If you are looking for a great way to meet and network with professionals who work in a similar role or industry, you may want to join a professional association. Most associations have both national and regional events throughout the year, and it is a good bet that you can find an event, conference, or user group in almost every area of interest.
I have been an active board member of the New England Electronic Commerce Users Group (NEECOM) for many years, and last month, I attended our annual Fall Conference. There were approximately 100 people in attendance from about 40 different New England based companies, and we all had the common goal of learning more about e-Commerce best practices. NEECOM hosts two 1 – 2 day conferences each year and the group’s membership consists of e-Commerce and EDI professionals based in the New England area. During each event, there are presentations on the latest e-Commerce and EDI trends as well as plenty of time to meet and collaborate with fellow members to share ideas as well as discuss ways to resolve workplace challenges.
Attending conferences and user groups will likely give you the opportunity to learn about “best practices” or new ideas, meet key achievers in your field, brainstorm with others who are also looking to share and learn new information, as well as have some fun and meet new people. 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.
You may not want to just ‘attend’ these events, you may want to become an active member or participant who helps to plan, promote, and run these types of events.
The following are a few ideas on how to become an active member of a professional association:
Volunteer to be a speaker
If you enjoy public speaking and want to get yourself noticed by your peers, you should submit a relevant presentation topic idea to an active board member or event coordinator. If all goes well, you will most likely be chosen to speak.
Become an active board member
Many associations have a Board of Directors and may be looking for additional volunteers to join the board to help with activities such as conference promotion and marketing, conference agenda creation, member recruitment, event registration, etc.
Organize a fundraising event
Many associations are non-profits and needs membership dues and other monies to help grow and stay afloat for future events. You may want to organize a raffle, silent auction, lead volunteer donation campaigns, to help raise money for the association.
Moderate an expert panel discussion
Many associations often showcase experts in a particular topic or field. You may want to coordinate and recruit experts in a particular topic for a panel discussion and help moderate the panel during the event.
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, becoming an active member in a professional association is definitely a step in the right direction.
Are you thinking about joining a professional association? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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