For an independent communications consultant (or for someone who aspires to be one), a sense of community and camaraderie become extremely important – not only to leverage best practices and increase business but also to grow and learn as a professional by developing strong relationships with fellow independents. Molly Walker, who founded her sole proprietorship, Walker Communications, in 1999, shares, “I wasn’t always an independent consultant; I worked in the corporate world and wanted to make the shift. So I interviewed, met, and learned from other experienced individuals. Without this community, I would not have known how to proceed.”

SF IABC recognizes the need to connect independent communicators and expand their profession. With its special interest group – the Independent Communicators’ Roundtable (ICR) – independent communicators can share best practices in managing and marketing their businesses, recommend resources and job leads, and form great friendships. Molly also talks about how this community helped her gain skills, and how she has met some great people through IABC and ICR, forging mutually beneficial relationships and referring business.

ICR is a dynamic learning community, an evolving entity that supports participants in honing their skills as leaders and strategic thinkers. It is also a free benefit for SF IABC members. With ICR, businesses can see independents as an important part of the ecosystem and vital to the communications profession.

Benefits of ICR

The ICR community is a valuable resource that:

  • Serves as a great referral network, with members having similar kinds of skills but specializing in different industries and using different communications vehicles.
  • Offers a great opportunity to learn from others more experienced than you, or who have dealt with a situation you may not have experience in.
  • Helps you gain trusted partners and create long-lasting relationships.  
  • Understands what it means to be an independent consultant in the Bay Area in 2018, including the challenges and the exciting opportunities that go along with it.
  • Provides tips on how to grow your business and run it more efficiently.

Kamna Narain, Internal Communications Advisor and Coach, talks about the real, tangible benefits she has seen, being an independent consultant for the past five years and the partnerships she’s formed: “I met a graphic designer at an ICR Connect meeting in October 2017, and a few months ago when I needed some design help, this person stepped in and we’ve been working together ever since. I also had a client who was looking for writers with a special focus on finance for a website. Since it was not my domain of expertise, I reached out to a fellow SF IABC board member whom I remembered had mentioned his specialization in financial writing. None of these stories would have happened without ICR. It has also given me the opportunity to do some speaking and training sessions, which has helped my business as a coach, and I think it’s a great and safe space to test the waters and expand your expertise. People sometimes don’t realize the true value of a partnering network, which is exactly what ICR is.”

To serve our constantly evolving community and geographically diverse membership, ICR meetups are held rotationally every month in San Francisco, Oakland, and Walnut Creek/San Ramon. Three event formats are offered:

  • General ICR meeting – a topic-based workshop or discussion.
  • ICR Connect – a structured networking session with a close-knit group of eight attendees.
  • ICR Luncheon – an informal lunchtime gathering of independent communicators.

Interested in joining this unique group of dynamic people? Join the ICR committee and help us plan relevant in-person and virtual events for independent communicators around the Bay Area. Joining this committee – and the SF IABC Board and Volunteer team by extension – is an easy and fun way to get visibility for your business, grow your network, and develop and refine relevant skills so you can better serve your clients. Visit our Volunteer page to learn more and submit an interest form.

If you have further questions, or would like to know more about ICR, you can reach out to Stacy Lavilla or Natasha Terk.

Shilpa Maggon is an experienced communications professional who has worked in the PR, Marketing and Internal Communications fields for the past several years. She has been an active content development volunteer with the SF IABC chapter since 2017 and is currently looking for new professional opportunities. Connect with Shilpa on LinkedIn: