’s not that I’m outgoing. I tend to be introverted. But to thrive as a communicator, I need connection with others in our field—people who enjoy sharing ideas, trying new approaches and helping our peers. I believe we need to keep feeding our creativity and building our skills to bring our best to work every day.

When I moved away from my local chapter and became a member-at-large, I discovered how much IABC can help foster a strong virtual network. Now, as chair of the region board, I connect with professionals across our 17-state region regularly. We enjoy working on projects to support chapters and members. We meet regularly online and by phone. We help each other when job challenges arise. We learn new skills and gain leadership experience before we need it at work. And we form lasting friendships that transcend geographic boundaries.

We even enjoy getting together in person once in a while! This year I’ll see many IABC people at the Heritage Region Conference November 5 – 17 in Pittsburgh, PA. I encourage you to take a look at the website—and make a note in your calendar to check back in a month or so. We are finishing speaker selection now and will have much more information soon!

In conjunction with that event, the Heritage Region also holds a complimentary regional leadership Institute, providing an opportunity for chapter leaders to share best practices. I hope I’ll get a chance to meet some of you there.

As you think about the ways IABC can help you thrive, please consider volunteering in your local chapter. Volunteering—just a little, or more when you can—helps you get the greatest benefit from your IABC membership. As many experienced IABC volunteers attest, you really gain more than you give.

If you have volunteered locally and would like to enjoy some broader connections, you may want to explore opportunities on the region board. For example, past chapter presidents are ideal candidates to serve as chapter liaisons—helping a few chapters in different locations via email, phone, web calls and even in-person visits.

For each of us, IABC means learning, growing and sharing. I hope you enjoy making the most of your growing connections—locally and across our community.

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