Goal Clarity is Essential When Choosing Professional Organizations

Professional Organizations and Associations are another place to build your referral or client network.  A clear goal, the right organization and smart participation can make your time and/or monetary investment worthwhile.  Most industries or professions have at least one professional organization and many have a wide selection of organizations who would love to have you as a member.

Finding the professional organization where you fit best is worth the effort.  Be clear about your goal and about what each type of group can offer you.  Organizations in your own industry are a source of referrals and can provide continuing education and social opportunities.  Organizations that serve your target clients offer opportunities for you to share your expertise and increase your visibility.  Being generous with your expertise is a great way to develop new client relationships.

Models of Professional Organization

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 to 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.

Due Diligence Before Choosing Professional Organizations

Do your research.  Check online and with peers and advisors for information about their organizations.  If there’s a local chapter, attend one or several meetings as a guest to consider whether the organization’s purpose and approach works for you.

Before you join an organization be clear about you goal so you can determine whether the time and price of participation has value. Once you join, create the most value for yourself and others by putting energy into participating and being generous with your expertise.   Your network will be stronger in return.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Fernandina Beach, Florida and Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups. 

Published by Leah Ward-Lee

Leah Ward-Lee, the author of "$1,000 Start-Ups", is a serial micro-entrepreneur. She opened her first business at ten after lobbying for and receiving a shoe shine kit for Christmas. She pulled her wagon through the neighborhood, going door-to-door, offering to shine her neighbor’s shoes for twenty-five cents a pair. Once her wagon was full, she took the shoes home and polished them. Unfortunately that business was short-lived. She hadn’t tagged the shoes and couldn’t remember whose shoes were whose, so her dad went with her to retrace the route until every pair was returned. Since then she’s had businesses developing and teaching college courses, instructing aerobic classes, owning half a plane that was rented to a flight and maintenance school, and renting homes. She’s also owned a consignment store, a gift shop, a gift basket business, a consulting firm, hosted The Executive Toolbox (a weekly radio show), and a publishing company. She also spent twenty years in the US Army, served as the Chief Information and Technical Officer for two major insurance companies, and has a second career as a management consultant. Leah resides in Dallas, TX and on Amelia Island with Sammy and Goliath, her two rescue dogs.

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