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