You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That statement couldn’t be more accurate than when it comes to career growth. You will find great career momentum when you actively begin networking, regardless of your chosen profession.
Maybe that’s old news to you and you’ve spent time optimizing your LinkedIn profile already. But now, you’re looking for other ways to build a robust professional network. Not sure where to focus next? Consider joining a professional organization to take ownership of your career growth. We’ve got the details for you here.
What Is a Professional Organization?
You probably already know that professional organizations are groups formed around specific work-related topics. These include professional associations, unions, guilds, or simply clubs where members discuss their line of work with other people interested in the same subject. Although they are commonly associated with legal and medical professions, professional organizations exist in many fields.
What Does a Professional Organization Do?
Essentially, professional organizations promote education, creating socialization opportunities and special interests among group members. Often, anyone can join a professional organization as long as they are interested in the topic of the association and meet any related criteria. Professional organizations do not typically restrict membership based on employment status.
While there is no overall standard for how often an organization meets or structures their meetings and group, they should have guidelines in their membership information to give you an idea of what to expect.
What Are the Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization?
When you’re looking for ways to expand your professional network, joining a professional organization has several benefits.
The most significant benefit by far is networking opportunities. Professional associations offer the chance to get involved with other people in your field who may currently hold lucrative job opportunities. Additionally, they may provide further information about industry trends, which could be helpful when applying for vacancies or seeking freelance work.
Another great benefit is staying abreast of industry standards and evolving skill sets. Interacting regularly with group members can help improve your proficiency and knowledge in a way that might be unattainable on your own. By joining a professional organization, you’ll be putting yourself in contact with other individuals with similar interests and creating an open dialogue about work. Perhaps they’re studying or focusing on an aspect of the field you hadn’t considered.
Education for your career development is another significant benefit of joining a professional association community. Not only will you be involved with industry-related topics, but you’ll also have an opportunity to connect with other members who could offer further educational opportunities, like seminars or workshops. Without your membership, you might not get notified about these opportunities.
Finally, if you’re looking to join a professional organization, consider the benefits of socialization. While it may seem at first glance that networking is the only benefit to joining up with your professional association community, socializing can help improve your quality of life. Just think about how much you would enjoy spending time with like-minded individuals who speak your jargon!
Where Can I Find a Professional Organization?
If you’re considering joining an association to grow your career and expand your network, start by asking professors and current managers for any recommendations they might have. If people in your sphere can suggest something appropriate, it should be a go-to option. Additionally, search online for associations based on your profession to see what you can find.
Rather than a generic local business group or your alumni association, (though both are great networking options in their own ways), you’ll often find more streamlined career growth by focusing on organizations specific to your particular fields or career paths. Consider one of the following organizations, for example.
- Association for Financial Professionals (AFP): Geared toward treasury and finance professionals, AFP helps boost careers with certifications, training, networking, and cutting-edge ideas to inspire you.
- Association of International Certified Public Accountants (AICPA): AICPA builds connections and networks for its members across the U.S. and internationally through membership with the Global Accounting Association. Offering continued education, town halls, a resource library, and yearly conventions, an AICPA membership should be high on your list if you have any interest in a financial career.
- American Medical Association (AMA): AMA is the largest association with a mission of “promoting the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health.” Through membership, physicians at every stage of their professional journey can join to save money on insurance, get daily updates on professional standards, and receive assistance in reducing regulatory burdens.
- American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP): ASAP is the “leading provider of education and training for administrative professionals and executive assistants.” Helping you grow your skill set regardless of where you are in your career journey, ASAP offers a massive library of articles and webinar resources, as well as three annual live events and certification to ignite your career growth.
- Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA): CXPA is a global, nonprofit, member-led organization that creates networking and education opportunities for enthusiastic customer support specialists across any field. Through membership, you’ll have a chance to get certified to develop a customer-centric culture.
- National Association of Sales Professionals (NASP): NASP is the largest sales association globally. Through online courses and group coaching, you can acquire industry-standard certifications that set you apart in a competitive job market.
Is a Professional Organization the Next Best Step?
Regardless of your current career stage, a professional organization is a great place to start when you’re ready to expand your network. It can provide an opportunity for coaching and mentoring with industry professionals, along with certifications that will give you the skills needed to advance in your profession. And as new opportunities arise, these organizations are often some of the first places they become available.
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