Professional associations and groups were never my thing. I was always “too busy” to go to meetings (during which time I would not be getting work done) and I was always way behind on my workload anyway. Plus, filling out the forms for award entries took so much time and detail; I was sure I just didn’t have the time to spare.
I was wrong. And I learned why this week.
I joined the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Montréal Chapter earlier this year when we moved here. I knew it would help me make professional connections in our new city/country.
While attending our chapter meeting this week, the chapter president approached me with such excitement I knew something had gone terribly right. And it did.
A woman who was vacationing in Montréal from her home near Atlanta, Georgia was walking along Sherbrooke Street as the sun was setting and our autumn wind was picking up when she saw a sign in the door to the Café des Beaux-Arts saying “IABC/Montréal Meeting Tonight”.
She works for a PR firm in Georgia and is an IABC member there and she obviously finds so much value in the group that she pushed her dinner plans two-hours later so she could sit in our meeting – right there on the spot.
Of course, we welcomed her with open arms, announced her excitedly as a special guest, and were rewarded when she contributed a great deal to the discussion on the topic of our presentation, Return On Investment for Social Media Campaigns. She even spoke French!!*
We all celebrated her attendance as truly embodying the “I” in IABC and, personally, she taught me how easy it can be to get a little and give a lot to a group, association, or organization like this.
Whatever you’re into, look for a group of your peers and get together formally or informally to share your experiences, your dreams, even your frustrations. Sometimes we can feel like ‘nobody would understand’. But it feels so good to meet people who do understand, and it feels even better when your peers express how glad they are that you joined them.
You may just find that those you can relate to and learn from are everywhere you go. You don’t have to make a special trip. You simply have to look for the sign in the window that says, “Come In”.
* The IABC/Montréal is proud to be the only officially bilingual chapter in the world.