There is a common misperception that once you have a full-time job you no longer need to do those ‘resume-boosting’ activities like joining industry associations. But that perception couldn’t be further from the truth.
I get it, life is busy. And your job already requires you to learn about your industry, so it may seem like a waste of valuable time to be involved in an industry organization. So what’s the incentive to get involved? Let me give you three reasons…
1.The people. It has been said that your network is your net worth; if that is the case, joining an industry association expands both. At its most basic level, association membership gives you different perspectives on your projects or the industry as a whole. You spend so many hours per week with your co-workers that sometimes a fresh set of eyes can give you renewed energy. I find it to be very stimulating to talk to industry people outside of my company because their experiences can help you think about things differently and also give you an understanding of how other companies do things. It never hurts to have a larger perspective and you as well as your company will benefit from it.
2. The events. Industry associations typically host both networking and professional development events and I find both to be helpful. Some organizations even do webinars for those who can’t make in-person events! Continuing to learn and grow in your field is crucial for your success and is a key part of your company’s success as well. I love the in-person events because it’s a meaningful way to reach beyond your office. Also, in an age when so many certifications are completed online, it is good on occasion to learn in-person. It’s important to find the right association for you; do your research, go to an event and talk to some members to see if it seems to be a good fit for you.
3. The visibility. Industry associations can also be a great way to share your knowledge and give yourself and your company some exposure in the marketplace. Many associations also have awards and opportunities to speak at events for members; these can be great ways to acknowledge your hard work and share your knowledge. Establishing yourself as a thought leader and an active member of the industry is invaluable and will greatly help your career.
Like anything, you’ll get out what you put in. If you are just going to join and not get involved, it’s probably not going to be much value to you, and you should save your money. However, if you are willing to participate in events (it does NOT have to be every event) and maybe join a committee, submit an award or volunteer to speak, etc., then it will be worth every penny.
Best of all, most companies are willing to pay for an employee’s membership dues, so don’t be afraid to at least ask. And even if your company doesn’t cover the expense, consider it extra motivation to get your moneys worth by being an active member.