There are professional organizations in every field. But are the yearly dues worth it to join? While each and every organization is different, the basic answer is yes, especially if you are just starting your career.
Whether you are interested in strengthening your network, furthering your career, or learning more about the academic situation around you, professional networking organizations can be a great option for you. In addition to providing information about your chosen field, professional organizations can enhance your personal and professional development and provide endless networking opportunities.
According to Kelly A. Cherwin, Director of Editorial Strategy, HigherEdJobs, “For most people, creating professional relationships is important, and joining a group allows you to have a sense of security and trust. From this, you are able to support and help one another in reaching your professional goals. Associations sponsor numerous events throughout the year that allow you to connect with your peers…Since most associations have national or local conferences, you can participate and have the opportunity to learn about breaking news in your career, learn ‘best practices’ or new ideas, hear about key achievers in your field, and also meet and brainstorm with others who are also looking to share and learn new information.“
The right organization for you will address your needs. As you review different associations, consider the mix of benefits each offers. For example, many professional organizations offer one or more of the following:
- A member directory
- Discounts on or free training
- Networking opportunities
- Discounts on conferences (the organization’s and others)
- Group insurance
- Increased visibility within the membership
- Increased visibility with the general public
- Professional status
- Job opportunities
Are you interested in joining a professional organization just to see what’s new? There is no problem with that either. Many organizations provide newsletters, websites, and webinars to keep its members informed and up-to-date.
If you are not finished moving forward with your career, think about joining a professional organization. Talk to others in your field. Get recommendations and first-hand experiences. Do your research and find which organization best suits your needs and aspirations. And if you have time, become active in the organization itself. Workshops, conferences, campaigns, and committees all need fresh input and energy. Find out where your commitment fits and make a point to get involved.