By Brett Zielke
March is Member Month at IABC! In honour of that, and because this is my first contribution to the blog (which is very exciting!), I decided to write about how being a member of IABC/Calgary has helped me in my young career.
I am a recent member of IABC, only joining late last summer, but not before I had numerous professionals strongly recommend that I do. See, I had been doing lots of networking on my own, given that I am originally from Vancouver and don’t have a very large, natural network in Calgary. Reaching out through LinkedIn to meet people can be hit or miss, but every person I met with always suggested that I join communications groups, and IABC was at the top of the list for all of them.
So, after putting it off for several months, I finally joined. Unfortunately, with work and life I wasn’t able to make it to any of the numerous IABC events that were put on until the Christmas party. This turned out to probably be the best event to attend though! I mean, if there’s ever a good event to attend, Christmas parties are usually a good choice.
I walked in as a bit of a deer in headlights, knowing only one person there. That contact of mine was nice enough to introduce me to one or two people, who in turn introduced me to one or two more, and so on and so on. From a professional stand point, in one night I met more communications professionals than I would’ve been able to meet in months doing it by myself. But more than that, I got to meet plenty of great people, learn about how they got into communications, what led them to Calgary, and why they love what they do. I had a blast; an evening that I thought would probably end early ended up stretching long into the night and was filled with lots of good laughs and stories.
In the few months since then, I’ve been able to reach out to a number of those connections I made that night for advice over a coffee or occasionally a beer. They’ve been able to offer me guidance on potential opportunities, help me make even more connections, or show me how to navigate the professional landscape of this city. Being a (still relatively) young professional in this city, who is a transplant here and building his network from scratch, this has been a gold mine. But outside of getting help to grow my network, it has been hugely comforting to hear from established communications professionals that they too went through early struggles when trying to make their way here. To be given words of encouragement from people who understand this industry specifically in this city helps keep you going when it can get frustrating.
So, to anyone who is considering joining any group or association, I can say that after doing my research and spending several months in this one, IABC is the one to go with! It’s filled with people who are not only fantastic professionals, but also great people as well, who are always willing to help you out and answer any questions you might have. Join IABC today!