One of my favorite things about ICHRIE membership is forming relationships at conferences that evolve into lasting collegial friendships. Sometimes this manifests in an e-mail that you receive months after the gathering to discuss a research project, perhaps one that was mentioned following a presentation. Or it might be a phone call seeking guidance. And sometimes it’s an old friend who just wants to say hi—and may not even recall that your first chat was at an ICHRIE meeting decades earlier.
Central to these relationships is the notion of trust. Think about it: a colleague calls to ask you to be an external reviewer for her impending tenure and promotion. This person trusts you to be honest, fair, and supportive. The role of trust is underscored even more when someone calls asking you to provide a reference for a colleague—and the subject of the reference didn’t ask you first because he didn’t need to!
Extending this even farther, I posit that trust in a relationship is a type of social capital. And acquiring this social capital reduces differences based on background and experience resulting in communication that can cross all sorts of boundaries. Finally, social capital can give you amazing satisfaction whether at work or in your family life.
As I continue to advocate the benefits of ICHRIE membership, then, I find myself speaking less frequently about the cutting-edge research, the incredible intellectual exchange, or professional development that is central to ICHRIE. Instead, I describe the added benefits, which are largely related to the relationships that form between members. Who knew that an international, non-profit organization could best be described as a way to build social capital?