Membership has its rewards.
“Man is a tool-using animal…Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all” ~ Thomas Carlyle
We spend a lot of time being members of groups whether we define ourselves that way or not. As children, we joined play teams, in high schools we were in sports or academic teams; in college we added Greek Life or clubs and as adults we are members of churches, community groups, alumni and civic associations. Memberships work because we are social creatures and as the quote suggests, memberships are tools that we routinely use in our lives – to belong, to nurture, to support and to feel we are part of something.
In your professional life, it is always a good idea to consider your membership presence in professional associations. Are you currently an active member of any professional association or group? Notice the emphasis on the word active. Many of us even pay dues to belong to associations, but really do not take the time to even read the monthly magazines or any subscriptions we receive. If you are a student, the same principle applies to campus clubs or chapters of professional associations. Are you there, but not really using it as the tool to build leadership or administrative skills as you should?
Why join a professional association?
Aside from the obvious networking possibilities with people in the same profession, which could lead to great opportunities, there are other benefits:
- Building new skills through on line or in person workshops or webinars.
- Helping to shape the future direction of your occupation.
- Developing leadership skills through committee involvement.
- Staying ahead of trends in your occupation or industry.
- Inside information on jobs and internships.
If you are a seasoned professional exploring career changes, or a student expanding your career and industry awareness, joining a professional association should be a no-brainer. Students should know there are usually significant discounts for membership.
Wikipedia has a great list of professional associations with links to each. Find a few that you can further explore and possibly join so that you can maybe attend a national conference next year.