At a time when budgets are tight and extra time in the day is rare, joining a professional organization or association can seem like more of a burden than a benefit. However, these groups can provide valuable resources and services that can actually enhance your career. Here’s how.
- Professional development: Most professional organizations offer opportunities for continuing education through a variety of channels, including local and national conferences, publications, suggested reading materials and speakers’ bureaus. For example, the Public Relations Society of America, an organization to which many Mitchell team members belong, offers a library of free online webinars to its members, available for download at any time.
- Mentoring: Professional organizations provide a way for young professionals in search of mentors to connect with senior professionals with skills and experience to offer. Some larger organizations even offer a formal program for mentorship, an invaluable resource for those wishing to enter into a structured mentor/mentee relationship.
- Networking: This is the obvious benefit of professional organization membership, as it provides a built-in way to connect with fellow practitioners in your field. Sharing best practices, exchanging ideas and staying abreast of job opportunities -- for yourself or for someone you know -- are good examples. Getting involved beyond membership alone is a good way for individuals who are just beginning their careers to work alongside senior professionals.
- Keeping up with trends: An organization dedicated to an industry or profession should be current on trends that affect them. The ability to anticipate what’s coming can help you plan for where your company -- and your job -- will be in the coming years, giving you time to acquire additional skills and knowledge that will be needed.
Investigate your professional membership benefits a bit deeper and you can find ways to make them work for you.
Have you found benefits by belonging to a professional association? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog.