How to get the most out of your SHRM membership

For many human resources professionals, joining the Society for Human Resource Management is a rite of passage. Whether you’re a brand new HR grad or you’ve been around a while, you’ve undoubtedly discovered that SHRM is the biggest professional organization in the field. So big, in fact, it can seem overwhelming.

Between conferences, the magazine, the website, weekly email updates and local meetings, you may be getting so much information you aren’t sure where to start.

So how do you get the most out of your membership? Try these four suggestions.

Join your local SHRM chapter

“To make your SHRM membership worthwhile, you need to be engaged and visibly active. A great way to get connected is to join your local chapter and take on a volunteer role,” says Steve Browne, executive director of HR for LaRosa’s, Inc. Browne would know. He just finished his term as state director for Ohio SHRM and is now a representative to the SHRM Member Advisory Council.

A local membership can provide you with local networking opportunities and programs that focus on local human resource management issues, says SHRM Vice President of Membership Elissa O’Brien. This is key if your community has unique issues or if you ever find yourself looking for a new job.

Attend SHRM conferences

HR can be hard for outsiders to understand, says Sabrina Baker, owner of Acacia HR Solutions, an HR consulting and recruiting firm, who’s also volunteering as this year’s Illinois State Council of SHRM Annual Conference Chair.

“SHRM events and conferences put you in the middle of thousands of others who totally get you. Networking at the local, state and national level not only increases your overall body of knowledge (and helps with those HRCI credits), but creates relationships that will help you throughout the rest of your career.”

Take advantage of member resources

One of O’Brien’s favorite features is access to SHRM’s “HR Knowledge Advisors, who are available to answer specific HR questions via e-mail or phone. Whether a member needs clarification on new regulations or he or she has general questions on a human resource topic, a knowledge advisor is available to help.” She says many members tell her this service alone is worth the cost of their national membership.

Baker recommends the reference section of the SHRM website. “I use the website reference materials the most — whenever I’m not sure about law or need samples of policies, etc.”

Enroll in online educational opportunities

Don’t quite feel ready to be a local volunteer? Company won’t pay for you to go to Orlando for the SHRM 2014 Annual Conference & Exposition in June? Don’t fret. There’s plenty of information online to keep you in the loop on the latest happenings in the HR world.

SHRM offers free webcasts and online chats, covering a wide variety of HR topics. “Most SHRM webcasts also qualify for HR Certification Institute recertification credits,” says O’Brien. “If SHRM members seek more of a strategic focus, they have access to a number of original research reports, such our popular employee benefits survey and job satisfaction survey.”

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