Building a network within our industry or profession is another method of networking. Most industries or professions have at least one professional organization and many have a wide selection organizations who would love to have us as members.
Finding a professional organization where we fit takes some effort. We can get online to do the research and query our peers and advisors for information about their organizations. If there’s a local chapter we can often attend one or several meetings as a guest and consider whether the organization’s purpose and approach works for us.
There are many models for professional organizations. One model is as a business whose purpose is to provide education, training, and certification in a specific field. These organizations work to legitimize the need for the certifications they offer and attract new members who will purchase the training to earn these certifications. They typically have a paid professional staff that facilitates their efforts and produces conferences that are educational and offer networking opportunities for their members.
A second model is used by organizations formed to work on issues that are common to their profession or industry and advance the collective knowledge. They often publish a periodical with articles of interest written by or of interest to their members. Companies who are suppliers to the businesses within the industry, or of interest to the members of the profession, often sponsor annual conferences attended by hundreds of members.
A third model is an organization formed solely to allow their members to network. These run the gamut from meet-ups open to the public to those with memberships limited to specific groups. The costs associated with membership range from a small fee to attend each meeting to an annual fee of six figures for a professionally facilitated meeting of CEO’s or business owners.
Whatever organization we choose we need to determine whether the time and price of participation has value One method is to join an organization for a year and take stock when it’s time to renew to determine if we’ve been interested in actively participating or found reasons not to attend the meetings.
If not, why not? Is it that the organization isn’t a good fit with our goals or interests? Are we at stage in our lives or careers where we can’t or don’t make the time to participate?
If, however, we’ve found a good fit we can renew the membership and continue to look for ways to actively participate and build our network.
Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups. Her next book, The Executive’s Toolbox, will be released in 2017.