So you landed the big job. You’re officially a “professional.” So, what now? It isn’t time to put your feet up and bask in your accomplishment! Your career development doesn’t just happen overnight, and promotions and raises are earned, not gifted. But, how do you develop yourself? How do you make yourself a valuable commodity not an expendable? Hit the ground running in your career by joining a professional organization. According to the Center for Association Leadership, there are more than 1.9 million organizations currently in the U.S. which means there are plenty to choose from.
Finding the organization that is right for you and your field is important. You may have to do a little research or it may be as simple as asking your coworkers or colleagues what they are a part of. Once you find the organization that covers your field, you may have to pay for a membership, but many employers are willing to pay these dues for you. If they don’t, it’s okay. Just look at the money you spend on dues as an investment – maybe one of the most important investments you will ever make. Now that you’re in and have become part of something larger than yourself, I bet your next question is, “what is this going to get me?” Below are three ways professional organizations can help you grow your career.
Network, Network, Network
Networking can give numerous opportunities to further your career. Rubbing elbows with your peers opens up a forum for idea exchange. This open line of communication can drum up new business, new friendships, great concepts, and maybe even future career opportunities.
Many organizations have one or more conventions every year. At these conventions, there are breakout sessions, keynote speakers, and round tables where you can learn and collaborate with your peers in your industry. These opportunities allow you to grow as a professional as well as stay on the cutting edge of your field, while establishing dialogue with individuals in your field.
Developing the Leader in You
Organizations generally have boards or committees that are in charge of club operations. Becoming a member of the board is often as easy as asking current leaders about opportunities to join the board or committee in charge. Becoming a part of the leadership in an organization can develop important attributes found in great leaders that can help advance your career. Not to mention, your peers will have a front row seat to the display of your leadership skills. The amount of involvement is completely up to you. Since it’s typically a volunteer position with a “term system” similar to our own government, you decide how involved you get. If you’re interested in taking on a more time intensive positions make sure you discuss this interest with your manager, as the more involved you are, the more time intensive the position can be.
These are just a few benefits to being a member of an organization geared toward your industry. If you have another way that your experience in a professional organization has helped you, please share in the comments section below.