Posted By Mark Kretschmar, Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Wow. Did I, the president of a professional association, just say that out loud (metaphorically speaking)? Yeah, I did. It’s one of the most important lessons I’ve learned through a couple decades as a professional communicator. And it is the centerpiece of my engagement in IABC and the resulting pleasure and benefit I’ve received from it.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a part of IABC, some other professional association, or no professional association at all. The sum total of our lives must be about more than professional achievement. I expect you all know that already. Our family, relationships and spiritual lives must command a bigger piece of our “success” pie in spite of the tremendous amount of time and effort we expend toward our careers.

Why not use professional associations to enhance all the areas of our lives?

As I write this, I’m preparing to head out to our Gift of Communication event where about 30 pro communicators will be helping 10 nonprofits solve communication problems. Gift of Communication is the event that first got me involved in IABC. Oh, I had been a member for a couple of years and attended some events but had no relationships. My skills were growing, but it wasn’t ultimately satisfying. Through Gift of Communication and volunteering, I began to make friends within IABC. Now at every event I attend there are people I’m happy to see and who are happy to see me (or so it appears anyway). That’s what draws me to the events and the organization – the people, the relationships, the sense of belonging – all so much more important than strategies for advancing my career.

This seems to be something that sets IABC apart from other professional associations. People are engaged with each other on a more personal level. Every conversation doesn’t feel like merely an exploration of career opportunities. Make no mistake, career advancement happens through IABC, but it happens among your friends.