5 Reasons Why You Should Join a Professional Association by Guest Blogger Sydney Arnett, Marketing Specialist, DCA

BLN610 SYDNEY ARNETT webProfessional associations are perhaps one of best untapped resources for career development. Regardless of what industry you’re in, there is likely a plethora of associations, organizations, groups, and societies dedicated to broadening the knowledge base of their members and facilitating communication and growth within their industries.

Over the past several years I have discovered how beneficial it is to be a member of a professional association. From being a college student to a young professional, I have experienced much of the spectrum of how professional associations can aid in career development. I’ve attended workshops, used job boards, social media, stayed up on the latest news by reading publications, participated in webinars, etc.

So, as someone who has taken advantage of many of the services and resources that professional associations provide, I’ve come up with a list of my top 5 reasons you should consider joining one too:

1) Networking: One of the best things about joining a professional association is all of the people you get connected to. Associations provide unparalleled networking opportunities, allowing members to connect with other people in their industry. From peers, to mentors, to industry leaders, professional associations give members instant access to all different types of people in their industry. Also, members shouldn’t forget to attend their professional association’s annual conference, as it will offer them the opportunity to meet and network with the largest gathering of people in their industry.

2) Continued Education: Especially in the Healthcare IT industry (which is constantly evolving) continued education is a must. Fortunately, most professional associations offer their members unlimited opportunities to broaden their industry knowledge. This is typically done through seminars, conferences, workshops, online courses, etc. Also, professional associations usually send out quarterly, if not monthly, newsletters which can help members to stay up on trends and latest industry developments. In addition to newsletters, most associations also provide access to an enormous amount of research information such as case studies, articles, white papers and books written by industry experts.

3) Resume Builder: For recent college graduates with limited work experience, professional associations can be a fabulous resume builder. Being extremely active in the association can possibly help to make up for some of the work experience college graduates may be lacking at this point in their careers. However, even for someone who has a job and isn’t searching for a new one, professional associations can provide members with opportunities to build their resume as well. Examples of how established professionals can build their resume include obtaining leadership positions (e.g. being on a committee or the Board of Directors) and having articles published in the association’s publications.

4) Job Searching: The majority of professional associations have job boards that members can use. Often, members can even submit their resumes so that employers and recruiters can see them when they are searching for new talent. Working at a staffing and consulting firm, I can say for certain that recruiters do look at these websites for resumes! Another reason why joining a professional association can help with job searching is because of the amount of events available to members and the opportunity they offer members to get their name out there in the industry.

5) Save Money: Although it costs money to join most of these associations – they also help you save money! Memberships in many associations include free subscriptions to the association’s publications, discounted prices to events, and not to mention the priceless contacts and relationships you make. Some associations also offer members discounts on CDs, journals, videos/DVDs and other materials.

Additionally, belonging to a professional association isn’t just a good idea for individuals – it can also be useful for employers. Employers can, and should, utilize professional associations for recruiting purposes, business development, networking, continued education for its employees, exhibitor opportunities, visibility, branding, etc.

If you are looking to join a professional association, here are a couple suggestions for the Healthcare IT and the Recruitment industries: Healthcare IT Professional Associations: Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), Professional Association of Healthcare Coding Specialists (PAHCS), and American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). Recruitment Industry Professional Associations: Ohio Recruiters Association (ORA) and National Association of Executive Recruiters (NAER).

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