Last year I participated in half an experiment, half an attempt to put myself out there. This experiment was to join the Atlanta SHRM chapter. I only made it to one (free) breakfast meeting and one (first one is free, afterwards member price is $35) evening meeting. I would say the experiment failed, since I only attended those two meetings.
It failed for two reasons: time and money.
I would say that the value of the information was worth the membership cost. They put together quality panel discussions or presenters that provided a mix of obvious with not so obvious information to learn from.
The rub is that, I’m already paying over $100 a year for membership, then to pay more for each meeting it gets expensive real fast. Even being an admitted frugalista, assuming I went to the five chapter meetings and six geographical meetings a year that would be $460 a year. That doesn’t count the extra gas.
Additionally, I’m a nonexempt, hourly employee. To attend a breakfast meeting I had to leave my house by 6am to get there for the panel and wouldn’t get into work until 11 – due to distance and traffic. My current schedule is 10am to 6:30pm. So for each of the six breakfast meetings a year, that is 1 hour of PTO I would need to use. If I attended the closest regional meeting that happens 6 times a year and previously was only at lunch time, I would need to leave my work at 11am and and wouldn’t get back until 3pm, requiring 4 hours of PTO. Then if I attend the 5 evening meetings a year, I would need to leave by 4pm and not get home until 8:30 or later; using 2.5 hours of PTO.
This adds up to 40 hours of PTO, assuming I was approved to take all of it. And that doesn’t include spending any time before or after the meeting for networking.
Let’s face it, in addition to the content and food, networking is the main reason to join and attend meetings. Oh, and recertification credits! (That I don’t need due to working on the CCP.)
Never mind that networking is hard for introverts (which I am) and there is nothing in the way of ice breakers to help with networking. Especially since I’ve experienced that many people don’t want to meet or chat with others – they are there for the food and recert credits only. So saying hi, introducing oneself, and stating company/job title isn’t always enough to network. Unless someone wants to work for or with your company, which going back to being a front line, hourly, nonexempt role you can’t help with, which then you get dropped like a hot potato. :
To be fair, I looked into the Foothills of GA local chapter, which at least is somewhat closer for their big meetings. The cost is the same, and while it would use less hours, it would still require over 20 hours of PTO and the costs are equivalent.
So to spent over $500 a year on meetings and gas, plus using about a week of PTO? Or more time if you network or volunteer? Yeah, that is asking a lot of a front line person.
My conclusion is that local SHRM membership and attendance is geared more for exempt (and thus high up the food chain) roles or those looking to buy recertification credits. Since I am neither at this time, so to I can’t/won’t be a member and attend. It’s a shame, because I really did enjoy the content of those meetings. 🙁