How do you find out about professional organizations that could be a good fit for you and your goals? How do you decide which organizations to join, whether for networking in your niche, business development/new clients, or just better opportunities? Ladies, what are your best tips for finding worthwhile professional organizations?
Many readers offered their advice when we last discussed professional organizations, and we’re including their best suggestions in our list of tips:
Find out which groups others have joined. Talk to coworkers, including your superiors. Ask people connected with your college or grad school, like former professors and fellow alumni. Look at the LinkedIn profiles of your colleagues, and read trustees’ and board members’ bios. If you can, go to a meeting of a local professional organization and ask people about the other groups they enjoy.
Be sure to attend a couple of events. This is key to get a feel for an association before you actually make a commitment. Social gatherings can be especially good for this purpose. You may find out it’s just not a good fit, or your experiences may confirm that you made the right choice.
Find out what the membership fees are. Will your employer pay for them? If not, can you deduct them on your taxes?
Make certain that you actually care about the organization. Choose one that feels worthy of your time and efforts. You’ll get more out of it, and fellow members will appreciate the enthusiasm of someone who really wants to be there.
Once you join, go beyond the minimum. It’s the best way to meet people, develop your skills, and build your reputation. Join a committee, help plan an event, or offer to work on a special project.
Readers’ Recommendations for Professional Organizations
- The American Association of University Women. One reader said she gets to network with professional women of all ages and find new clients. She also said that membership doesn’t have to mean a big time commitment.
- The professional society/organization for your field. Groups like these offer continuing education plus the chance to meet people at all career levels.
- Your local Junior Chamber of Commerce and Chamber of Commerce. They offer plenty of networking opportunities.
- The local young professionals group. Note that your success here might depend on the nature of your city’s group. One reader praised it as a good source of clients, while another found it full of people either trying to either sell something or hook up.
- Groups for the legal field
- State and local bar associations. Readers said that being an active member has led to referrals, boosted their reputations, and brought news of job opportunities. (Active membership may mean helping with networking events, CLE offerings, etc.)
- DRI. A few readers recommended this organization for defense attorneys and in-house counsel. It provides CLE seminars, conferences, and networking opportunities. One commenter mentioned that her time commitment involved just one seminar and fly-in each year.
- American Inns of Court. This association is for lawyers, judges, and other professionals in the legal field. Many readers recommended joining an Inn, which doesn’t require a huge time commitment. One commenter called it one of the best things she’s done for her career, and particularly liked the opportunities to network with other lawyers, get to know judges, and connect with mentors.
Of course, there are far too many professional organizations to list here. For a helpful list, check PINK, where you’ll find groups for various careers, geographic areas, demographic groups, and interests.
Which professional organizations do you belong to? Which have you found to be the most helpful?
Further Reading About Joining Professional Organizations:
- An Easy Way to Make Sure You Never Stagnate in Your Career [The Muse]
- Professional Organizations: More Valuable Than You Even Knew [The Muse]
- Millennials Have Rediscovered the Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization [Entrepreneur]
- Anatomy Of A Scam: The National Association Of Professional Women [The Establishment]