Are You Ready to Step Up?

I’ve facilitated an HR roundtable in Cincinnati for 20-plus years. I first learned about the group when a flier—yes, an actual paper flier—arrived in the mail at my company. Back then, I was an HR department of one and was only aware of a small number of resources. So I decided to see what the group was all about.

The roundtable was a welcome forum where I could talk with other HR professionals about the challenges of working in human resources. I attended for a few months before the facilitator asked if I would like to step in and take her place. I eagerly took this opportunity and worked on making the roundtable grow.

What I didn’t know when I joined was that the roundtable was affiliated with a local SHRM chapter. I knew of the chapter, but what I had heard about it wasn’t all that positive. Now, mind you, I never went to a meeting to see if the negative feedback was true or not. I just joined in tearing down the group because it seemed to be how most who attended the roundtable felt.

But one day at a roundtable meeting, a member of the local chapter pinned me against a wall and said, “If I hear you say one more negative thing about the HR chapter, I’m going to do something about it. If you want things to change, step up and get involved yourself!”

I was stunned by the bravado of the chapter member. I also felt the need to accept her challenge, and I got involved. In fact, I ran for the open office of chapter vice president. It made more sense to me to get fully immersed, rather than subtly work from the sidelines.

What I found was that the rumors were wrong. The chapter was a great environment in which to meet and network with other HR professionals. I made more meaningful friendships and professional relationships than I had in the first 14 years of my HR career. I joined SHRM as a national member and have been active in the organization since 2000.

So for me, what started out as a gauntlet being thrown down by a very proud local chapter member has turned out to be a journey of ever-opening doors. I have been fortunate to take on leadership roles with SHRM at the local, regional and national levels, including serving on the SHRM Board of Directors. I’m now a very active member of the SHRM Executive Network and have spoken at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo several times.

As SHRM celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, I’m nearing almost 25 years of involvement myself. The association has evolved during this time, and I’ve seen it change just as my career has. It continues to be a great place to find resources, share your voice and, most importantly, connect with your peers.

You see, the heart of SHRM is reflective of my experience in the local chapter: The best part is the people you meet. The countless connections I’ve made over 22 years have been so valuable. Because I stepped up and got involved, I’ve connected with peers at all levels of the profession, across the country and around the world. There’s not a day that goes by where I’m not in touch with a SHRM member.

As SHRM celebrates this milestone anniversary, let me encourage you to step up as well and make the most of your membership. Connect with local members and see where that takes you. You never know what good things might happen!


Illustration by Phil Marden

The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

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