This week kicks off the American Society of Association Executives’ (ASAE) semiannual Association Management Week and it's got us thinking: professional associations are hugely essential resources to the individuals that belong to them and the industries they serve.
That said, how can you make sure you're getting the most out of your association membership?
Since our goal here at EveryAction is to support organizations of all sizes as they work to provide value to their members, we asked our own Nathan Moore, EveryAction's association ace, for tips on fully realizing the benefits of membership in a professional association.
Take advantage of professional development opportunities
Whether you work at a tech company, in the medical community or elsewhere, there is much to be gained by joining an association of your peers.
Associations often provide members with important research regarding new workplace trends + provide forums to develop best practices within their profession.
Many associations even offer free or discounted professional development courses, certificates, and training programs that can help make you even better at doing your job.
Network with your peers
We all know professional networking can be a chore, but getting to know like-minded peers can be a great way to expand your network, learn more about your industry, and even make your next job search easier.
From happy hours to lunches to annual conferences, associations provide many opportunities to meet people with similar professional interests and goals.
Get to know the legislative priorities for 2015
Some associations are more advocacy-focused than others, but most enlist a government affairs team to ensure that voices in your industry are heard alongside other stakeholders within a turbulent state + federal regulatory landscape.
Take some time this year to find out more about your association's local, state, and federal legislative priorities + maybe even support its political action committee (PAC).
You might be thinking that advocacy isn't for you, but staying on the pulse of policy changes that impact your industry is vital to planning for the future. Plus, advocacy doesn't have to just be about politics!
Grow some grassroots in your community
Another important role for an advocate is in the community. Many associations dedicate time + resources to spreading goodwill in the places where their members live, work, and play.
If this is more your speed, get involved with charity drives, cleanups, neighborhood forums, and other activities that focus on local issues + prosperity.
Gain leadership experience
Joining an association can open you up to an increased range of leadership opportunities that you might otherwise miss out on.
Though board-level positions are generally earned through years of participation + service, many organizations have steering committees + other volunteer opportunities that can help you make a name for yourself (and add more experience to your resume!)
Get discounts + free stuff!
OK, so maybe we have a bit of a stake in this one, but it’s true nonetheless. Vendors love sponsoring associations!
Many associations are able to host off-site events, parties, and annual gatherings thanks to generous sponsorships + vendor partnerships.
Their vendor partners, in turn, use these meetings as opportunities to build relationships with association members, often through giving them generous discounts on items + services.
We hope this guide has given you the inspiration to really dive into your professional association this year.
Happy Association Management Week from EveryAction!