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Re: QUERY: What Are The Practical Benefits of Joining An "S.E.A.xx."?

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Perhaps the first thing I would note about your situation Bill is that you probably
have more company than you know. While being a single person firm is indeed
challenging, most of us with small firm stature started out the same way.

Practical benefits you say. Humm.... that will be up to your own determination of
course, but I'll give you the "benefits" I see in being associated with an SEA...
(actually, more than one).

I would suggest that much of the value is perhaps best viewed as indirect time. You
won't be able to charge anyone (except yourself) for it but it has value
nonetheless. Things like idle contact with fellow professionals may not seem like
benefits, but developing interpersonal skills is necessary if you happen to view
marketing by face-to face meetings important. It's relatively easy to "preach to the
choir" and while it may seem counterproductive to chat with your competitors, I'd
have to say that in my years of doing this I've not specifically noted this as a
problem. In fact quite the opposite may be true. They may be a needed second opinion
about working with other design professionals.

While I try to avoid raising political figures too high above my head, I think
George W's recent "citizens, not spectators" line is noteworthy. We ask ourselves
all the time, how did this code thingy get so complicated. Of course we'd love to
point at the SEA organizations and throw stones, but the facts are that we get
there, legitimately or not, by the work of a few and the silence of many. Membership
in an SEA offers direct involvement in the process, and as much as we'd like to
consider the tools of "virtual" involvement sufficient, at this point they're not.
The adage "whoever shows up" gets the attention is obvious in the code building
process.

Lastly, I view our professional associations as representative of our stature to the
"outside" world. We can avoid involvement and complain that it doesn't represent our
personal interests, or we can effect a change such that it is worthy of our time and
talents. The choice is always there to join or distance yourself. I'd suggest that
the "benefits" of joining outweigh the "benefits" of avoiding simply because the
world will go on whichever way you choose, and the future is best shaped by
involvement.

And that's the way I see it.

Barry H. Welliver
(SEAONC, SEAU)

Bill Polhemus wrote:

> I am in the process of applying for membership in the Structural Engineers
> Association of Texas (SEAoT). Mr. Caldwell has STRONGLY urged me to do so, but
> since he's an old fuddy-duddy, I'd like to solicit some comments and opinions
> about the practical usefulness of such associations for an ASPIRING old
> fuddy-duddy like me.
>
> First, I am not one employee among many of a firm. I'm a one-man outfit, likely
> to remain that way for the foreseeable future. There are lots of us here. So my
> biggest concern is getting the work out, as I have no one to whom I may
> delegate, nor anyone to whom I may pass the buck or point the finger.
>
> My second biggest concern is where my next meal, er, "job" is coming from. I am
> still somewhat in the marketing phase (being less than one year old and hardly
> of preeminent stature so as to be engaged immediately upon name recognition). It
> is more important for me to find people who want to engage me to do work for
> them, than to hob-nob with others like myself, who are doing that work INSTEAD
> of me.
>
> Those two concerns comprehend both a lack of time (and a need to use what time I
> have wisely, something that has been a challenge for me all my life), and a
> priority of focus. In addition, I have never been much of a "joiner", so that
> there is only a limited social value, in my own mind, attached to the company of
> my professional peers. What time I have left, when I'm not working, in other
> words, is typically spent in personal and family pursuits.
>
> So, I'm wondering if anyone out there can help me to see compelling reasons why
> joining an "S.E.A." is a "good thing", uniformly, even for iconoclasts like me.
> I would note that Dennis Wish is pretty close to the person "most like me" that
> I know of in this particular gathering of minds, and HE has been active in
> SEAInt for a number of years. That, and Stan Caldwell's continued urging, as I
> am inclined to consider anything that he would suggest, are the only reasons
> I've even bothered to download the application.
>
> Looking forward to sparking some discussion.