Want a boost in 2020? Join the inner circle

I’m staring at a stack of business cards that I picked up from interesting people this year. Scrawled on the back are the dates and topics of the IABC/OC events where I met each person.

You’ve probably collected a stack of your own. And one of those IABC connections might pay off big someday, right? Because in addition to learning from speakers at events, we learn from one another and share referrals and job leads.

So, yes, register for our November panel luncheon and IndyComm and our holiday party. But do one more thing this week: Click on our Volunteer page and consider how you can really link in.

Fact is, among all of the people I have met at IABC, a few stand out from the pack: the ones listed here on the IABC/OC Board of Directors, and the handful of others who serve on our committees.

Since I first joined the board in 2015, my board colleagues and I have toasted our successes, risen to challenges in the organization and in our personal lives, and helped each other out when one of us got in a pinch.

We have gotten to know one another.

On the board, I have met people with the imagination to think big, the brainpower to lead strategically, and the organizational skills to get things done. I have met people who combine authority with kindness to lead effectively — in ways that make volunteers choose to follow.

So when some of my board friends have been in the job hunt, it has been a joy to recommend them to prospective employers without reservation and to watch their efforts pay off.

As 2019 draws to a close, I want to say thank you to the amazing people I have met on the board. (Thank you!) Looking ahead, we soon will be putting together the ballot for the 2020 board. So I want to invite you to volunteer. If you’re interested — or curious — send me an email at JohnDFabris@gmail.com. We have big roles and small roles. Let’s talk.

People join professional organizations like IABC because they want to learn. Or because they want to meet people who can help them in their career. Or because they want to help others.

Wherever you fall on that scale, there’s no better way to reach that goal than by joining the inner circle as part of the IABC/OC board.

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019

Join IABC in October: It’s an investment in your career, with a sweetener

[UPDATE: Membership Month deals have been extended through 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 7.]

Happy anniversary to me. Five years ago this month I clicked this link for the first time and never looked back. It’s the link to join IABC. Every October since then, I have not hesitated to renew.

Regardless of when you joined or last renewed, this month is the smartest (cheapest!) time to take the plunge. Just click the RENEW link on the top right of the IABC.com homepage.

I confess I paused as I enrolled the first time — on the page where you have to pull out a credit card and invest some money. But there are two reasons I pressed ahead, and continue to renew my membership at this time every year:

1. Because IABC membership pays off for your career better than any organization I have found.

2. Because October is Membership Month, the time when IABC International discounts memberships. And this year our local chapter, IABC/OC, is offering a free event as a special sweetener. (More on that below.)

Why join IABC?

When I compare IABC to other organizations, the first thing that stands out is how our members look out for one another. As I wrote in a previous President’s Letter, whether the crowd is small or large, I would describe our events as intimate. Supportive. With lots of laughs.

The other thing that stands out is the variety of communication disciplines we serve and draw from. We are communication strategists, writers, graphic designers, marketers, social media experts, journalists, photographers, editors and more. We draw professionals representing everything from public affairs, public relations, media relations and video production to corporate communications, human resources, employee communications and investor relations. We work for corporations, PR agencies, educational institutions and nonprofits. Many of us work independently.

Why is that span of expertise a good thing? In today’s world, successful communicators often wear multiple hats. A graphic designer might also do social media. A writer might do technical writing, script writing and journalism. So our Network & Knowledge series of monthly events provides education that serves a broad base rather than a tight vertical. As a side effect, we introduce you to a network of people in a variety of fields that need your talents.

Your membership includes free participation in IABC/OC IndyComm meetings, and an endless supply of materials at little or no cost via IABC International’s website (workshops, first dibs on jobs, award opportunities, articles, webinars, videos, a Hub for conversations and advice from members worldwide, and much more).

Your membership also makes you eligible to join the IABC/OC Board — where you learn the most, help the most, and make the best connections. We’ll soon be putting together the ballot for the 2020 board. So click that join link or renew before Oct. 31. And email me if you’d like to be on the board.

Why now?

I’m telling you all this now because October is Membership Month, and this year’s version is even better than years past:

• IABC International is offering its Membership Month discount — 10% off your International dues. Just type in the discount code “OCTOBER 10”.

