Jo Detavernier, SCMP, APR
There is no going around it. The current market conditions are for most communications consultants a major challenge to say the least and many peers are left wondering what their options are in terms of connecting with others in networks where they can learn, find partners to collaborate on joint projects or even receive referrals.
In the United States, senior consultants looking to connect with others will all have heard from PRSA and IABC. Both are legacy membership associations that have no small amount of value to offer in terms of content, networking and learning opportunities.
Next to that there are a multitude of local, sector, women’s and other grassroots networks with many that have sprung out just in the last few months. It is true that it has never been as easy as today to bring people together virtually and – we all hope – in person soon again too.
One ad-hoc network of consultants I was invited to join myself is led by Molly McPherson who assembled a taskforce of professionals to take on COVID-19 related crisis communications management. We communicate with one another over Slack, Zoom and have plans to meet up in person later this year.
Joining a group of senior professionals has never been easier and nor has starting one. Here is another example: Julia Angelen Joy runs a community on Twitter where she regularly invites an expert to be the central guest at a Twitter chat. Reports on the chats are published on her website and she also has a LinkedIn group where people can participate in the conversation.
So I recommend that communication professionals go shopping and mix it up. Be a member of your local PRSA chapter and fine niche networks of other independent consultants to provide value to and receive value from. And when you can not find that one network that you need, or when you for any reason nobody opened when you came knocking at their door, then roll up your sleeves and build your own network of peers.Finally, with participating at and even hosting a peer network easier and less formal than ever before we should never forget that our relationships in those networks are still of a professional nature and that the commitments we make in a Facebook group or on a Slack channel are as real as they are anywhere else. Where proper business rules of conduct are not yet defined, they should be introduced and adhered to by all.
About the Author: This post is written by Jo Detavernier, SCMP, APR, an Austin, TX based communications consultant. Visit his website for more content on corporate communications, public relations and content marketing.