Professional Associations—Making the Most of Your Affiliation
by Pegine Echevarria
You may be a card carrying member of your association . . . and never attend the meetings. You may have belonged to an association and left it because . . . well, “What’s the point?” you ask yourself. “What have you gained from your membership?” You may be super involved, volunteering for everything, and find yourself losing out on other parts of your life. Or, you have learned how to master your affiliations to make the most of your membership while not losing yourself . . . or have you?
I have been in all four situations and recently I had the chance to reassess my own membership affiliations.
Do I take advantage of networking opportunities?
Do I reach out to other members to discuss and seek career and business advice?
If I do use the resources available, how effective are they?
What do I expect from my affiliation?
Was I clear when I joined?
Am I clear now?
Is this the appropriate organization for me?
What disappointments me? And what part do I play when I don’t achieve the results I want?
Does the association provide value compared to the investment?
Professionally, everyone must develop the following areas in order to succeed and benefit from opportunities:
1- Leadership skills
2- Communication skills
3- Networking skills
4- Our “active” database of contacts
5- Knowledge base within our expertise
How you develop your skills and how you master your skills within your professional associations will determine the opportunities you receive.
By the way, it doesn’t happen overnight. You must patiently master your skills so people notice, reach out and offer the opportunities you deserve.
When you attend meetings seek people you do not know. Look for people who have leadership positions and introduce yourself, ask them how they got involved and how their involvement has helped grow their career.
When you sit at a luncheon table make sure you introduce yourself to everyone. Take responsibility and become the host of the table ensuring that all is well. Why? It gives you a job to do. Other people notice your leadership and you become someone of interest. More people want to know you
Get involved with a committee. It can take a small amount of time and can reap rewards. Follow these guidelines:
•Before you agree to anything review your commitments. If your plate is full, be clear and say, “NO, thank you.” Your reputation is at stake. Too often people want to appease the group by saying, “Yes, I’ll do it.” Then find they are overwhelmed with prior commitments. When in this position people often react with three choices. They either: 1) go back to the group and say they can’t do it 2) do not do a good job or 3) just run away. When this occurs negative reputations develop. If you take any of these actions you will be viewed as person who lacks responsibility, initiative and follow-through.
•Say no when needed.
•Say yes when 1) you know you can follow through 2) you have the chance to work with people that can be instrumental to your growth 3) you are passionate about the project and are committed to positive outcomes and 4) you can serve without making your life dramatically stressed and overwhelmed.
Are you asking for the rewards? You ask for rewards by calling fellow members for advice about your career. Listen to the advice and ask them who else should you call for more information. You ask for rewards by asking fellow members to introduce you to particular members that you would like to meet. You ask for rewards by asking fellow members about how you can improve a particular skill. You ask for rewards by asking members what committee you should participate in and how to manage the tasks effectively.
You can be a mentor to those individuals interested in increasing productivity, increasing their ability to achieve, and increasing their ability to manage and be part of an effective team by forwarding this issue to your staff, co-workers, and business associates.
Call two members of your professional association, who you do not know well and have lunch or breakfast together. Learn why they are members, what they do and how you can help them do it better. Then share your response as to why you are a member, what you do and how they can help you.
Ask your boss how you can use your professional association to become a more valued employee. Listen to their suggestions. Also find out what associations they AND their colleagues belong. Visit their meetings. Take advantage of the educational opportunities associations offer.
Have you laughed today?
Set your timer for 30 seconds right now and have a good belly laugh, the louder the better. It will re-energize you. You will burn calories. You will smile. You will lose the attitude. You will know that you are in charge of your emotions, your outlook and your thoughts.
Magazines describe Pegine as one of the top motivational success and leadership experts with business and team building experience! Her teambuilding and motivational programs are experiential, fun and filled with content. Companies use her to motivate people, develop strong leaders & teams, and increase productivity. For more success, leadership and team building information visit her website at www.pegine.com.