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.
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.
An important mindset for you, your boss, and your organization is that your membership in an industry association is work-related. This is not an extracurricular activity. The benefits to you and your organization, as we reviewed in prior posts, are compelling and numerous.
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. Ideally, your boss has budgeted money for industry memberships and meeting registrations. If not, help your boss become proactive by allocating dollars during the budget planning cycle for professional development and industry memberships. The fastest way to close a conversation regarding your organization paying your fees is that there is no money budgeted.
Here is a more in depth look at how you can help ensure that your boss’s mindset regarding your participation in industry association events is a hurdle rather than a roadblock:
- Be open with your boss. Your participation in an industry association should not be a secret. In order to reduce the stress that your boss or your organization may create due to your membership in an industry association, be open with your boss regarding any industry affiliations. Share with your boss that while you anticipate it will be infrequent, you will be interested in attending an industry meeting or conference that might occur during a workday. Confirm with your boss that you will let her know immediately so that your attendance is not a surprise.
- Ask for support. Once your boss is aware that you might attend an industry association meeting or conference during the workday, ask for his support. Ensure he understands that the meeting is work-related, and remind him of the benefits, including the following:
- You will network with other business professionals in order to identify talent for key open positions in your department.
- You will network with industry experts who might have insights on how to plan and implement a big project that is scheduled to start next year.
- You will learn and bring back to the organization best practices that can help the organization achieve its short- and long-term goals.
- You will accelerate your professional development, increasing the value that you provide the organization.
- Plan for your absence. Once you are committed to attend an industry event that occurs during the workday, ensure that you plan for your absence. Often, you boss will feel less angst if she knows that pending work is being completed while you are away. Delegate key tasks to your subordinates, and ask a peer to act as a “point-person” for your team in your absence. This way, you ensure that the work you are responsible for gets done. By identifying a peer to act as your point-person during your absence, you also reduce the risk of drowning in a flood or emails and phone calls from subordinates, clients, and bosses.
- Deliver on your plan. In order to ensure that you can attend future events during the workday, you must deliver on your plan. Nothing will shoot down a future request to attend an industry event during the workday faster than the memory of a debacle that occurred during your last absence. Assuming your plan worked, ensure your boss is aware that your team rose to the occasion.
Balancing work and industry association engagement in your busy organization is not easy. Engaging with industry associations can become harder if your boss does not support the concept. Your boss may feel that industry association meetings are just social or networking events “dressed-up” to look like a work-related event. Your boss may believe that engaging with your industry is not a productive use of time. Your boss may think that any industry related activities should be done “off-the-clock.” If your boss has any of these perspectives, his lack of support can be a significant hurdle to your efforts to engage with your industry.
In order to ensure that your boss’s mindset is a hurdle rather than a roadblock, follow these steps:
- Be open with your boss.
- Ask for support.
- Plan for your absence.
- Deliver on your plan.
Next week, we’ll take a more in depth look at how you can ensure that your boss’s mindset is a hurdle rather than a roadblock.
During my tenure as an author, speaker, and leadership coach, many of my colleagues are curious how I got my practice started. Many of you may not realize that I started my business from “square one.” I did not know I was going to be laid-off from Iron Mountain and I had zero plans to start an independent practice.
When I think back on how I got my practice started, I share the following thoughts with my colleagues:
- Ensure your significant-other supports your transition. One of the two things that will end your transition from corporate to consulting is your significant-other, looking at you across the breakfast table, telling you that he/she needs you to get a job.
- Have a strong financial foundation. The second thing that will end your transition is a financial crisis. Anyone transitioning from corporate to consulting needs to have a strong financial foundation for at least three to five years. You will need it!
- Be transparent about your wins and losses. Hiding how you are doing (or not doing) can be a very easy behavior. This only leads, however, to others believing you are achieving more than you are. Always be transparent with your significant-other regarding how you are doing, what is working, and what is not working.
- Create best-in-class materials. Great artifacts of your work will lead others to believe what you are doing is great. Second-class materials (generally created to save money in the short-term) will lead others to believe what you are doing is second-class.
- Always be optimistic and persistent. I started my practice during our most recent recession in 2008. It would have been easy for me to blame the economy and quit. Yet, because my wife supported me, we were financially sound, I was transparent with her, and I invested in best-in-class materials, I was able to make the turn.
You are more likely to be successful if you have a strong foundation and start with your house in order.