Joining a professional organization can seem a bit daunting, especially with a busy schedule, and not knowing where to begin or which organization to join. Let us help you get started! First of all there are many great resources and perks that come with membership in a professional organization. Here are a few:
- They are a great way for you to keep up with trends and new information in your industry.
- They provide a great opportunity to get support and give support to your peers who work in the same industry and are interested in similar topics (i.e. “network”).
- They are an excellent avenue for building your skills for a minimal cost.
Now that you are motivated by the benefits of joining a professional organization, let’s go over how to choose an organization and get the most out of it.
Research and Qualify
To get started, take some time to research what professional organizations exist in your area. A simple google search can often times do the trick. Many times a group will have a national presence and offer meetings in many locations.
Here are some success indicators you may consider before joining. The organization has a set structure with regular meeting times and relevant information about the profession. The organization has a nice website with easily accessible information. The meeting times work with your schedule. Now, with that being said, some underdeveloped areas in professional organizations may be great opportunities to develop new skills. However, if you are looking primarily to network and trade tips, these success indicators give you a rough idea on what to look for when choosing an org.
Side Note: If it already sounds like too much, consider a Career Coaching appointment. We can help research organizations and create a strategic plan that aligns with your future career goals.
Choose a Membership and Set Goals
If you are new to a professional organization, you will likely join as a member and attend the regularly scheduled events (usually on a monthly basis, depending on your group). It is a great idea to set a goal to help keep you motivated to continue attending and realize the fruit of your efforts. For example, a goal may be to meet 2 new people at each meeting or come to the meeting with 2 questions you hope will be answered.
Typical memberships will also have minimal fees associated with the level of involvement. Be sure to research and come prepared with a check or cash.
Getting More from Your Org
Making the most out of your professional organization means being involved in a specific position within the organization. Here are some ideas on finding the right position for you:
- What skills would you like to develop that are not available at your current job? Find out if you are able to build on that skill through an open officer position.
- Get more information on the structure of the organization and available openings, mainly through people who are in those positions. For example, president, treasurer, etc.
- Find out how you can move into one of those positions and what the requirements are.
In general, professional organizations should be a part of your career development plan. If you are already part of a professional organization, determine in what ways you can make the most out of being a part of it from the following perspectives: skills development, social opportunities, network building, and staying current on the latest industry information. The beauty of using professional organizations to help your personal or work performance plan, is that the organization also benefits from your efforts.