WHAT ARE PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS?
Professional organizations are groups of people organized around a common professional interest or field of specialization. Membership in a professional organization usually entails paying a membership fee or dues, and quite often there are many levels of membership, usually including a reduced-rate student membership. Most professional organizations offer one or more annual conferences, which members can attend to meet others in the field and improve their skills. Many organizations offer online or in-person seminars and classes to build competency in various aspects of the field. In short, professional organizations offer many opportunities for you to advance in your area of expertise.
HOW PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS CAN HELP YOU
There are several benefits to joining a professional organization. Among them are:
HOW TO FIND WHICH ORGANIZATIONS ARE RIGHT FOR YOU
One thing to consider when deciding which professional organization to join is the size and locality of the organization relative to what you are trying to accomplish. If you are more interested in building a local network, and meeting people in your area who share your field of expertise, you should consider joining a local or regional organization, or choosing a national or international organization with a local branch near you. If you are more interested in information exchanges with luminaries in the field, and taking advantage of training opportunities, then a larger, nationally-based organization may be right for you.
You should also decide in advance how much time you have to devote to an organization before you join. Consider that local memberships will usually demand more time than national/international memberships, and also that the more time you devote to the organization, the more benefits you can expect to garner.
For local organizations, check your local newspaper’s website or your local library. National and international groups will usually have a prominent website, so using Google or other search engines to search for the name of your area of interest will usually yield good results (Curtis, n.d.).