All throughout college, it was always instilled in my mind to network with other people. I was told to network with working professionals since it would help me get interviews, learn about different industries, learn about different companies, learn how to conduct myself professionally and ultimately help me land a job. Therefore, I reached out to hundreds of alumni through email. I tried to set up phone conversations with the ones that would respond to me. This experience allowed me to truly enrich my knowledge of different industries, companies and positions. It also gave me the confidence to interact with professionals who were more established and older than me (which certainly helped with interviews). Now that I am considered an experienced professional, I realize that it is equally important to network. One avenue for networking is through a professional association. Here are some reasons why it is extremely beneficial to join a professional association and regularly attend events.
Establish Your Brand
Your personal brand and reputation is perhaps the most valuable thing you own. It takes years to build and can be completely destroyed almost immediately. Your brand is what attracts people to your professional skill set. The more people that know and respect your brand, the more opportunities will come your way. Therefore, focus on nurturing and growing your brand. I recommend building a personal website to showcase your professional skills.
Expand Your Network
Your network is a valuable resource that you can give to and take from. It is a collection of people who you have maintained positive relationships with throughout the years. Obviously, you’ll have stronger relationships with certain people within your network than others. Having a strong, robust and expansive network will allow you to easily obtain interviews, jobs and new business opportunities. It can be both financially and emotionally rewarding.
Learn About Industries
If you are at a professional event, conversations about work experiences are the norm. If you are a less experienced individual, interacting with more experienced people will teach you a lot about businesses and industries. It will develop your knowledge and give you more talking points to connect with other people.
Once you are more established, you will meet less experienced professionals who are just starting off. By networking with these people, you will have the chance to mentor them and guide them through their careers. It can be an extremely rewarding experience.
Access to Jobs
Many professional associations will have their own job forum and postings. Being a part of such an association will allow you access to these job postings that may not appear anywhere else. Just by being a part of a professional association is a signaling mechanism to a potential employer to show that you are serious about your career and about the industry. As a result, it will give you a leg up compared to applicants who are not part of such an association.
Finally, but perhaps most important, consistently going to networking events and interacting with a wide variety of people will help you build confidence. Having enough confidence is essential for taking appropriate business risks, making large deals happen and effecting significant change within an organization. These are all qualities and skills that aid in making one successful in her career.
There are a variety of professional associations out there. These associations may be catered to a specific industry, cultural or ethnic group, age group, city or region, or a specific function. For example, there are industry groups for people in entertainment, finance, sales, law and marketing. It is up to you to seek out the different organizations and associations that are out there. These organizations are really easy to find on Google. You can simply search for professional associations that are tied to certain industries, ethnic groups, age groups, geographic regions, or anything you can think of. Once you find something you are interested in, try to attend some of their events and start meeting people. After all, you never know who you might meet and where that experience may take you.
Professional Development and Personal Finance Blog