Should You Belong to an Industry Organization?
Photography by Emily Wilson Photography
Maybe you’ve thought about joining an industry organization but felt the dues were too high, the benefits were too few, or you were too busy with other commitments to make it worth your while. Being part of an industry organization may not drive a lot of extra business to your door, but there are lots of other good reasons why you should belong.
The number one reason to belong to an industry organization is to have access to a network of your peers. Ask any long-term member of any organization you choose and they will tell you the most valuable benefit they’ve received has been the business connections and friendships they have made as a result of going to meetings and events or serving on committees with others they probably never would have had the chance to meet otherwise. Not just their careers and businesses but their lives have been made much richer because they made the decision to participate.
Membership is an acknowledgment of your professionalism. Some clients may not care that you have an acronym after your name, but professional membership enhances your overall brand and helps to set you apart from others who are less qualified.
By being a member you are supporting an organization that represents your profession to other organizations and government bodies, and that supports professional training, education, and standards. Many organizations conduct or fund research that furthers professional knowledge and practice. The industry, your profession, and your practice benefit from the work they do.
Industry organizations compile, compose, and distribute loads of important and valuable information concerning the industry, the profession, practice, and products that would take you hours or days to gather on your own. They develop and make available training and professional development sessions, workshops, round tables, and other events to keep you up-to-date on the latest trends, technologies, business practices, standards, regulations, market opportunities, and other developments you need to know about to stay current and competitive.
Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the products, services, and discounts many organizations offer. Some members have gained valuable skills and experience through participating in leadership positions that they have applied to their businesses as well. Others simply welcome the chance to gather periodically with friends and colleagues to share and celebrate the work that they do.
Will being a member of an industry organization make you a better professional or business person? Not necessarily. As with most things, what you get out of it depends a lot on what you are willing to put into it.