Networking: How to Choose a Professional Association
Whatever the stage of your career, you may be finding new professional associations to join from time to time. Association memberships and conferences are a time and cost investment and should be chosen according to your professional goals. The most useful association is the one where you will be most engaged.
Let’s look at some of the initial questions to consider before choosing your memberships:
• Does the association run a reputable conference you would like to attend?
• Does it offer webinars, tele-networking events, or branch meetings often and on varied topics?
• Does the association charge extra for any type of activity or are some included in the price of your membership?
• Does it facilitate networking via social media groups, email listserv, and job board?
• Does it offer a strong knowledge base that is constantly updated and growing?
• Is the offered certification of value to you and recognized by your clients?
• Does the association offer up-to-date group insurance options or other benefits you would not get elsewhere?
• Does it promote its members via guest blogging, interview highlights, articles, and presentation opportunities?
• Is there an informative newsletter?
• Is the association more member-focused or industry-focused — or both (ideally)?
Once you join, ask yourself:
• Are the email listserv and forum discussions useful?
• Is the job board filled regularly and with quality postings?
• How many of the resources do you find genuinely useful/fresh or repetitive/recycled?
• How many leads and orders have you received through the organization?
• How’s the traffic to its online directory?
• Are the administrators responsive if you email them?
• Are you learning something of value every year of your membership?
To maximize the value you get:
• attend webinars and conferences
• volunteer on committees
• guest blog for the association
• build collaborative partnerships with other members
• review the association’s publications and/or contribute to them
• read all the materials and write down action items or new ideas to explore
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