When a diverse group of SMACNA volunteer leaders recently gathered at SMACNA’s Association Leadership Meeting last month in Texas, one topic that attracted a lot of attention was “How do we identify, recruit, nurture, and increase engagement among more of our contractors in the industry, and get them to invest their time and energy in the association?”
This subject was top-of-mind among many of the 40-plus SMACNA chapter leaders and resulted in many of them asking questions and discussing various ways to identify and increase engagement with the next generation of volunteers.
What I noticed from volunteer leaders across the country was different chapters reporting different levels of engagement efforts and results. The common thread that seemed to run through many of the most engaged chapters was the frequency and quality of their education and training opportunities.
I also noticed that several chapters were not taking full advantage of the complimentary training offered by SMACNA national through Chapter Education Programs and other technical training sessions. There are more than 15 programs available on a wide range of topics from Advanced Sheet Metal Estimating to Transforming Your Organization for the Future. A useful tool on the website is information on where a course has been run most recently. This enables you to touch base with that chapter to see if a course is right for you.
As much as possible, custom-tailoring the training to meet your circumstances will be considered. This provides great value, enabling all members to take advantage of the wealth of knowledge instructors and other attendees have.
Bringing members together demonstrates commitment to one’s profession and career, but it is not the only solution to build engagement and develop future volunteer leaders in SMACNA. Moving from an individual contributor position to a leadership role requires members to have a vested interest above and beyond technical knowledge and skills in the industry.
I have received immense value from my volunteer experience with SMACNA. Over the past decade of being deeply involved with SMACNA, I have found a network of professional and personal friends that are like-minded in wanting the best for our industry and our companies. I have also found it very rewarding to give back to an association like SMACNA that sets a very high bar for excellence in terms of its devotion to the success of our industry. And lastly, seeing people in my own company experience professional and personal growth by attending SMACNA business classes or technical seminars.
I believe the secret to our success in the development of our next generation of leaders is our ability to provide value in our education and networking. Time is precious. Helping contractors understand the immense value that can be gained by offering their time is the challenge we face, but the challenge is one that SMACNA and chapter executives are actively pursuing, and I believe they are on the right track.