Membership with a professional association can prove to be a tremendous information source for job leads and meeting other like-minded professionals. Joining a professional association that is related to your industry or career is one of the best ways to network.
Use meetings and conferences held by professional associations to improve your communication skills and business etiquette. Get involved in projects related to your industry or career field to expand your skills and meet other professionals. Attend the workshops, functions and seminars that are organized. This is the ideal opportunity for you to socialize with others that share the same career goals and interest.
Join a committee. This will increase your visibility, allow you to showcase your skills and give you the chance to work with other professionals (as opposed to just chatting with them at a conference, let’s say).
Attend trade shows. Seek out the exhibitors that interest you. Learn about the products and services offered by the company. Find out if there are any job opportunities available. Exhibitors can be a great source of information.
Going to Conferences
Most professional associations put on yearly conferences, trade shows and other events. It is important to keep abreast of what is going on in your industry through the expertise of local and national guest speakers at these conferences. Get there early because you may be fortunate enough to meet a few speakers spontaneously and get the one-on-one time that you hoped for. Make sure you stay at the hotel that is hosting the conference. The hotel that is located across the street may limit your networking possibilities.
You probably won’t have a job offer when you leave the conference. However, be sure to collect business cards and, of course, give out many as well. After you return from the conference, keep in touch.
Most professional associations will send their members a monthly or quarterly trade journal, magazine or newsletter. These publications can be a great source for “insider” news in the industry, such as who is moving where or what business deals took place during the month. Taking the time to review these publications can provide you with good topics for small talk during networking functions, will give you a sense of who’s who in your industry and may allow you to foresee emerging trends. These publications may also contain a section dedicated to job openings.
Ask relevant questions to gain insights into the industry. Some questions to consider are:
- Who are the major employers in your field of interest?
- What are the ways that you can get more involved in this field?
- Is there anyone you can speak to about finding a career in this field?
Networking is the primary benefit of membership in a professional association. Once you get involved with an industry association, it will allow you to be more exposed to industry practices and innovative ways of thinking. Members of these associations will be more willing to speak to you because there is a common bond. Associations are prime targets for a lot of recruiters and hiring managers who want to search for good employee prospects. A recommendation from one of these hiring managers carries a lot of weight to land you that perfect job. Instead of just attending an association event, why not become a part of the planning process?
by John Sylo