Belonging to professional associations can be a major asset for career development, personal growth, and networking. Check out what they can do for you at every stage of your career path.
Professional Association Tips for Students and Entry Level Professionals
Find financial aid support. Most professional associations provide scholarships and grants, either directly or through educational foundations. Even better, there may be relatively little competition for these funds because most people are unaware that they even exist.
Pay reduced dues. Undergrads or recent grads can usually pay lower dues in their first years because associations are eager to attract promising new talent. Check the website or call the membership office to find what payment range you qualify for.
Work with a mentor. It can be difficult to find a pool of mentors in your current circle. Mingling at association events can widen your opportunities and introduce you to influential potential mentors in your field.
Research an industry. You can explore an association even while you’re still deciding on your major. Sitting in on a few roundtable luncheons is certainly more cost effective than changing directions during your senior year of college.
Professional Association Tips for Experienced Professionals
Apply for senior positions. Executives and recruiters use associations to help with recruitment. Apply for jobs or post your resume to increase visibility.
Recruit new employees. Similarly, associations can be a good source for filling positions in your department. Through your membership in a professional organization, you can interact with candidates in a setting that’s more natural than a job interview.
Nurture your specialty. Later in your career, you may want to focus on organizations that match your area of specialty.
Negotiate dues with your employer. Annual dues and expenses add up the further along you get in your career path. Your employer may agree to cover the costs if you convince them of the value and how it relates to your job. Be prepared with examples about how you’ve been able to use your membership to save your company money, bring fresh ideas, expand their customer base.
Professional Association Tips for Any Stage of Your Career
Extend your network. For most people, developing positive relationships with colleagues is the greatest benefit of association memberships. Be generous about sharing information and services. People will do the same with you!
Enjoy discounts. Your membership may entitle you and your employer to significant savings and discounts with other programs and services. Check the association website for more info.
Earn continuing education credit. This is probably my favorite perk of participating in associations! I’ve learned about industry specific marketing techniques, technology trends, and training that I could take back to work. You may want to take a workshop on the latest accounting software or meet the speakers at a national conference. Check your association calendar for events that will add to your knowledge and skills.
Volunteer your services. There are many different ways to volunteer at associations. You could help write press releases or join the welcoming committee for new members.
Participate in philanthropy. Your association can also provide you with opportunities to combine professional and philanthropic activities. Lend your time to food drives or spend a weekend building housing with other volunteers.
Professional associations offer many valuable opportunities whether you’re just beginning or you’ve been working in your field for a while. So get out there and immerse yourself in your field. Being intentional about your career growth in this way will definitely help you stand out!