If you, like many others out there, are looking to advance your career but don’t know where to start, it may be a great idea to join a professional network or association. There are groups for nearly every profession or area of interest and many have national, state and regional chapters available to join. An association is a synergistic group, meaning that the effect of a collection of people is greater than just one person. So, how exactly can becoming part of this professional network help further your career goals? Here are some benefits of joining an association.
Build Your Network
Many people only connect with those who work directly with them. Professional associations provide the opportunity to build relationships with professionals in your field that may not necessarily be a co-worker. This is essential for business growth as current contacts can be very limiting. Joining a professional network or association opens up the opportunity for future business ventures and lifelong partnerships.
Another benefit of enhancing your professional network is that you may find a mentor to help you with your professional needs or you may be in a position to become a mentor to someone else. Giving back can be the greatest reward and benefit. Participating in forums, chat groups or discussion boards sponsored by the association is also a great way to grow your network. This allows you to use your peers as sounding boards and often make some great friends with the same interests as you.
Keep Up on Industry Trends
When you join a professional network or association, there are many opportunities to learn more about your industry. Many organizations host workshops and/or classes on the latest trends and members often are allowed to attend at a free or discounted price. These workshops are often inclusive and taught by notable professionals throughout the industry, which allows you direct access to them. Furthermore, possessing knowledge about your industry awards you a competitive edge against competition for new employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Take Charge of Your Career
Another important reason to join a professional network is to take advantage of their career resources. Associations often have job listings online or in print available only to their members. This is a great way to find targeted job postings for your field. Additionally, many associations have career resources available such as tips on effective resumes or cover letters, job searching strategies and negotiating techniques. Some associations even have panels of experts that you can contact for specific questions on career issues. Other benefits include information about seminars, training or certification classes that may be suitable for you. Often these classes can be done through webinars or podcasts so you don’t even have to leave your home. And don’t forget, listing your association membership on your resume is impressive to current or future employers as it shows that you are dedicated to staying connected in your profession.
Even if you’re solid in your current field, joining a professional network or association provides many opportunities to continue to further your career.
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