If you are interested in furthering your career, joining a professional association is a good start. There are associations for nearly every profession or area of interest and many have national, state and regional chapters available to join. An association is a synergistic group, meaning that the effect of a collection of people is greater than just one person. So, how exactly can becoming part of this synergistic group help further your career goals? Here are some benefits of joining an association.
Enhance your network:
For most people, creating professional relationships is important, and joining a group allows you to have a sense of security and trust. From this, you are able to support and help one another in reaching your professional goals. Associations sponsor numerous events throughout the year that allow you to connect with your peers. You can share ideas, ask for advice, volunteer to be a speaker or become a member of a committee. Since most associations have national or local conferences, you can participate and have the opportunity to learn about breaking news in your career, learn "best practices" or new ideas, hear about key achievers in your field and also meet and brainstorm with others who are also looking to share and learn new information. Another benefit of enhancing your network is that you may find a mentor to help you with your professional needs or you may be in a position to become a mentor to someone else. Giving back can be the greatest reward and benefit. Participating in forums, chat groups or discussion boards sponsored by the association is also a great way to grow your network. This allows you to use your peers as sounding boards and often make some great friends with the same interests as you.
Take charge of your career:
Another important reason to consider membership to a professional organization is to take advantage of their career resources. Associations often have job listings online or in print available only to their members. This is a great way to find targeted job postings for your area of interest. Additionally, many associations have career resources available such as tips on effective resumes or cover letters, job searching strategies and negotiating techniques. Some associations even have panels of experts that you can contact for specific questions on career issues. Other benefits include information about seminars, training or certification classes that may be suitable for you. Often these classes can be done through web- or podcasts so you don't even have to leave your home. And don't forget, listing your association membership on your resume is impressive to current or future employers as it shows that you are dedicated to staying connected in your profession.
Broaden your knowledge:
Most associations provide an enormous amount of access to resource information such as: case studies, articles, white papers and books written by experts in your field or area of interest. Also, major journal, magazine and newsletter access is provided as a part of your membership privileges. Another reason to join an association is to learn more or stay informed about issues in diversity. For example, Academic360.com includes a list of associations and articles that provide valuable information such as: resource guides for diversity, affirmative action and advocacy, as well as information on new and proposed regulations related to diversity.1 Additionally, associations provide a source for scholarship information, links to publications, and awards for persons achieving excellence in their field. No matter what your field is, staying on top of all of these issues is important.
So, whether you are looking to learn about job postings in your field, network in your professional community, gain access to current events in your career area, or just have some fun while meeting new people, joining a professional association is a step in the right direction!
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Why Join a Professional Association?
by Kelly A. Cherwin, Communications Editor, HigherEdJobs
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