The 2011-2012 networking season kicked off with CPRS Toronto’s annual Open House on Tuesday, October 4. It was a great event – beautiful location, delicious food and good company. As always, I left the event with a stack of business cards and new LinkedIn connections, but it also got me thinking about all the reasons I value my membership in a professional association.
Whether you belong to CPRS, IABC, or any other professional association, a membership can add real value to your professional life. Here are three good reasons to join a professional association, no matter what stage of your career you’re in.
We’ve all heard it before, networking is vital to your professional life. More importantly, networking should be an ongoing objective – not just something you do when you’re looking for a job. The point is to have a strong network in place before you need it!
Professional development and social events offered by a professional association such as CPRS or IABC provide the perfect opportunity to hear from and meet with other PR and communications pros. And with social media the sky’s the limit. Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups present even more opportunities to connect.
Like networking, mentoring is another vital component to professional development. Both CPRS and IABC offer complimentary mentoring programs for students and junior practitioners, matching them with senior professionals in similar fields or industries. When I first joined CPRS almost five years ago I took advantage of the mentoring program and was paired with a senior pro in an industry very similar to mine – a valuable connection I still have today.
At the end of a long, hard day at work the last thing you want to do is… work. Professional associations offer a variety of volunteer experiences – from serving on a Board of Directors to managing professional development events. Volunteering can help you build or brush up on skills you might not be utilizing in your day job. If you’re focused mostly on writing these days why not change it up and help out with an event? Or if you’ve been managing back to back to back client events, sharpen your social media skills by taking the reins of your society’s Twitter account. Not to mention you’ll have the added benefit of building your network and learning from senior PR practitioners along the way.
These are my favorite reasons for being a member of a professional association, but I’ve only just scratched the surface. Are you a member of a professional association like CPRS or IABC? What value you do you get from it?