The types of industry associations that exist are endless. In an effort to create camaraderie among industry professionals, share best practices, provide education, and create opportunity, every industry is represented by numerous associations. Here are just a couple examples of professions and corresponding associations:
If you are a… Take some time to explore… At this website
Nurse The American Nurses Association nursingworld.org
HR Manager The Society for Human Resources Management shrm.org
Looking for associations that represent a specific category rather than a specific job title or industry? Simply Google your role, profession, or category followed by the word “association.” You are bound to find either a local, national, or international association that will provide you an opportunity to engage with individuals who share your interests.
Last, we learned about the various roles you can play when engaging with industry associations. Each role has varying degrees of commitment and complexity. Here are a few details for each:
- Guest. Also known affectionately as a “non-member,” most association meetings and events are open to everyone. Attending an industry association event before you join the association is a great way to “kick the tires” to assess if this is the group for you.
- Member. Once you join the association, you become eligible for the benefits that come with membership, including reduced registration prices for events and access to industry resources that are not open to non-members.
- Writer/blogger. Most industry associations have a website, a newsletter, and a blog. If attending a meeting is not possible for you, perhaps providing content for an industry publication is an alternative. Even if you cannot attend every meeting, you can identify a topic of interest to the membership for publication. Industry associations are always seeking content for their newsletters, and your submission will be welcomed.
- Committee volunteer. Most associations have a number of committees that allow you to help the association including finance, marketing, membership, programming, professional development, public relations, and sponsorship. As a volunteer on a committee, you can bring your professional expertise (i.e., your talent with numbers or your love of the sales process) to the association during the year. Many individuals join a committee before moving on to more complex roles, such as serving on the Board.
- Special project volunteer. If participating on a committee for a year feels like too much of a commitment, your industry association may host a special event (e.g., a regional conference) during the year. These special events are like a project – they have a start and end date – and once the event is over, so is your commitment.
- Workshop/webinar/teleclass facilitator, speaker, or panelist. Whether you join your industry association or not, presenting or participating on a panel is a good way to engage with your industry. Associations are always looking for speakers who will elevate the education level of their members.
- Board of Directors member. When you are ready to maximize your visibility within your industry, the Board of Directors is the place for you. Being on an association Board requires the highest degree of commitment, and represents the highest degree of complexity. Board roles typically include President, President-Elect, and Vice-President for the committee roles listed earlier. Being on a Board can be a very rewarding experience as it provides you the greatest opportunity to impact member experience.
You can engage with an industry association in several ways. In most associations, there is something for everyone, and each of these roles vary in their degree of commitment and complexity.
You can actively engage with an industry association as a:
- Committee volunteer
- Special project volunteer
- Workshop/webinar/teleclass facilitator, speaker, or panelist
- Board of Directors member
Next we’ll discuss a few more specifics for each.
Once you convince your boss that your membership and your attendance is work-related, you want to have your organization pay for your membership or registration fees. How do you start? You could write a memo similar to the example below, or use the key points from this example as talking points for a conversation.
I am interested in attending a professional development workshop being hosted by the Software Development Association (SDA). The workshop is on Tuesday, April 10, starting at 8:00 am and ending at 4:00 pm.
The SDA is a global organization dedicated to the professional development of business professionals in the software industry. As I continue to grow my career with our organization, I believe attending this event has the following advantages:
- I would like to use this opportunity to search for candidates for the open Legal Assistant role. There will be over 100 professionals in attendance at this workshop.
- I would like to recap best practices that I learn during the workshop and share them with you. Together we may identify a couple of best practices that we can implement here.
- I want to seek out a colleague who is familiar with the new invoicing platform to which we will be moving in three years. I anticipate this colleague can provide us some information and advice about his/her experiences.
During my absence, I plan to have Marc be the “point-person” for my team and any client issues. I am going to meet with my team two days before the workshop to plan for my absence, and meet with them the day after the workshop to ensure any issues that arose during my absence were immediately addressed.
I anticipate that attending this workshop, as well as any challenges I face managing my absence, will help me grow my capabilities as a leader at our organization. To that end, I am also requesting that you approve paying for the workshop which costs $499.00 (lunch and materials included).
I am excited about this opportunity and appreciate your support. Thank you for your consideration of this request.