Want to climb the ladder in your industry?
Want to be a connected and knowledgeable employee?
Want to develop your professional network and enhance your career prospects?
Join an association as membership can provide a raft of opportunities to enhance and develop you and your career.
Associations come in all forms, shapes and sizes and they can contribute a huge amount to your employability and offer you opportunities you might not have had otherwise. Membership fees can normally be claimed on tax or by business you work for. Many companies will pay as they understand the opportunities membership provides.
Here are 5 reasons why joining your industry association will have a positive impact on your career:
Newsletters and Lists
Sign up for email newsletter alerts or follow your association on social media. This will give you a good feel of the association, it’s members and the opportunities it could provide to you, including job opportunities. There are a variety of associations, so even if your industry association is not very active or not the right place for you, consider joining other associations that might be a longer term fit for you or be a interest area.
Reading the news and articles presented by the association will give you insight into key issues and policy developments with the industry. The business you work for will appreciate your broader understanding of the industry and its challenges and knowing what is going on will influence your current and future work.
Most associations normally have job listings or boards which can offer you a wide variety of job opportunities to consider. These can provide opportunities in different locations and a variety of levels of roles. If the business is committed to posting via the association, then they will also be interested in the association’s work and employing someone who aligns with these values too.
Networking and Events
Attending association events are a great place to start. If you don’t know anyone at the association then the first event will be awkward. Step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to one person at your first event and tell them it’s your first event. If you are way too nervous to talk to people, ask one of the organisers who should have someone greeting everyone on the night, to introduce you around. Everyone has been new once and if you can come out of the event having meet one new person who might be at the next event then what a great start.
Keep going to the events – try out all the different types of events, from after work drinks, to conferences, lunch and learns, end of year party etc. Association events are great opportunities to learn more and meet various members. Over time you will get to know people and faces, and you won’t feel uncomfortable. It’s a great idea to connect on LinkedIn or via email anyone you spent time with talking to even just to exchange details. You might not need these contacts right now, but you never know where you or they might be in 10 years’ time. Associations are a great way to develop a professional network.
Most associations are known for their professional development offerings. Many associations might have certified program which could allow you to upskill or refresh your skills. They might also be aligned with a higher education program too which could provide an opportunity for further education if you were interested.
Associations will host webinars or lunch time events that focus on special interest topics or upcoming issues. They have access to special guests which can provide an opportunity to listen and experience speakers and ideas you might not have access to normally.
Associations put a lot of effort into providing professional development and for many professionals are the key place for industry specific continued leaning throughout their careers. Many people complete a degree in their early twenties however after 10 or 15 years in the industry things have changed and there are always new ideas and changes going on in every industry.
A great way to develop your skills is to volunteer as a committee or subcommittee member. You will learn so much about the industry, it’s people and how associations and committees run. Associations always need help so there are various opportunities depending on your time and personal interest.
Like all volunteering opportunities the more you put in, the more you will get out of the experience. The lessons you learn volunteering for a committee are great to discuss in interviews. It is also a great bonding experience volunteering with others – and there is a chance you will meet likeminded people in the process and maybe even some friends for life.
As an association committee member, you will also learn more about financial reporting, how groups can be run by committee and how Annual General Meetings (AGMs) work. These are great skills to develop as you will encounter a variety of organisations and associations throughout your professional and personal life.
Committee Leadership Role
Taking on a leadership role on an association committee is a big responsibility but also a fantastic opportunity. Most leadership roles come around once a year or every couple of years and are normally suggested for consideration by those who are already committee members.
Taking on a key committee role is a great opportunity to develop your leadership skills within diverse settings. You will be pushed outside your comfort zone to work on different projects and with a variety of people and groups. Most leadership roles have support and mentoring in place from the outgoing leadership team, so it is great opportunity to learn the role from others, which is sometimes not the experience you have when starting a new job. Ensure you have the time to give to a committee role before taking it on as you will want to give it your everything. There will be some great experiences from taking the role and some that will challenge you.
The years will disappear as a leader of an association or committee. There is a chance you will contribute several years of service as once you are into the routine and have a good team of members around you, it can all be fun. This consistency provides so much to you and the association. It also looks fabulous on your CV.
Joining an association is a great way to develop yourself. There are associations for most industries, roles and fields. Associations can provide a variety of opportunities to meet new people, upskill and personally develop. Why not consider what joining an industry association could do for you and your career?