You can tell a lot about someone by looking at who they hang with. The people and organizations you spend time with help form who you are and advertise to the world what you really think is important. I believe finding where you fit in is important. You may have heard people talk about networking: not a connection between machines, but a connection between people. Spending time with people that have similar interests and developing your common interests. Some of the benefits are obvious, like making valuable connections to folks that can help you. However, I believe part of the power of networking is that you find a group of people whom you enjoy being with. The truth is that most people are more inclined to put effort towards helping someone they know and like. Being with other people who share your interests makes all your activities more meaningful. Disneyworld is no fun by yourself; a big part of the magic in the magic kingdom comes from having fun with your family.
Joining an industry organization gives you immediate access to a group of people with similar interests. There are many groups organized around different aspects of the HVAC/R industry. There is a group for HVAC/R Technicians – RSES; a group for trades students – Skills USA; a group for Air Conditioning Contractors – ACCA; a group for HVAC/R Distributors – HARDI. If you teach HVAC/R you have some common interests with all of these groups. Every one supports HVAC/R education with resources and material. Trying to participate in all of these would probably not be possible for most of us, but joining and participating in one is doable for even the busiest folks. I suggest exploring what all of these groups have to offer, finding where you belong, and taking the plunge.
Each organization has an annual meeting where you can network with other HVAC/R folks, participate in training, see the latest in HVAC/R technology, and just have fun. If you have never been to a national HVAC/R convention, an opportunity coming up would be the National RSES Conference in Tucson, Arizona November 9 – 13.
Here is a partial list of HVAC/R organizations with links to their web sites where you can learn more about each one.
ACCA – Air Conditioning Contractors of America
ACTE – Association for Career and Technical Education
AHRI – Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute
HARDI – Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Distributors International
HRAI – Heating, Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning Institute
HVAC Excellence - Heating, Venitlating, and Air Conditioning Excellence
NAOHSM – National Association of Oil Heating Service Managers
PHCC – Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Council
RSES – Refrigeration Service Engineer’s Society