The first association I joined was the student chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, the PRSSA, primarily because Al Walker offered extra credit for my journalism class at NIU. While I may not have appreciated it at first, it is here where I built a strong foundation and friendships that I’ve drawn on throughout my career.
There are many reasons to join an association, and there are many for marketing and creative professionals to choose from. The key common thread they offer is a forum to interact with peers facing similar business challenges, and most importantly, an opportunity to further your personal and professional development.
Regardless of the stage you are at – from young professional to mid management, or even if you’ve reached the pinnacle of your profession, there is a wealth of benefits to tap into by not just joining, but actively participating in one or several groups.
Sure there are the tangible benefits of educational programs, access to thought leadership articles, access to member directories, subscriptions to trade publications and the like. But if you talk to long-time members and association leaders, there are far richer rewards and reasons to believe:
- Build a trusted peer-to-peer network to call on to help navigate a particular issue
- Exposure to best practices to benchmark what other companies are doing and spark new ideas for your organization
- Stretch your marketing skills as a speaker or committee volunteer, take on challenges outside your comfort zone or current work responsibilities
- Surround yourself with smart, savvy peers to inspire and encourage your own and your team’s creativity
- Be an industry insider and uncover new career opportunities that may be right for you
- Be a mentor – you’ll not only feel good, you’ll likely learn a few things right back!
We are fortunate to be part of a community of communicators, so perhaps one of the best perks I cherish through my involvement is the fun and lasting friendships gained along the way.
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Margaret Essary is Director, Business Development of Paladin and is an active member of several associations, including the Business Marketing Association, the American Marketing Association, and the Chicago Association of Direct Marketing.