• Plus our local chapter has a special sweetener: a Join & Go Offer. If you join or renew during October 2019, you will receive free admission to one upcoming IABC Orange County event.

When you join or renew by Oct. 31 and select Orange County as your chapter, you will receive an email from IABC Orange County with instructions on how to redeem your free event.
What if your membership doesn’t expire in October? It’s still smart to renew now. Your renewal will take effect for a full year starting when your current membership expires.

Get unglitched

This year, Membership Month is also an opportunity for people who were caught up in IABC International’s computer glitch.

Victoria Dew, IABC’s International Executive Board Chair, sent an email to all IABC members on Sept. 20 announcing the arrival of new IABC Interim Executive Director Erin McClain to “resolve some of the challenges we’ve faced this year.” Chief among those challenges were bugs in a technology rollout, which blocked people from registering and renewing. Also, some members might not have received their annual renewal notice.

If you’re not sure whether your membership is up to date, log on to IABC.com, click the “My IABC” button, then click “My Membership.” You’ll see your status.

The site is up and running now. So whatever your status, now’s a great time to join or renew.

If you have questions, please send an email to me or IABC/OC Vice President of Membership Tammy Nienaber.

We’re pleased to have you as a member.

John Fabris
IABC/OC president, 2019

In gratitude for your support

The beginning of the new year prompts us to review the past year’s achievements, milestones, and challenges, and to look ahead to a new year full of possibilities.

For the IABC Orange County chapter, 2018 was full of stimulating programs on cutting-edge communications issues. We discussed hacking dangers and safeguarding clients’ privacy; cultivated advice from a top communications recruiter; offered professional advice at an innovative drop-in coffee session for recent college graduates; received valuable advice on communications measurement and the neuroscience of marketing; and enjoyed an evening game with the Anaheim Ducks, including a presentation on sports marketing from a Ducks marketing executive.

Our December holiday party was a highlight as well. This caliber of the year’s outstanding monthly programs is thanks to Cara Raffele, our diligent Vice President for Professional Development, and her committee, comprised of Events Director Jennifer Mower, Professional Development Director Lisa Thomas, and Bridget Soden Mills.

New chapter President John Fabris has proven to be an invaluable asset for our chapter as Vice President for Administration and President Elect. John has attracted an equally stellar board of directors and officers slate for 2019, and we can look forward to many more compelling programs in the months to come.

I’d like to thank all of you for helping make this year a successful one for IABC Orange County. Without the enthusiasm and involvement of our members we would never be able to achieve these milestones.

We have a robust and engaged membership, thanks to outgoing Vice President for Membership Judy Iannaccone and Director of Membership Ciara O’Keeffe. And we stay in touch through the many efforts of Vice President for Communications Stephanie Stiles and her committee.

Thanks to Vice President for Special Interest Groups Claudia Miller, we hosted several compelling 2018 programs for members of two groups, IndyComm for independent communications consultants and the Mastermind Group, which is studying the how-to marketing book, “The Brand Called You.” Our most recent IndyComm meeting in November featured Cara offering a stimulating presentation on personal branding, brand archetypes, and cultivating a persona that opens doors.

Past President Michael Shepherd was our senior delegate to IABC International and sustained our sponsorship efforts, and Sarah Willis keeps an eagle eye on our budget as Vice President for Finance.

I am so honored to have served as IABC OC president this year. I’ve treasured the opportunity to develop friendships and cultivate professional relationships, and the leadership experience has been invaluable. Thank you for letting me serve this fine organization – I look forward to continuing to see IABC OC progress and thrive in 2019.

Cathi Douglas, APR
IABC/OC president, 2018

How IABC can improve your life

Striving for happiness is a constant challenge. It becomes nearly impossible when we face big changes at home or work. Unless we set boundaries, unrelieved anxiety can fester into life-threatening health issues – not to mention problems with our spouses and families.

We’re all stressed out

Four years ago, I neglected the danger signs when my father passed away, my workload increased, and the demands of my job felt impossible. Tension, anxiety, and worry gave way to major depression. Ultimately, I missed several weeks of work.

