untitled (2)Act 1: The ingénue hits the big city

When I first arrived at the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), I was working in the Ontario government, appalled that bureaucrats were rewriting my news releases and whispering in meetings.

Nobody had not warned me about this in school. Thanks goodness, IABC Toronto members understood.

Officially, I learned about preparing for printing, planning strategy and many other skills not covered in university.

But what I welcomed most was the camaraderie around the lunch tables and the pre-tower view from the top of Sutton Place. These new friends offered reassurance, stories about how they survived office politics and tips on how to tie a scarf. I hate to think how I would have handled this transition were it not for IABC.

Then I left for several years, because of penny-pinching employers and my IABC-inspired confidence.

Act 2: The mompreneur returns

When I became a freelance writer, I joined again, seeking business. Members like Dawneen MacKenzie, Kendall Nathanson and Rosemary MacGilchrist became loyal clients and friends.

The key to meeting and impressing was chapter involvement. I started writing articles for Communicator. I led local marketing for the international conference.

My business booming and biological clock banging, I started a family. When my kids were young, I still enjoyed lunch meetings but reserved my evenings for them. As they grew, I socialized more at Munch ‘n’ Mingles and learned about running a business at the Association of Independent Practitioners (AIP).

Act 3: The volunteer lights fires

My volunteer spirit ignited when I worked with planning wizard Leslie Hetherington on a conference on corporate transparency, The Naked Communicator.

I followed Leslie to the professional development committee. I continued to write for Communicator. I judged Ovation and Silver Leaf awards. I spoke up at think tanks. I’m a worker bee, so becoming a board queen never appealed to me.

When Cyrus Mavalwala from AIP asked me if I’d be interested in chairing, I figured his team’s heavy lifting would mean a light load. But soon the executive and I were moving the newsletter online, rebranding as Professional Independent Communicators (PIC), publicizing, integrating operations with the chapter and more.

Next I was firing up the chapter blog. Like me, I knew that other communicators would love unleashing their experience and wisdom with no interference.

Act 4: The force gathers energy

Lately the beacon from my volunteer spirit has dimmed, as I look inward to gather inspiration and strength for the final chapter of my work story. Of course IABC is part of the plot I am hatching.

Good stories don’t just peter out, so count on me to do something outrageous to build that final arc. Maybe the final strike for world domination of my plain language crusade, a coup in San Francisco or the revenge of the hot crones.

Stay tuned for Act 5, brought to you by Barb Sawyers, blogger at www.stickycommunication.ca and www.barbsawyers.ca, author of the book and learning program Write Like You Talk Only Better. Coming soon: Corporate Storytelling: It Ain’t Star Wars—or Is It?

A version of this post will appear in an upcoming issue of Toronto IABC’s Communicator.

What’s your IABC story?

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Me and IABC in nearly five acts
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