Networking and Educational Development via Industry Associations. I have the pleasure of being in a great professional organization or two. One of these I have mentioned previously, the Society for Human Resource Management or SHRM. I am a member of this association because my daily work involves workforce planning and development, a key focus area of the Human Resource profession. The organization serves as a hub of information for me, allowing me to remain “tapped in” to the current local information, the reception of that information from the industry, and the feedback being provided real-time. In other words, being involved in this association keeps me “current.”
However, the benefits of an association membership stretch far beyond this tactile information sharing. The network of the organization itself is valuable. Knowing people lets me know other people. All of these people have knowledge and interests, and knowing more people and people who know people lets me know more. One of these more intangible benefits is knowing about the local job market. I find out who’s hiring and who’s moving to new positions often sooner than the public would know. I also get to hear the “buzz” sooner on any trends or hot topics that might be coming up the pipeline. So, what is useful about that for a job search?
Let me answer by telling a story. Recently, I attended a committee meeting for the local SHRM affiliate, HR Houston. In speaking to another committee member, she asked if I was attending the national conference for SHRM and I said, “I’d love to and I still might, but it is VERY expensive.” Of course she reminded me of the value of attendance, but as we continued to talk we learned that we had a mutual acquaintance. This person happened to work in Human Resources for a food and beverage distributor in Las Vegas, where the SHRM conference would be taking place. She also said that this person would be hosting a special pre-conference seminar for recent graduates looking into HR-related professions within her industry. She also said this person was looking for a few more panelists to speak to the students.
Well, I thought, why not give her a call. So I did, and we talked and reminisced about our time in graduate school together. We talked about our newly discovered mutual acquaintance (all good things of course). And then, she invited me to speak at her seminar. She also offered to cover my airfare! Well, this was great but I could not ask her to do that. She insisted as her other guests were being flown in from as far as Ireland!
In working “the network,” I decided this added more value to attending the conference and decided to confirm my attendance. Booked the conference, booked my flight, and finally booked a room at Caesar’s Palace! Sure, it’s Las Vegas, but the purpose of the trip is to share information and gain information. All of this opportunity came from my active membership in an industry association.
Danny Zendejas is the Senior Business Consultant specializing in the Education Industry for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.