Supportive friends and colleagues are critical

A big reason I’ve been able to move past my major depression – and a painful job layoff that followed – is the support I receive from friends and colleagues, including the warm and welcoming members of IABC Orange County.

Though participation in IABC events and especially my involvement in IndyComm, our subgroup of independent communications consultants, I’ve learned about the business side of my work and received unwavering encouragement from colleagues. These people provide me with the boost I need to keep my business flourishing, and my confidence soaring.

Involvement pays off

I initially resisted the kind suggestion of IABC board members who urged me to serve as chapter president in 2018. Yet, my first eight months in office have been rewarding, educational, and fulfilling as no other job could have been. I’m proud to contribute to a worthy organization that serves the communications community – particularly in a tumultuous period when our professionalism is questioned at the highest national levels.

Corporate social responsibility panel marks 9/11

Please consider participating in our annual Corporate Social Responsibility panel, which takes place, fittingly, on Tuesday, Sept. 11 from 11:30-1 p.m. at JT Schmid’s at The District in Tustin.

This year’s event promises to build on the success of our CSR events held during the past several years. You won’t want to miss it.

More to come …

Please stay tuned and mark your calendars for fall and winter IABC Orange County events including: An evening with the Ducks at the Honda Center on Wednesday, Oct. 17; professional speaker Leisa Reed presenting “Emotional Intelligence & Your Professional Success” at our Nov. 13 luncheon; and a gala holiday party in early December at Il Fornaio restaurant.

Cathi Douglas
IABC/OC president, 2018

Seeking new knowledge? Become an IABC/OC volunteer

When you rely on LinkedIn, Indeed, or Monster for job leads, you recognize that competition is fierce for available communications positions.

Even if you aren’t looking for your next opportunity, it’s difficult to ignore the fact that other communications professionals are eager to move up the ladder, sniff around your workplace, and even snatch your job away.

How can you retain your relevance when you’re already working to capacity? What bright new ideas can you generate to let the boss know you’re an engaged and valuable commodity? Where can you gain some experience outside your immediate job description?

The answer to all three of these questions is simple: By volunteering to assist IABC Orange County, you can learn new skills, brainstorm new ideas, and see the new ways other pros successfully communicate. While it doesn’t pay a salary, an IABC/OC volunteer position lets you become a leader with very little downside.

IABC/OC needs you

In my experience, leading professional organizations is rewarding on several levels. Not only does it train you to work collaboratively with others, it also forces you out of your comfort zone and into a place where your ideas are given serious consideration.

Once you rise to a leadership role in IABC/OC, you can correlate directly the effectiveness and ingenuity of your suggestions – and consider the reasons you are or are not effective.

Colleagues grow to respect your dedication to the common cause. For me, that meant recognition of my adherence to a professional code of ethics and earning an accreditation in public relations that few pros attain.

Serving as president of IABC Orange County has allowed me to meet communications professionals – graphic artists, writers, public affairs directors and corporate marketing heads – from throughout North America. Sharing ideas for common concerns has taught me that there are usually a few answers to every thorny issue as long as you remain open to fresh insights.

Does volunteering take up valuable free time? Yes, and unless you’re willing to give up a few “Seinfeld” reruns you won’t yield the rewards of helping others who need you.

Is volunteer leadership demanding? I won’t lie. Sometimes being a volunteer leader is as politically rife as one’s ‘real’ job. But wow, what a way to learn – you aren’t gambling your job when you fail to adopt a budget or if your speaker doesn’t show up.

Are the rewards of volunteering immediate and measurable? Not always. But as I’ve accumulated leadership roles in several professional organizations, I’ve developed a strong, broad network comprised of professionals in many areas of expertise. I feel good about reaching out to seek advice or assistance.

It’s for a good cause

No matter the affiliation, volunteer positions require the same leadership skills, donations of time and talents, and monetary donations to keep the association strong and operational.

My daughter and I spent a year working for School on Wheels, an organization dedicated to tutoring homeless children. It wasn’t always easy to get our young charges to focus on their homework or read a book, but we knew every time we stepped through the classroom door that these kids needed us.

If you go into a nonprofit organization such as IABC/OC knowing you can make a difference with your time, contacts, and experience, volunteering will begin to pay off almost immediately.

