Monday, September 26, 2011
Whether you're an accountant, plastics engineer, or freelance writer, there's sure to be a professional association or trade organization for your industry. Joining associations and trade organizations is one of the most overlooked forms of career development. With all of the responsibilities you juggle on a daily basis, the thought of attending association meetings and schmoozing with other professionals might seem overwhelming. But joining trade organizations can be highly beneficial for your career because it allows you to stay on top of what's going on in your industry and network with like-minded professionals.
The biggest benefit of joining professional organizations and trade associations is the networking opportunities it provides. You'll make new contacts and expand your professional network if you attend meetings and events on a regular basis. Membership in a professional organization or trade association can also be a great source of job leads, employment information, and long-term career development assistance.
When you get together with other professionals in your field, you'll have opportunities to exchange ideas and opinions while learning from diverse points of view. You'll also be able to enhance your job skills through seminars, workshops, conferences, and courses. In addition, you'll stay abreast of trends in your field by listening to industry leaders discuss current topics and accessing industry-specific insider information that's not available elsewhere, such as statistics and surveys.
As a member of a professional organization or trade association, you may receive a free subscription to their newsletter or magazine and get discounts on journals, DVDs, CDs, and other materials. Many websites of professional organizations also have "members only" sections that give you access to exclusive content, forums, and databases.
By joining professional organizations or trade associations, you can meet more experienced professionals and potentially find someone who'll mentor you. A mentor can show you the ropes in your field, give you valuable advice, and help you out when you're facing a challenging situation.
Opportunities to Take on Leadership Roles
Another benefit of joining professional organizations and trade associations is that it gives you opportunities to take on leadership roles and gain valuable leadership experience that boosts your credibility and looks great on your resume. In a leadership position, you may publish newsletter or trade publication articles, make presentations in the community, or serve on panel discussions.
When you consider the connections you'll make, the abundance of resources you'll have access to, and the things you'll learn, becoming an active member of a professional organization is well worth the effort. If you don't join professional organizations, the size of your network of contacts will be limited. And with new contacts come more opportunities for growth, both in your career and on a personal level. But paying your annual membership fees isn't enough to reap the benefits of joining a professional organization. You have to make an effort to get actively involved with the organization in order to get the most out of your membership.
Visit our extensive listing of professional organizations. Professional Organizations