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Publications > Dateline Houston > September 2002 > Feature Article


Volume 42, Issue 1

September 2002

STC Participation Pays Big Dividends!

by Suzanna Laurent, Region 5 Conference Manager, Senior Member, Oklahoma Chapter

I am a firm believer that what you get out of anything is in direct proportion to what you put into it. You learn new skills and discover hidden talents by participating in STC chapter activities. I do stress the word “participating,” though, because just being a member does not produce the same results. I found a new career that I really enjoy because of my involvement in another organization. After I volunteered to do the chapter newsletter, I started winning awards for it. So, when I finally started to college, I studied writing. I earned a degree in technical writing—already knowing that I not only enjoyed the work but was good at it, too. I received these two great benefits from participating in activities.

One of the greatest challenges in STC chapters is getting members involved in chapter activities! Do you ever wonder why people hesitate to get involved when they have so much to gain from it? Let’s review some of their reasons and my responses to them.

No one asked me to do it

Have you asked them to do the job? Take the time to sit down with them to explain the benefits they can receive from doing the job, show them what needs to be done, and then ask them to do it. A phone call often works, but it is much more powerful to ask in person!

I don’t have enough time

In today’s world there is so much to do that people choose what helps them meet their needs best! By participating in chapter activities, they learn to juggle multiple projects and sharpen interpersonal skills, which in turn inspires them to accomplish even more. Now, that’s a win-win situation!

I need to improve my job skills, not spend time volunteering.

Most skills learned while working on chapter projects can be used on the job. Those skills include time management, problem solving, working with others, marketing, public speaking, teamwork, project management, delegating, and assertiveness. To find out how members want to improve, ask them questions like “Why did you join STC? What do you expect to receive from your STC membership? What do you do on the job? What skills or traits would you like to improve?” The answers can be used to match people to projects.

Networking doesn’t help me on the job

Networking can be defined in many ways. Each time I have changed jobs, the lead came through an STC friend. Networking can mean getting job leads or asking for help with a software program or building a successful consulting business.

I don’t know how to do it

Do you have plenty of “how to” information available? Is there an experienced mentor standing by to answer questions? Have you empowered them to do the job and allowed for some creativity? Sometimes all you need to do is make sure they have the resources to perform the work.

I hope this article gives you some ideas about how to get members involved, whether you need help with chapter leadership or staffing a committee. You should also realize that some people just don’t want to be actively involved, and that’s okay! Often though, some members are just waiting for a chance to show what they can do. Their reward is personal and professional growth, self-satisfaction, and a chance to make a difference in the technical communication field.


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