Professional development

Building Street Credentials Through Volunteering, Networking, and Certification

By Yasmine El Shafei, SCMP, MBA on June 17, 2024

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Transitioning to a new market with a senior background is similar to embarking on a journey into unexplored territory! While it presents pressing challenges, it’s also an opportunity to grow and embrace the magic of stepping out of the “comfort zone”! 

As a seasoned strategic communication professional moving with integrated PR and communications experience to a new market, I faced some challenges in building credibility in the market. My challenges were mainly related to validating my knowledge, understanding the market dynamics, and building my network in Canada. 

And here is my cheat sheet below to help communications peers navigate the Canadian market.  

The power of volunteering: Realizing progress through building meaningful connections and relationships!  

Volunteering emerged as my guiding compass in navigating the new market. It provided a platform to develop meaningful work and build authentic connections. After scanning the scene, I joined the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC)/Toronto. As the biggest chapter globally, IABC serves a diversified group of business communicators, senior independent communicators, and students from various backgrounds and knowledge. Actively engaging in volunteering helped me build meaningful connections with peers and gain new knowledge about market trends and dynamics. 

Value-based networking and shifting mindsets from creating more LinkedIn connections to creating shared values! 

Effective networking transcends the superficial exchange of business cards; it is about nurturing genuine relationships rooted in mutual respect and value sharing. By prioritizing the success of others over personal gain, I cultivated authentic connections that proved instrumental in my journey. The ethos of ‘Givers Gain’ played a vital role in fostering credibility and trust and opening the doors to more opportunities and growth.

Personal branding is no longer a luxury!

Your brand is your reputation, the image you want everyone to remember whenever they see you or hear your name. Building street credentials became my passport to acceptance and trust within the market. Networking, showing value-based volunteering when blended with past accomplishments and experiences, becomes a market entry visa and builds a reputable image. These credentials served as a testament to my capabilities, paving the way for seamless integration into the fabric of the new market. 

Certification for validation!

Developing a lifelong learning mindset is key to our evolution as communications experts.

I am a lifelong learner by nature. Stepping out into a new world and realizing there is potential in learning from experts and practitioners, I embarked on the SCMP certification journey. As a start, it was a step for me to validate my knowledge and test my experience and skills in the PR and communications field. Then, I realized it was a cornerstone in my transition. The Strategic Communications Management Professional Certification, opened up new horizons to explore real market case studies from best-in-class practitioners in diverse sectors and spectrums of work. Not only this, but it gave me the confidence to start my venture and build a new successful story within the market! 

This also helped me realize the need to give back to the community through mentoring newcomers within the marketing communications field and sharing knowledge and experiences, as well as the growth opportunities that lie out there! 

Inspired by Brené Brown’s wisdom on embracing vulnerability and courage, she said, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”

This quote perfectly resonates with stepping into the unknown, embracing challenges, and ultimately finding strength and growth in new experiences.

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