What was once seen as essential to Baby Boomers’ and GenX’ers’ careers, is often seen as old-fashioned and out-of-date for Millennials. That being said, the younger working generation is now beginning to recognize the benefits of something the older generation found important – professional organizations to enhance their personal growth and career.
When those in fields like retirement planning, human resources, bookkeeping, financial planning and others take part in the right professional association or organization, the benefits become obvious.
We’ve narrowed the list of the reasons to join a professional organization to five, but it’s important to note that research should be done to make sure the organization you choose is the right fit before signing up. If it’s not the right fit and choices are limited (as is the case for those working as an immigration consultant or in HR, where there are few official organization in the region), consider joining and getting in with the leadership group to make the changes you think will attract younger and more progressive members. After all, with Millennials making changes in the workplace, it’s only a matter of time until organizations are forced to make changes – why not be part of the advancement?
Our Top 5 Reasons to Join a Professional Organization:
1. Social Capital.
Professional networks are a key way to bring like-minded people together. This is important for those at all stages of their career, but for younger individuals it’s essential. The importance of social interaction for younger generations is obvious and illustrated in the rapid growth of social media networks and apps that help people create groups and share ideas. Obviously, a professional network can be a similar version of an in-person environment.
Additionally, a strong group of like-minded people can do great things, including advancing an organization as well as its profession. On a more personal and more individual level, networking with others in your field is important for a wide range of reasons. This includes creating a sounding board of trusted allies who know and understand the field and can help you deal with work issues you’re experiencing. Your network within the professional organization can help you as accountability partners and mentors to help you reach professional and personal goals. This specially-selected group can also help individuals think about situations and challenges differently while still understanding the “rules of the game” of the industry in which they work.
2. Your Next Job.
Sure, you’re already in a job and you probably love it, but it’s pretty rare for anyone to stay in their job for decades as their grandparents did. Being part of a professional organization helps by keeping you connected with others in your field. When the time comes for you to change companies or even go out on your own, the support of those in the field will not only keep you motivated in the search and move ahead, but these people are often those who know when new job postings come up.
In addition to the job knowledge your fellow members will have, these organizations also often offer job boards where companies looking for individuals in your field of expertise will post positions. Sometimes these job boards are available only to members within the professional organization so if you land the right job – and hopefully a pay increase as a result – the membership may pay for itself.
3. Education and Growth.
Chances are, you enrolled in a formal education program in order to get into your career. Sometimes the education is essential for certification or earning a designation, while other times it’s an employer requirement or it may simply be something you chose to do to stand out among other job candidates.
You may have thought your education was over when you graduated, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You’ve heard the saying, “the only thing constant is change” and all occupations change with the times. Perhaps new systems come into the market, or maybe there is a requirement for ongoing education upgrades in order to remain certified, you might even want additional education to advance in your career or take on leadership roles. Your professional organization is the ideal place to find the further education you need that is specific to your occupation.
4. Benefits and perks.
Almost every professional organization has negotiated special deals with companies. Whether it’s a discount on work clothing, travel or office supplies, there will be a number of benefits available to members. You might receive a card when you become a member that you can show to the benefit providers or each provider may give a specific code to use online – there is a range of ways to take advantage of your benefits depending upon how the system is set up. Plus, because these perks are included with your membership, it doesn’t matter who employs you, or if you are self-employed – so long as your membership is paid and in your name, you will receive the benefits.
As mentioned, for some, being part of a professional organization is a requirement in order to achieve a certification or designation but there is also a certain amount of cache that comes with being a member of such an organization. It elevates your status within your profession and shows others that you know it is important to be part of a group of professionals that are involved in promoting and (hopefully) advancing the industry.
Of course, there are many other great reasons to join your particular professional organization – whether it’s a requirement for certification or designation or not. Many of the reasons overlap in terms of the organization’s ability to bring like-minded people together to share ideas, provide encouragement and deliver knowledge. Take advantage of the opportunities in your industry by finding the right professional organization for your needs and remember, even if the organization you find isn’t exactly right, there is often an opportunity to step up, be part of the leadership team and help make the change you want to see in the group so that others will be even more excited to join.