Have you ever found yourself wondering why APPA wants you, and not the generic “you” as in an organization, but you in particular? I have.
I have often wondered, “What do I have to offer this group? Why do they want me on that team? Do I really have anything to teach the people who will attend this conference?” Over the years I have come to find that everyone, even me, has something unique and valuable to add—to APPA specifically—and the facilities management profession as a whole.
When I began attending the Georgia State APPA conference in my late twenties, I was amazed that anyone wanted my business card or wanted to speak to me. One business partner told me, “If you’re attending this conference, you will be in a position to need my services one day. If I have a relationship with you now, I’ll be able to help you when that time comes.” He was correct, and we have done business several times.
The first time my boss told me to present at a conference, she had to pick a topic for me. It took me a few tries to get accepted, but I eventually presented. I thought I would just be rehashing information attendees already knew, and I honestly expected someone to tell me I messed it up. But after the session, a couple of people approached me with questions, and one even paid a compliment. No one was as surprised as I was when the surveys came back with positive feedback!
The next step in my journey with APPA was being invited to serve on an APPA Regional Board. I told my wife that I was invited because a longtime colleague was on that board and pushed for me to be there. Little did I realize that they actually had a job for me to do, not because my friend was on the board!
Next, I was asked to chair a special interest group for APPA. For the last three years I’ve chaired the Community College Engagement Group, which means I get to speak to facilities people from community colleges all over North America each month. Honestly, I learn more from them than they will ever learn from me. However, the fact is that these people wouldn’t get the chance to network and learn from each other on a regular basis if I weren’t there handling the administrative details. Sometimes it’s as simple as creating a meeting agenda, coordinating with special topic presenters, and sending out an email reminder.
A Willingness to Serve
I am currently on two APPA Boards and a couple of special project groups, and the chair of the Community College Engagement Group. This has taught me that everyone has something to contribute.
As I write my final Membership Matters column before my term as chair expires, I am taking this opportunity to issue a call to action to you. Be willing to serve! You only have to be willing to find a place to serve in this organization. If you are, find a board member and let them know. I promise they need you and will find a place for you. They did it for me!
I hope to see all of you at a conference soon—and to compete with you for the opportunity to present!
David Van Hook is director of facilities at Georgia Highlands College, Rome, GA, and can be reached at [email protected].