Groucho Marx once famously quipped, "I'd never join a club that would allow a person like me to become a member." However, joining organizations in your chosen career with like-minded professionals is exactly what is needed to advance your career and jumpstart your job search. Professional associations provide invaluable networking opportunities and the chance to broaden your horizons. Although it costs money to join, usually an annual fee of about $100.00, it’s well worth it. Membership does indeed have its benefits. Not only do you receive a subscription to an informative professional journal, you gain access to an expert knowledge base, job listings available only to members and the opportunity to attend special events and conferences.
Much has been written about the importance of online networking. Marketing your brand using the social networking channels of LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook is essential to your career or job search to establish yourself as a thought leader and an expert in your field. But it’s equally as important to leave your comfort zone and network in the real world to participate in standard face-to-face interactions. A membership in a professional organization provides a slew of opportunities to meet up with your peers. Most organizations have local chapters that offer seminars and casual social gatherings for members. Oftentimes, local chapters also offer the chance to become known in the community, which helps build your brand, expand your business contacts and enhances your job prospects.
Conferences, Seminars and Webinars
Make the most of your professional memberships. Most organizations keep an extensive knowledge archive of white papers, webinars and surveys. This knowledge base would certainly give you an edge in preparing for an interview or a team strategy meeting. Consider volunteering to staff a conference or seminar. Up close and personal participation in your organization’s events can enhance your membership status and provide even greater networking opportunities. Additionally, attending the organization’s annual conference offers invaluable opportunities to make professional contacts throughout the country. You should also volunteer to write an article for the organization’s website or newsletter to further pump up your professional bona fides. And if you feel up to the challenge, offer to speak before the group on an industry topic or present a PowerPoint presentation highlighting emerging trends.
Membership-Only Job Listings
Joining a professional association can open up the hidden job market. Many prime employment opportunities are not advertised on standard job boards. Instead, hiring managers prefer to target a niche market to fill positions whenever possible. Most professional organizations post job openings from member companies in newsletters or listservs that are only available to members. Having access to exclusive job listings is definitely worth the price of membership. Moreover, becoming an active participant in your organization may provide leads to job prospects or career advancement opportunities. In this tough economy and highly competitive jobs market, you can’t afford not to join a professional organization. Are you up to the challenge?