Your Career Q&A: Put Your SHRM Chapter Membership to Work

By Martin Yate Sep 27, 2016

​In a time of uncertain budgets and job security, your SHRM chapter membership can help you find best practices to keep your employees engaged and motivated—and help you land your next job. Best-selling author Martin Yate, a career coach and former HR professional, takes your questions each week about how to further your career in HR. Contact him at the e-mail address at the end of this column. 

I work for a school district in Kansas, and with constant cuts, changes and uncertainty of budgets, we struggle to retain valuable employees. I'm always looking for ways to improve as a human resource professional and, with little to no money available, it makes it difficult to attend conferences or seminars.

What is the best option for us to keep current on constant changes in law, regulations and future issues on a low budget? How can we retain valuable employees when raises come on rare occasions and budgets are unknown?



Have you suggested that your local SHRM chapter host a presentation or discussion on maintaining a motivated team? It would be a topic relevant to all.

Importantly, as a SHRM member, you have already shown commitment to your profession. At the monthly meetings, you become part of the inner circle of HR professionals in your area, because here you will get to know and be known by the most committed and best-connected professionals in your area. In an era that lacks any real job security, especially as HR is a major target of the outsourcing companies, this connectivity is of inestimable value to your ongoing financial security.

The networking opportunities at SHRM chapter meetings are as valuable as the presentations; network with purpose, asking questions about changing laws and regulations and how your colleagues are anticipating or reacting. By nature, HR professionals tend to self-identify as a helping profession and never more so than with our colleagues. Everyone goes to these meetings for two major reasons:

  • To stay current (and, ideally, ahead of the curve) on issues.
  • To network and build relevant professional relationships.

Association meetings run on volunteer effort. Offer to help whenever you see an opportunity, no matter how menial the task, because the people setting up, handing out materials, checking people in and clearing up afterwards are local leaders in your profession. Your regular attendance and willingness to pitch in will gain you admittance to the sanctum sanctorum. These are the people who can be most helpful with advice for all your challenges.

As you receive help, return the goodwill in full. This is how mentor relationships are built, and building rapport with the right people can go a long way toward creating the professional support that your employer is unable to provide.

LinkedIn has a number of HR groups with membership made up of like-minded professionals. As a member you can "like" other people's helpful posts and subsequently make connections, further building your professional network. At the same time, you can write posts asking for advice about specific issues and gain valuable input as a result; be sure to thank anyone who responds to your posted questions and then connect with them.

SHRM Connect offers SHRM members a place to network and ask questions—anonymously, if they prefer, which you can't do on LinkedIn.

About employer-sponsored courses, accreditations and meetings: The best way to get company support is to show how the knowledge gained is of benefit to the organization (and not to the person).  SHRM offers online courses and an e-learning library with programming on HR competencies.

Your goal in all this, of course, is to develop the knowledge and skills that help you do your best for the organization. But it is just as important to develop the skills that will keep you marketable for strategic career moves as you build a professional network that will help both courses of action.

To locate a SHRM chapter near you and more information on how you can get involved at the local level, please visit

Have a question for Martin? E-mail your queries to We'll only publish your first name and city, unless you prefer to remain anonymous—just let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!


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