Networking has become a very important skill in our work as communicators. For many year, I have been personally involved with many organisations and networks, one of them has been the focus of a great deal of work. It is IABC, the International Association of Business Communicators, of which I am now Chair for the Europe and Middle East region.

The network has been very useful in helping me meet interesting people, introduce clients to peers and learn new skills. In fact, it was through IABC that I met several authors who helped me get my publishing contract with Gower for my book. Coincidentally, (hrmm) “Hyperthinking” will hit the shelves of every good bookstore near you by the end of the month. 😉

IABC also put me in contact with several clients. However, its most important benefit is that it has served as an open communication channel for a variety of people who bring new ideas and perspectives to the table. It has also helped me engage with many EU officials in an open and informal way.

The organisation is a volunteer one so it relies on the goodwill and enthusiasm of members to get things done. In exchange, members have access to a wide network of professionals. Less obviously, members also gain access to a great learning environment where they discover the daily workings of large company structures and associations (which often run a bit like NGOs).

Next week the organisation’s leadership will meet in Paris for what is called the EMELIEuropean and Middle East Leadership Institute. This meeting is both a get together of IABC’s leaders and a learning opportunity. The theme this year is disruption – a theme I am very familiar with. At work, it is a by-product all the new communication technologies we encounter and use; but it also occurs in everyday life as it permeates everything we do. As an organisation IABC will explore ‘How we can Excel in Disruptive Times’ .

Joining this kind of network is often a long term engagement and, in a sense, you get out as much as you put in. The learning, networking and the understanding you gain from being involved in such an organisation is great if you want to keep your mind open to new ideas and meet new people that care about improving the communication profession’s standards.

To experience the network, join the Belgium IABC network at iabc.be (we helped create it). Also, visit the IABC EMEA blog for more information on what’s coming up: http://europe.iabc.com/