An important part of building a successful career is developing relationships with other professionals within your industry. According to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE), which supports a broad range of trade and professional associations, there are more than 92,000 recognized trade and professional associations in the United States alone, a number that has grown by 3.4% since 2001. So, no matter what industry you’re in, there’s likely to be an organization to support it.
Professional organizations are a great resource for developing leadership skills, and although it’s easy to just show up at monthly meetings from time to time, read the newsletter, or simply pay dues to maintain your membership, you may be short changing if yourself you’re not actively working to get more involved.
Professional organizations provide opportunities to build your leadership skills and experience. Most organizations will have some kind of leadership council, which is typically elected by the membership. So, if you work in a finance field, for example, and you’re interested in advancing to a leadership position in your company, serving as the treasurer of your professional organization can help give you experience you can tout during your next review. This can be especially beneficial to young professionals who may not have the tenure or experience necessary to take a leadership role in their companies.
Networking and communication skills
Most professionals know how important strong networking and communication skills are in the business world. However, not everyone knows how to do it effectively. Professional organizations provide the perfect training ground for developing your networking prowess. Professionals from businesses throughout the community typically come together for monthly meetings to build relationships and discuss industry trends and challenges. In this environment, it’s easier to approach people you don’t know because there’s already some common ground. In fact, that’s the whole point of most of these organizations—to connect with other professionals in your field. Once you’ve built up some networking experience among your peers, the same skills can help build networks in other parts of your career and personal life. Professional organization meetings also present an opportunity to find great talent for an open job position in your company or receive some valuable face-to-face time with decision makers from other businesses you’re interested in working with in a familiar, neutral environment.
Recent grads and young professionals often get involved in professional organizations to get a foot in the door as they work to build their careers. Mentorships are an important part of the business world, and taking time to guide a young up and comer not only helps them develop as a future leader, but it can help you sharpen your own leadership skills. You’ll also be able to keep in touch with the talent and expertise the next generation will bring to the workplace, as well as learn how to better lead the younger generations in your company. Or, if you’re the one looking for a mentor, professional organizations are a great place to foster those relationships with like-minded thinkers who understand your industry and are equipped to help offer some guidance.
What are some of the skills you’ve learned through your professional organizations? How have they impacted your career? Let us know in the comments section below.
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