Recognizing that your hours of volunteer work assist others is a strong motivation. It’s amazing to see your efforts pay off.

Cathi Douglas
IABC/OC president, 2018

What is a leader?

At the newspaper where I landed my first job, the best writers were plucked from the newsroom and promoted to editors.

And while some of them were inspiring and talented, there was little understanding that a good writer doesn’t always make the best leader.

What does being a leader mean? How can you gain leadership skills to prepare for future success?

Leadership – like every valuable skill – is something you develop over time. In a recent Inc. magazine column, best-selling author Jacob Morgan notes that the best leaders are not always at the top of the organization chart. “It relies on your ability to influence and engage other people,” he says.

One of the many good reasons to join IABC Orange County and become engaged with the organization is the opportunity to hone your leadership skills. We offer committee jobs, board positions, and other opportunities to develop strategy and programs.

Through IABC/OC you will learn to plan, staff, and execute special events; develop your writing and editing skills; provide strategic leadership to an impressive and far-reaching international organization; and learn leadership skills working side-by-side with experienced colleagues in a variety of communications fields.

When I joined the organization several years ago, I was immediately welcomed into the Communications Committee and began writing stories for the newsletter. In a short time, I was given more responsibilities and helped with the organization and planning of events for our subgroup, IndyComm, which serves independent consultants like me.

It was flattering to be asked to lead an organization like IABC Orange County, but I realized right away that the position requires a lot of good leaders – not just one – to be successful. I am fortunate to work with a board full of dedicated people who want success for our association and the communicators it serves.

New board members Cara Raffele of The Brand Journalist, our Vice President for Professional Development, Eva Finn of Eva Finn Copywriting & Concepts, who heads our Job Board, and Jennifer Mower of Alzheimer’s Orange County, who is our new Events Director, bring a wealth of experience and perspective.

Combined with senior strategists like graphic artist Claudia Miller, who presented at our May mixer and heads ADirections, these new members will help guide IABC Orange County to success in the remaining months of 2018.

Recently recognized as IABC International’s Regional Leader of the Year, Claudia has served as Chapter Advocate for the Pacific Plains Region. A two-time former Orange County Chapter president, she helped lead the 2011 board to become the Mid-Size Chapter of the Year.

A big thank-you to Claudia for her stimulating discussion of the latest graphics trends and the dos and don’ts of working with graphic artists. A small-but-mighty group welcomed the knowledge and inspiration Claudia shared.

If you are interested in becoming more involved with IABC Orange County, please contact me or any of the board members. We’d love to have you.

Cathi Douglas
IABC/OC president, 2018

If your professional goals include honing your leadership skills, growing your network, gaining a wider view of the communications profession, enhancing your skill set by volunteering to do something you don’t do in your current job, look to IABC/OC to unlock new opportunities.
We have opportunities for both short-term assignments and board positions. Note that board assignments are reserved for chapter members, but short-term assignments are open to all.
Current volunteer opportunities are listed below. For additional information, contact VP of Membership Judy Iannaccone at iannaccone_judy@rsccd.edu or at (714) 480-7503 (office) or (714) 222-4777 (mobile).
Director of Sponsorship: This board position serves as an liaison with existing sponsors and prospects; handles sponsorship inquiries, communicates regularly with IABC/OC president; follows through on supplying new sponsor’s logo to VP communication; and be sponsors’ contact before, during and after events. The position reports to the Chapter President. Must be a member of IABC.
IndyComm Coordinator: IndyComm is designed for independent communication consultants who want to discover creative ways of marketing their businesses, attract new clients, acquire a higher level of business acumen and network and brainstorm with like-minded professionals. Ideally, you are an independent practitioner who would like to offer support by helping to secure relevant presenters for this cutting-edge IABC/OC program.
Director of Student Education/Outreach: This board position serves as an liaison with IABC student chapter at Chapman University; handles requests for professional chapter’s participation in student chapter events, communicates regularly with Chapman University student chapter advisor and leadership; reports on student chapter activities to board, promotes IABC benefits to college/university students in and around Orange County. The position reports to the Vice President of Membership. Must be a member of IABC.