You’ve got your degree. You’re working and getting experience. And now you’re thinking about joining a professional society. After all, everyone tells you it’ll look great on a resume (or on your LinkedIn profile). That’s true; but if that’s as far as it goes for you, you’re missing out on a world of opportunities.
Most professional societies have two primary goals: sharing knowledge and information about the subject area and connecting practitioners. A thriving professional society can deliver on those goals. And to get the most out of your membership, consider that this really is a case of you get out of it what you put in. A good way of thinking of it is that being involved is being aware.
What can a professional society do for you? It can help you stay current on your area of practice. But then, a good trade publication, website, or blog can do that, too. Want to know more? Consider these three steps to getting the most value from your membership.
3 Steps to Maximize Value from a Professional Society
1. Show Up
Attend meetings and events. Most organizations have a website with a monthly meeting calendar. Review the schedule and add the meetings to your Outlook calendar (and register via the website, if that’s a requirement). Even if a session isn’t on a topic that you think is a 100 percent match for you, consider attending so that you can get to know other members.
It doesn’t help to show up if you don’t network. Talk to people. After all, it’s the people — the “society” — that make it a great resource. At meetings and events, introduce yourself to someone new. Ask that person what brought him or her there and what that person gets out of being in the group. When you leave the meeting, connect with new colleagues via LinkedIn. You’ve already got a common interest to build from. And the support you get from your community of practitioners can be invaluable.
3. Get Involved
Whether you offer to help with a committee or serve on the board, volunteering with your professional society can help you not only increase your networking opportunities but allow you to learn a new skill or fine-tune existing skills like leadership, marketing, communication, etc.
What are you doing to get maximum value from your professional society memberships?
Image via the American Society of Civil Engineers