Tuesday, August 4, 2009

5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

My recent post, "Are Professional Organizations Old School?," led to some great foll0w-up discussions. Below is a list of five reasons to participate in a professional organization. Special thanks to @LindaJacobson, @dquack, @vedo, @kristen_okla and Craig(comments) for weighing in online or off.

5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization

1. Face-to-Face: There is still immense value in meeting with people face-to-face. Online tools like Twitter, Facebook, Skype, etc., have drawn us all a bit closer online, but it is still no substitute for real live interaction. Online social interaction saps non-verbal cues and much of the human element out of everyday communication.
2. Get Out: Almost all of us are guilty of being chained to our routines. Whether you sit at a desk or have a more active job, it's easy to get in a rut. By attending a professional meeting/happy hour/etc., you are getting out of the office and into the world. Anything can happen out there.
3. Meet New People: Whether you are an independent practitioner who mostly talks to your cat or an office worker who mostly interacts with the same small group of people, there's real value in branching out and having a few new conversations. Also, you learn pretty quick about which areas you(or your organization) are ahead or behind the curve.
4. Jobs: A bit of a no-brainer here, but there are still college students being churned out every day that think they'll be handed a job based on their amazing promise and college accomplishments. I can gig them a little because I was one of those graduates. I could not understand why employers were not as excited about me as I was about me. Even if you are not looking for a job, the connections you make today could help you down the line. Good people hire good people, not resumes.
5. Leadership Experience: Every organization I have been involved with is looking for people to head up committees and perform other functions like updating a web site, managing a LinkedIn group, lining up speakers, etc. Perhaps you are a person who needs to prove to your managers that you are leadership material. Or perhaps you simply want the valuable experience of working within a leadership group. You will also gain insight into financial aspects, politics, and other areas that are possibly not part of your regular experience.

So there's my five, do you have any to add?
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Kristie Aylett, APR said...

Great post, Terry. I get so much value from my memberships in professional organizations that I'm amazed when others deem them a waste of time and money. But then, I do much more as a member than just write a check every year.
It may be a cliche to say that it's not what you know, it's who you know, but the saying is also very true. Sitting at your desk and doing a good job is great, but it won't always help you get your next job. Who will give you a reference when you can't ask your boss for one? For me, colleagues from professional organizations have morphed into friends, mentors, co-workers, bosses, and clients. Best investment ever.

kamran said...

Well said! I have often found that the quote 'the view from behind a desk is a poor one' is true, and often truest when said about upper mgt types who shun the peer-to-peer events. Almost all of my best connections came from or were strengthened dramatically by our professional org. events.