For the Greater Good: Giving Back By: Mark Roberts | December 19, 2014 As we come to the end of 2014, it seems like a great opportunity to pause and reflect on our collective efforts and accomplishments in supporting and promoting the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry. Every day, I’m honored to interact with an incredible group of professionals—both the individuals affiliated with our member companies as well as the association team members—who demonstrate a remarkable dedication to their mission, ascribe to the highest standards of integrity and are committed to the pursuit of excellence. From our inaugural Excellence Award winners, our 2014 Account Executive and recruiter certification program graduates, to other members who have distinguished themselves in a myriad of ways, I am extremely proud of the level of achievement demonstrated throughout the association membership. Make a Difference in the Year Ahead As we approach the New Year, I’d like to ask each of you to consider becoming more active and engaged with us and your industry in 2015. Joining the Association is just the first step. While we are certainly grateful for all of our members regardless of their level of participation, the fact is that it takes more than just signing up to make real progress towards fulfilling our dual mission: “to enhance the members' businesses and advance the IT and engineering staffing and solutions industry.” Although the majority of the research, programming, advocacy, and outreach emanates from headquarters, we rely on an active membership to reach ever greater heights. A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats Contributing to the greater industry good pays individual dividends. So what are some things you can do in 2015 to give back to our industry? Here are just a few ideas: 1. Shape Public Policy By Attending Lobby Day Our annual Legislative Conference (Lobby Day) is TechServe Alliance's premier public policy event. While in Washington, D.C., owners and executives receive a comprehensive briefing on industry issues and the legislative process. The TechServe team arranges in-person meetings with elected officials and their staff. First-time attendees almost universally come away exhilarated---having exercised one of the fundamental rights of being an American---to petition their elected officials. Stay tuned for the dates of this Spring 2015 event---we look forward to having you join us. 2. Get in Front of Elected Officials Locally Even if you can’t make it to Washington next year, please consider meeting with your elected official in your home district or state. We are happy to help prepare you for a visit with a variety of resources including position papers and talking points. As I mentioned in my last blog, legislative outreach is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Constant relationship-building is a time-consuming but essential undertaking. You need to build relationships with your elected officials before you need to call upon them to help. 3. Think Globally, Act Locally Don’t assume someone else is going to keep your industry network active. To make sure your local TechServe chapter and the national organization are delivering ROI that you expect, make suggestions and consider taking the lead on arranging a speaker you think other owners and executives would find valuable. Please also consider volunteering for a leadership position; it’s a great way to build visibility within your market. Additionally, invite a peer or colleague to join you for every chapter meeting. Just like in the staffing world, referrals are our best source for members. In the coming year, we will be creating a number of Board Advisory Taskforces to advise the board on the most pertinent issues facing our industry and our member companies today. These taskforces will provide an invaluable mechanism to express your priorities and make your voice heard. We’re excited to share more information about this soon. 4. Do Well by Doing Good The current talent shortage in IT and engineering has been well documented, and it is reflected in the growing inequality between supply and demand of skilled professionals. Our member companies have taken up the challenge in a number of ways. Some have established programs to train returning veterans in IT skills---both giving back to those of who have done so much for our country and developing the IT and engineering talent that our firms, their clients and our country so desperately need. Others have partnered with charitable organizations such as YearUp, Girls Who Code, i.c.stars and Code.org that have developed programs to train the programmers, engineers and technologists of tomorrow. In the short-term, you’re giving people the opportunity to build critical and marketable STEM skills. In the long-term, you’re developing domestic sources of skilled professionals to grow the talent pool. If not you, then who? Make it your new year’s resolution to step up and get more involved. The future of the Association and Industry depends on an active and engaged membership. While we recognize the pressures of running a business, the question remains, “If not you, then who?” Please take a moment to comment or drop me a line about how you’re planning to give back in 2015. I’d love to hear your tangible ideas on how to address our industry’s challenges or how to avail ourselves of the opportunities that lay ahead. Lastly, happy holidays to you and yours, and best wishes for a productive and prosperous New Year.