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Why Do People Join Professional Organizations?
Professional organizations exist for nearly every industry, occupation and area of interest. Many offer attractive, members-only benefits and have regional, state and national chapters available to join. Although some people join professional organizations to take advantage of benefits, most people align themselves with one or more professional organizations to fulfill career-related goals.
Most professional organizations offer both in-person and virtual opportunities for career and business-related networking -- a key draw for many professionals. Meetings, conferences and forums -- important for both young professionals and industry experts -- provide chances to get the latest career and industry-related information, share ideas and ask for or give advice. For young professionals, building good networking relationships is vital to finding hidden job opportunities and furthering a budding career. For seasoned professionals, networking provides opportunities to give back by mentoring, speaking or chairing a committee.
Ongoing Training Opportunities
Access to free or reduced-cost training -- a common members-only benefit -- convinces many people to join professional organizations. Professional development training includes industry-accredited training courses required to fulfill continuing education requirements, training for certifications that enhance job opportunities and optional training that focuses on developing specific skills. Journal, magazine and newsletter publications sponsored by professional organizations provide opportunities for members to learn what’s going on in their fields and establish or enhance a reputation as an industry expert by writing articles.
Options for Students
Many professional organizations support students and young professionals just starting out in the field. High school and college students often join to qualify for scholarship opportunities and to gain access to members-only research and information. College graduates might join a professional organization simply because it looks good on a resume. Professional organizations most often establish strict prerequisites for joining and some have expensive annual membership dues. However, many offer reduced-price junior or associate memberships to encourage students and new graduates to join. Junior and associate memberships typically offer networking, education and training opportunities. However, they don’t always include the full range of benefits, such as voting privileges and discounts on products and services that full members enjoy.
Industry Advocacy and Support
Some people join professional organizations to support industry principles and advocacy concerns. For example, many organizations have bylaws and an ethics policy that sets industry-wide expectations for business practices and policies. Most work as advocates -- either for or against -- pending and existing government policies. In addition, many organizations encourage members to organize and take part in volunteer efforts to benefit communities and help them deal with issues and crises that affect their quality of life, according to the website for the American Society of Association Executives.
Based in Green Bay, Wisc., Jackie Lohrey has been writing professionally since 2009. In addition to writing web content and training manuals for small business clients and nonprofit organizations, including ERA Realtors and the Bay Area Humane Society, Lohrey also works as a finance data analyst for a global business outsourcing company.