The value of networking
By Canadian SecurityFeatures Opinion
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of security organizations and associations around the world. I would suggest that, for the most part, each and every one of them is concerned with the same issues. These issues include meeting membership needs through formal certifications and education, networking, informal training, socializing with likeminded individuals, improving society and information sharing.
There are, generally, two ways these organizations exist. First, there are the ones that are stand-alone and provide a variety of services to their members. Some are local, some national, and some are global. The International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO) is an example of a global organization. The organization, whose head office is in Florida, has a web presence and provides certification programs such as the Certified Protection Officer and Certified Security Supervisor/Manager certificates.
It has a board of directors, an international advisory board and an executive director. It exists with a small number of employees and volunteers spread out around the world. Another example is the Security Professional’s Information Exchange (SPIE), a Calgary-based organization active in the IT security community. It has one chapter and no paid members (as far as I know). The Security Institute is another example. This is a U.K.-based organization, which has members around the world and its head office in London. They also rely on both paid and unpaid members for member services, projects, conferences and trade shows, training, mentoring and liaising with government.
The second kind of organization is one with a national or global presence with chapters across the country or around the world. ASIS International, High Technology Criminal Investigator’s Association (HTCIA), (ISC)2 and CANASA are all examples. They have a head office with chapters across the country (as CANASA does) or around the world (as do the others). They put out newsletters and magazines, hold national and international conferences, create and provide educational forums, develop and promote professional designations and certifications, develop standards and guidelines, have a strong online presence, provide networking opportunities, have job boards and liaise with various levels of government. Their membership numbers from the thousands to tens of thousands.
What is common to all these organizations is the belief held by their members that strength in numbers works towards a shared goal: to leverage everyone’s combined knowledge and efforts to enhance the level of security professionalism with the end result of making the world a safer place.
A growing trend we are experiencing is the growth of networking between security organizations. This should not be surprising, considering one of the linchpins of most, if not all, organizations is the establishment of networking opportunities for its members. People are seeing this on a much larger scale and recognizing the value.
The trend I am seeing and experiencing is that this is happening at both ends of the security organization spectrum. Local chapters and organizations are getting together, pooling their resources and hosting luncheons, afternoon seminars and multi-day conferences. National and international organizations are signing memorandums of understanding and agreement and holding joint conferences and workshops with tens of thousands in attendance, all with the intent of creating opportunities for members to network and learn from one another.
Networking allows the security professional to expand his/her circle of intelligence gathering. We have learned to stop seeing other organizations as neutral, irrelevant or the enemy. We’ve recognized that crime control is not a competition between businesses or between the private and public sector. It is ironic that criminal organizations recognized years ago the benefits of networking, information sharing and working together on “projects.”
Security organizations also recognize that it takes a lot of effort to host events, conduct training and develop guidelines and that, by partnering with others, their efforts can be magnified. One organization may not have enough money to hold an event, but two, three, four or more are able to share the risk and reward for doing so. This is a case of each organization putting their resources into the communal pot. Volunteer fatigue and reduced financial resources also play a part in the growth of organizational networking and the hosting of shared events.
It is a great thing that we have so many organizations recognizing the value and benefits of networking and information sharing, and I encourage all security professionals to get involved in providing their expertise, time, effort, knowledge, money or all the above to the various organizations holding joint events. In our fast-paced world, people think they don’t have time to get involved, but quite frankly, we cannot afford to not get involved on some level.
If you do recognize the benefits of networking, please keep at it. If you have not tried it, give it a chance.
Glen Kitteringham, M.Sc., CPP, F.SyI. is President of Kitteringham Security Group
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