If you could join a group that would offer you opportunities to learn and grow in your industry and to meet other small business professionals, would you do it?
As a small business owner, you should consider joining a professional organization. By definition, a professional association is a group that brings together people with an interest in advancing in a particular occupation or field. These groups usually operate on a national level, with regional, state or city chapters that offer meetings on a regular basis. Often there is a membership fee to join.
Now, you may be thinking, “I don’t have enough time to attend a meeting,” but after you consider the benefits of joining a professional group, you will see that it is important that you make the time. Here are the five reasons why you should join a professional organization.
When you join a professional organization, you gain access to people in all facets of your industry. If you attend a meeting or a conference, you will meet people who can do what you do and can provide you with valuable information and insights.
You can support other members by sharing ideas, information and services. These contacts become valuable if you are looking to hire staff or if you decide to make a job switch yourself. As you attend meetings and participate in various forums and chat groups, you will grow your network of colleagues. Depending on your experience, you will have the opportunity to serve as a mentor or to be mentored by someone else in your field.
Another benefit of joining a professional organization is the educational opportunities they offer. Most organizations offer monthly meetings with featured speakers, as well as courses, seminars and lectures to help members stay on top of industry trends.
Some of these opportunities involve face-to-face interactions, some are in print form (such as a trade journal, magazine or newsletter) and some are available online through videos and webinars. Some professional organizations offer classes to help you gain further training or certification for your business.
As you become involved in the organization, you may take on leadership roles on committees or even in the overall organization itself. These opportunities will help you grow both personally and professionally.
Your leadership experience may help you get more involved in your community. For example, many organizations have initiatives to support community events and local non-profit groups.
Active participation in a professional organization can result in lifelong friendships. You will meet and get to know people with whom you have a lot in common.
Professional groups often schedule fun events that offer you the chance to just get to know each other in a relaxed setting.
Exclusive Services and Benefits
Another perk of being the member of a professional organization is the benefits it can offer. You will gain access to research and resources that you need to get ahead in your business.
You may also be eligible for discount services and exclusive deals relevant to your industry. These can include travel, shopping and healthcare deals that are available for members.
You also can gain trust by letting your customers knows you are a member of a professional organization. By prominently displaying your membership on your website and your publicity materials, it lets people know you are a leader in your industry.
Convinced? Now you may be wondering what organization to join. A good place to start is with an online search for organizations in your industry. Almost all fields have one or more professional organizations dedicated to it.
Here are a few other ideas to help you get started.
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a nonprofit organization that provides small-business counseling. More than 13,000 volunteers offer free advice and mentoring through email, phone and face-to-face consultations. https://www.score.org/.
- The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global, not-for-profit networking group of more than 8,000 business owners that helps entrepreneurs learn from one another. https://www.eonetwork.org/.
- With about 350,000 members, the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) provides discounts, networking opportunities, online groups and state and federal lobbying for small business owners. http://www.nfib.com/.
- Small Business Development Centers. This group, founded in 1953, offers seminars and training to help with such concerns as human resources, financial planning, disaster planning and legal and compliance issues. http://americassbdc.org/.
- The U.S Chamber of Commerce represents the interests of small and large businesses. More than 96 percent of its members are business owners less than 100 employees. Your local Chamber of Commerce is an excellent resource for growing your business in your community. Most local Chambers host monthly meetings that offer seminars and other networking events. https://www.uschamber.com.
Here’s a final note. Like most things in life, you will get out of a professional organization what you put into it. In order to gain the most benefit, you will need to participate and share in your group’s events. After you get involved, you may find that joining a professional organization was one of the best career moves you have made so far.