If you’re a member of an industry that has at least one professional organization attached to it, you may be wondering if joining its ranks will help your business succeed, or if it is just a waste of time and money.
The Simple Answer - JOIN
There are many ways these organizations can directly support your business and help you hone important skills and develop your talents. There are few actions you can take that can have such a large impact on your professional life as quickly as this one.
Here’s how to get the most from joining a professional organization:
1. Attend Chapter Meetings to Gather Information
Not only will you have the chance to meet movers and shakers in your industry, but you’ll also learn quite a bit from featured presenters. It makes staying up-to-date and well-informed on industry happenings much easier.
2. Make Valuable Contacts
Find like-minded people who share your vision and mission while practicing your elevator speech and “schmoozing the room”. It’s a great way to get more experience talking to people while building your address book.
3. Be a Doorman (or Doorwoman...)
Station yourself near the door and try to greet as many people as possible when they walk in. If you’re new, introduce yourself as a guest or new member and ask for advice or introductions to those who “run the show”. When you’re established, welcome newbies and serve as a resource for them.
4. Join a Committee
Most professional organizations are run by volunteers, who are usually critically short on time. Offering to shoulder some of the load will certainly be appreciated! Being seen as a team player will earn you the respect and thanks of your peers. You’ll also have the chance to show off your great planning, organizational, and communication skills!
5. Write an Article
Most organizations have a publication of some sort, be it a newsletter, magazine, or e-zine. Not only do you have a chance to “give back” to your organization by providing an opportunity for learning, but you also will increase your visibility and cement your status as an expert.
6. Serve Your Speciality
Many organizations are large and general in their focus. Join or offer to start a subset group for your specialty, which can address issues that are central to your business and might not be a concern to the membership in general.
7. Offer to Speak on Your Area(s) of Expertise
Like writing an article, speaking will make you more visible and help present you as an expert. Most organizations often find recruiting speakers difficult, so knowing they can turn to you for presentations makes you invaluable.
8. Serve as a Panelist
Less stressful than individual speaking, acting as a panelist will increase your visibility and showcase your ability to work well within a team. When others know how easy you are to work with, and how eager you are to contribute and support team efforts, they’re likely to recommend you for various posts or positions.
9. Experience Regional/National Conferences
While often requiring a monetary investment, getting a “big picture” of changes, reforms, cutting-edge technology and research and other up-to-the-minute topics that you can take back to your local chapter demonstrates your commitment to your industry.
10. Network Your Way to New Business Relationships
After establishing an easy, comfortable rapport with others in the organization, set up one-on-one meetings with a few of your colleagues to discuss how you can work together to meet goals.
There’s a professional organization out there with your name on it…go find it and work it! If you need a hand finding the right fit for you, I’d like to help. Drop me a line and we’ll find your perfect fit.