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Section Leader Highlight: Evan Zabawski

November 01, 2012

Section News

Section Leader Highlight: Evan Zabawski on The Value of Networking

How did you first get involved with the section?  I was taken to my first meeting by my boss, who was one of the directors.  Since I was present for so many of these meetings over the course of the year, it just seemed natural to become officially involved the following year.

What was your progression like from your first involvement up to Chair (and now Past Chair)?  I started helping organize the yearly education seminar for a few seasons, then I become Vice-Chair for one season before becoming Chair.

What do you think is most valuable about belonging to a section?  The networking.

Why is that? I think that networking is very valuable in today's world, from finding a new career to establishing new business relationships.  We are very social creatures and always feel better dealing with someone we know directly or through another colleague.

What impact has it had on your career? I can fully credit networking at a local section meeting for my progression into a rewarding career.  I met my future boss as a part of the local section executive, and established a rapport that opened a door for me. 

What impact has it had on your path within STLE?  I am positive my role as Editor of TLT would not have been offered to me had I not networked with other members of the editorial staff, including the outgoing Editor Dr. Maureen Hunter.  I usually find the STLE AM the most rewarding work-related activity all year because I look forward to connecting with so many colleagues.

How would you quantify this benefit for those who haven't been to a meeting?  That's a hard question.  Sometimes a new member arrives at a meeting and they only meet their competitor's customers and they see great value. Other times they only meet their own customers and it is certainly less rewarding on the surface.  Once they see the value in being a speaker and being able to have everyone's attention for 30-45 minutes, they start to appreciate the audience even more.  As they attend other presentations and expand their knowledge, the value becomes much higher.

How do you encourage networking at your section? We introduce new members to as many other attendees as possible. We work to emphasize new relationships based on matched interests, but do not limit interactions based on these interests.

How do you encourage someone to get involved with their local section (either as a member or volunteer)? I invite them to a monthly meeting with a very applicable topic, so they can see the educational value, and I introduce them to as many folks as I can to show them the networking value.

What are some of your best practices or tips for sections...

  • To increase membership: We make the price of the education seminar for non-members include the cost of membership and submit an application on their behalf, so we get new members every year.
  • To draw attendance at individual meetings: We work to find relevant topics and work in tours if possible.
    • How do tours impact your attendance? We can often double typical attendance. 
    • What are some examples you've had in the past year or two? We've toured an engine re-manufacturer, a newly opened aeronautical mechanic training facility, and a commuter train repair shop. 
    • What is the format of your plant tours?  We typically do a talk after the tour, and not always by the individual or company hosting the tour.  We try to include refreshments, usually the tour provider sponsors that part.
  • To reward/acknowledge volunteers: We introduce them to the audience at each meeting.
  • To find the right technical topics for your section: We assign it to a committee.
  • To partner with other societies: We work with members who belong to more than one society, then we share mailing lists for certain events, or even hold joint events.
    • What kind of joint events have you hosted before, and how have they been received? We have not hosted one as of yet, but we joined a local area joint society of 9 other professional societies and attend one massive joint meeting each year. 
    • What kinds of topics hit home for members of different societies?  Due to the eclectic mix of societies, the topics are widely varied and not always able to be pertinent to all societies, let alone members.  The attendance at these events is often quadruple one of our meeting, but bear in mind there are attendees from 10 societies making up that number, so truthfully fewer of our own members go to this than a regular monthly meeting.

Favorite resource that helps you as a section leader/volunteer: the guidance of the past chairs.

You can contact Evan Zabawski via the membership database. For more information, or to suggest an interviewee, contact Kara Sniegowski at klemar@stle.org or at (847) 825-5536.

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