Who are you?

Maybe you’ve done it all in your career, seen it all, written it all, planned it all — you’re thinking: no new tricks for this old dog.

Or … maybe you’re in your first or second communications job, still a bit green and lean, and perhaps intimidated by the seasoned communicators around you or daunted by the path ahead.

Or … you’re somewhere in between those points in your career.

Take me for instance. I’ve been a communicator for more than 30 years, having worked for several of the Bay Area’s big-name companies. And I’ve been an IABC member on and off for many of those years, mostly when my company paid for it. I even won an International Gold Quill. But I was never very active in my local chapter, SF IABC. 

Recharging and refreshing

Then I left the organization I’d been with for 15 years and wanted to take advantage of my new-found flexibility to boost my networking as well as invest more in my professional development. I renewed my IABC membership, started reading Catalyst and other resources that came my way, participated in some webinars and joined some great networking events. And guess what? I learned some new tricks. Engaging more with IABC broadened my perspective and actually gave me some good insights to share in interviews as I started exploring other companies.

Connections and opportunities

I was asked to join the San Francisco chapter’s executive board as vice president, Communications — which was a nice opportunity to give back to the profession I have enjoyed for decades and to expand my network and exposure. Even nicer: Fellow executive board member Kristie King, who worked at one of my target companies, mentioned an open role there. She talked to me about the company and its culture and then referred me. Turns out the hiring manager was also an IABC member. I now lead Employee Communications for CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer, and I couldn’t be happier. Kristie is now our chapter president and my work colleague.

Early careers find a home

Then there’s Amanda Tran, who managed our chapter’s Twitter presence on the Communications team with me last year. Now she is student outreach & membership manager on our Membership team. A talented internal communications specialist at AppDynamics, Amanda started her communications career with a PR internship five years ago. After becoming active in IABC in 2017, she saw her network blossom.

“I joined SF IABC during my first year out of college when I wasn’t even sure what working in communications really meant yet!” said Amanda. “But during the past four years with this association, I made connections with more experienced comms professionals who helped guide me and was able to volunteer for roles that I wouldn’t normally get to do at work. When I was ready to find a new job, my experience volunteering at SF IABC gave my resume an extra boost, which was much needed since I was early in my career.”

So, whoever you are — in whatever career stage — IABC and the people in it are here to support you. If you haven’t considered membership before, or you’ve just let yours lapse, consider joining today! And if you’re a member but not really mining the rich benefits, there’s no time like now. Attend an event, contribute content or ask about volunteer opportunities. Contact me for more information.

Dani Townsend is vice president, Communications, for the San Francisco chapter of IABC and leads Employee Communications for CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer.