There are many ways to network. One way to enhance your career and meet other people in your field is to join a professional association. Here are some benefits of joining an association:
Being connected to people in your field, part of your affinity group or who share similar interests to you will open up opportunities to network, develop your professional career provide social and emotional support. For example, The Boston Chapter of the American Marketing Association offers a Connector Series that allows people to network in small groups as they discuss marketing topics. This allows professionals to mingle with other marketing professionals while gaining new insights in the field.
BU student, Josee Matela, is happy that she joined the Asian American Journalist Association. “The biggest point for me so far, is how diverse, knowledgeable, and kind the members are so far.”
There are opportunities for professional development via seminars and webinars that provide coaching or introduce new trends in the field. For example, the Urban League has a large annual conference that covers social justice and civic engagement within urban communities. There are classes on how to market and how to get more civically involved in your community. If you’re part of a field specific organization like the IMC USA, for consultants, you’ll be constantly informed on industry standards and certification opportunities.
Participating and getting involved in these events allow you to take leadership in activities. For example, many organizations depend on people to chair committees and plan the events. These are great leadership opportunities that can be placed on your resume and further build your skills. It is also a way to learn about hidden talent or interests you weren’t aware of. These are experiences that you can put on your resume.
Joining a professional network is a great way to make friends. Many professional associations incorporate social aspects. For example, the Young Black Professional Network has annual beach days where young professionals can enjoy the summer and have fun!
In essence, when joining a professional association you’re volunteering your time and efforts. Some organizations go the extra mile and even have volunteering arms such as tutoring programs, clean up days and other service oriented events. For example, The Massachusetts Bar Association, has a page dedicated to volunteer opportunities such as mentoring, educational opportunities and pro bono services.
By becoming involved in professional organizations, you will most likely build a strong connections with many people. Consider asking the person to be a mentor. This person can provide support, share experiences, give advice and connect you to leads in your field. ALPHA (The Association of Latino Professionals For America) provides an easy way for people to search for members to connect.