Whether you’re a nurse, software engineer, author, or CEO of a thriving startup, professional organizations are plenty and available within every industry.
Embarking on the journey to find the perfect professional association can be an essential part of advancing your career and fostering personal growth. However, it’s crucial to approach this process with a strategic mindset and due diligence, as the right choice can make a world of difference in your business.
The possibilities are vast, with many associations offering various perks and benefits for businesses and individuals. Some are geared towards academic enrichment, while others are tailored for event-goers and networking. Additionally, some may offer access to online certifications, while others provide the most ROI via member-exclusive discounts on everything from travel amenities to office supplies.
When you sign up to become a member, you’re investing your hard-earned cash and precious time and energy to pursue personal and professional success; therefore, it’s crucial to vet these organizations before making that annual commitment.
In this guide, we’ll arm you with the knowledge and tools to thoroughly vet a professional organization before joining, ensuring you find the perfect match tailored to your unique goals and interests.
Determine Your Personal & Business Goals
What areas does your business need to improve? Are you struggling to meet new people within your industry? Are you interested in advancing your education? These are some of the most frequently asked questions when looking for professional organizations to join.
It’s essential to start your search by determining what you want to accomplish and where you’d like to be in five to ten years. Decide on your short and long-term goals for yourself and your business, and use these elements when vetting a professional association. By identifying your priorities, you’ll be better equipped to find an organization that aligns with your career aspirations and offers the support you need.
Reputation & Accreditation
A professional organization’s reputation is paramount. Start by examining its standing within the industry and among its members. Look for testimonials, reviews, and any accreditation or certifications the organization has received.
Additionally, keep an eye out for dubious endorsements or unresolved complaints. Remember, you’re looking for a trusted organization to support your professional journey, so choosing a reputable and honest community is essential.
Professional associations can earn various accreditations, certifications, or endorsements depending on their field, goals, and the quality of their programs or services. Some of the common accreditations that can be obtained include:
- International Organization for Standardization: ISO offers various certifications for quality management, environmental management, information security, and other standards. Organizations can pursue these certifications to demonstrate their commitment to best practices and continuous improvement.
- Continuing Professional Development Accreditation: Many professional associations offer continuing education courses and academic programs that help members maintain licenses and improve their professional skills. CPD accreditation ensures these courses meet specific quality standards.
- Industry-specific Accreditations: Professional organizations may obtain specific accrediting bodies or certifications depending on the sector. For example, a healthcare organization might seek accreditation from the Joint Commission, while an engineering organization could pursue certification from the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
- Association Management Certifications: The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) offers the Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential for individuals who work in the association management field. This certification indicates a high professional competency and expertise in managing and leading professional organizations.
Read more here for an extensive guide on the Industry’s Top Association Management Companies.
Cost Analysis & ROI
Membership fees vary significantly, so assessing the cost and potential ROI is crucial. Consider the organization’s tangible and intangible benefits, such as access to industry experts, networking events, and savings via member-only discount programs. Weigh these against the membership fees to determine if the investment is worthwhile for your business.
Many professional organizations recognize the diverse needs of their potential members and offer tiered membership options to cater to those varying requirements. These tiered memberships allow individuals to choose a level that best suits their needs, often providing a chance to sample the association’s offerings before fully committing.
This flexible approach enables prospective members to explore the organization’s benefits and services without investing heavily upfront.
Review Organization’s Leadership
Lastly, take a closer look at the organization’s governance and leadership. A well-run professional community should have a clear mission, vision, and a strong leadership team that upholds its values and drives its success.
Review the board’s composition, the organization’s bylaws, and its strategic plan to ensure it aligns with your expectations and has the necessary structure to support your professional growth.
The right organization can hold the secret to uncovering a world of new opportunities and boosting your career. By following these guidelines and assessing the organization’s reputation, benefits, cost, and governance, you’ll be well on your way to selecting the perfect professional home for you and your business.