Friday, November 18, 2011

Take Advantage of Association Membership Benefits

So, you have taken the first step by joining a professional association serving your industry or profession. Like many others, you may think you don’t have time to add one more thing to your schedule—like attending association meetings, volunteering on committees, or participating in networking events. But, have you fully considered the advantages that accompany these activities? In fact, now might be the perfect time to tap into all your membership has to offer.

Expand Your Network to Include Key Industry Professionals

Participating in your professional association can grow your network and put you in contact with key industry professionals–leaders you might not have access to otherwise. Making this happen typically requires some effort on your part. For example, you may have an opportunity to introduce yourself to an industry keynote speaker at an association event, breaking the ice with a positive comment about the speech. Another idea: volunteer on a committee that interests you and establish relationships with committee members. This is a great way to learn, firsthand, who wields industry influence.

Many industry associations have formal mentor programs, but if they don’t, why not start one? Mentor programs are a great way to learn and develop relationships that can produce invaluable professional contacts. Later, these contacts can lead to job opportunities in both the open market and the “hidden job market.” Many professional associations also have members-only job boards for posting resumes and searching for jobs.

Access to Rich Industry Information

Professional and industry associations can be great sources for industry news, trends, and events. Associations typically share information with members through association websites, newsletters or magazines, and directories. Check out their websites for articles, case studies, podcasts, discussion boards, members’ business contact information, and information about upcoming conferences or workshops.

Power in Numbers

Association members share many common professional interests. When it comes to industry interests that are bigger in scope, such as legislation, accreditation, or industry standards, it can be very beneficial to be part of a larger industry association. It’s one way to ensure your opinions will be heard and to effect actions that may result in industry-wide change.

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