When I first got started in my career (the one preceding this one), I discovered something powerful that had profound impacts throughout my life.
It transcended my work.
It shaped my thinking.
But more importantly, it helped me grow.
I got involved in professional organizations. These memberships truly have a “push-pull” effect on your own professional and personal development. You only get out of it what you put into it. True: sometimes, they are like a demanding mistress, hounding you to get deadlines done that are critical to the organization but have absolutely nothing to do with your paid “daytime” job. But the rewards are tremendous because as most of these organizations are volunteer-driven, you can step back and look at a completed project that you truly drove to fruition. Looking for a project where you can have complete ownership? This is the place to be. It’s a powerful feeling.
For career professionals (or any professional, for that matter), the value of joining an organization in your industry isn’t so much of a cost as it is an investment. You shouldn’t let a dollar figure of the membership fee deter you from opening up that door and getting involved.
It still staggers me that within my current industry, there are many career professionals who have yet to join a professional organization.
They are completely missing the boat. I hope this note reaches them and helps convince them that EVERYONE stands to benefit from joining their particular industry’s professional association(s).
As a member of organizations such as Career Directors International, I have found incredible benefits reaped from these membership investments.
Networking, business referrals, a forum that allows members to post questions and respond with answers, conferences that deliver cutting edge information on trends impacting our services, industry certification that conveys quality and integrity, as well as a member-only website that houses a staggering array of resources and information that have been incredibly helpful to me and my business in growing quickly.
Not to mention that having those memberships puts a touch of gravitas to my own credentials as they demonstrate that I take my own career seriously and am committed to doing the very best job for my clients, who are actually MY employers.
But, like most membership organizations (and this goes for anyone), the most powerful impact an industry membership can have on your career is the value of trusted connections and reputation management. I’ve gotten to know some of the top experts in the careers industry as a result, and vice versa. Through those relationships, I have been able to turn to contacts-turned-friends for advice and insight, and offered up my own counsel when asked as well.
Those connections are life-long and fuel the integrity of my business. I urge any career professional who has not yet invested in a membership to consider doing so.
Think about what kind of impact having meaningful industry membership can have on your own career and life. The possibilities are endless!
Photos By Dbxsoul (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons