Your life is busy, your job is demanding, your free time is minimal. And then, someone suggests that it would be good for your career to join an industry association. Seriously?
So you look into joining an association that champions the concerns of your industry. What are the benefits?
- First, of course, there is networking. Unless you think that your job, one out of a million, is perfectly and totally secure, having friends, even among your competitors, is a good thing.
- Most associations offer educational programs to keep you up to date on what’s new in your industry. You know it’s a good idea to learn as much as you can about what’s happening currently. You have skills, of course, but are they up to date?
- Participate in a certification program if the association offers one. Not only will the classes leading to the certification make you savvy about solutions to a variety of challenges, but you will acquire new tools for streamlining your work, proving the value of your work, and building collaborative methods among your colleagues. The initials after your name, once you achieve certification, are often a positive negotiating tool for a salary bump.
- Become part of a mentor program. Many associations have them, and they are valuable for both the person asking for a mentor and the mentor. Navigating the professional seas is more daunting now than ever, and sharing your experiences and knowledge with someone who needs the help and advice you can give is both rewarding and educational. Mentors are usually surprised at how much they learn—about the pitfalls in starting out in a particular field, the technology involved, the expectations that are set, and the shifts in corporate culture.
- Explore potential partnerships. In the trade show industry, an exhibit house designer might be on an association committee with a person from a small digital agency. Could you partner on projects? Explore the possibilities. Because you are both involved in the same association, you have a sense of one another’s work styles and abilities.
- Many associations have job boards. If you are a casualty of downsizing or a merger, the job board is the place to start. Even if your next job is not offered there, you will gain experience in interviewing. Plus, most associations have resources to help you update your resume.
Our next post will talk about how to get involved in association activities. Meanwhile, start your research!
Experience the benefits of networking, learning, and leading. Industry associations help you do your job better and more efficiently–and they help you advance in your field.