Why Not Join a Professional Association Now?

associationAre you in work search mode now? You’re probably trying to save money, so you don’t join. Just landed a job? You tell yourself you’re too busy, so you probably don’t join. Mid-career professional? You’ve seen too many professional newbies at those meetings, so you’re reluctant to join. These are all the ways you talk yourself out of a robust set of resources and relationships available to you through participation in a professionally relevant association. I’m a proponent of perpetual “career management” as opposed to spending your career finding one-job-in-a-row. Career management means mindfully managing your relationship to work by asking and answering The Three Career Questions (See Answering The Three Career Questions: Your Lifetime Career Management System. 2014).

  1. When is it time to move up (progress in your work or an organization that you like)?
  2. When is it time to move out (of a relationship, job, role, company or even profession)?
  3. When is it time to adapt your style for greater success?

Professional and alumni associations turn out to be a great resource for answering those questions. Let’s see what is available to you when you join.

Join to move up?

  • Find a mentor that, for political reasons, might better be found outside of your current organization
  • Get an opportunity to observe the dress, vocabulary and content knowledge of the next professional level or tribe you want to join
  • Preview of a more complex job, a higher level position or a different organization you want to progress to

Join to move out?

  • Professional and alumni associations often have their own proprietary job listings. Financial Executives International has an actively managed employment resource – for members only.
  • Searching for work in another geographic area? Visit or contact your professional association chapter there. Call the board members and ask for a referral to a peer or senior member.
  • Prevent a false-positive career move. Meet people from a target company or hear stories about your “dream company” and make sure it doesn’t also have nightmarish qualities that won’t work for you.

Join to adapt your style?

  • Aspiring to management roles but you lack experience? Volunteer or run for a leadership role in an association or alumni organization. Do something impressive with your fellow members and use the experience when you talk about leading without formal authority in your next interview.
  • We all need to develop our talent in an efficient and effective way. Associations such as the Institute of Management Consultants or the Association for Talent Management have really clear competency models to guide your decisions about how and where to spend your time and dollars on professional development.
  • Find a mentor or role model. Your membership gives you access to and credibility with the more experienced professionals that transitioned or adapted in ways that can be very instructive for you. Membership gives you access to a human treasure trove of experience and stories about how successful adaptations can be made for greater success. Remember, you need to pay for the lunch or coffee conversation AND you need to join.

Get out there and join. Step away from your screen. Get out of your rut. Participate. Be seen.

BruceHazenheadshotsmBruce Hazen, MS – Three Questions Consulting
Bruce is a career and management coach working with professionals who are at career crossroads and wanting answers and action strategies for one or more of The Three Career Questions: 1. When is it time to move up? 2. When is it time to move out? 3. When is it time to adapt my style for greater success?

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