Branding is paramount, especially when it comes to your professional life. It’s about how you want to be perceived in your industry and how you want to be remembered. When joining a professional association, they can help you hone your brand by providing exclusive and valuable experiences, insight, and training in the tools of the trade.
Developing one’s ‘label’ is something that requires effort to formulate perfectly—it’s not something that just happens. Instead, it’s a combination of your appearance, demeanor, credentials, and experiences that help form how people perceive you. Remember, though: your brand is only as valuable as what you can do for clients or potential employers.
Learn how to maximize your exposure and create opportunities by recognizing the link between personal branding and becoming a member of an association within your industry.
Personal Branding Theory
As the world has dramatically changed in recent years, so have the ways that professionals can better identify and market themselves. One area of rapid development is in personal branding theory, which holds that individuals have more conscious control over their futures than previously thought.
Personal branding theory is crucial to modern commerce because it stresses the importance of building one’s brand and using it to pursue more significant career opportunities. Although there are many different platforms for creating it, it’s often most effective to begin by joining and participating in local or national professional organizations.
Creating A Robust Professional Identity
Professional identity is the concept of developing a strong persona that represents you as a seasoned professional and is crucial to your career. A professional identity differentiates you from others in your field, helps establish and protect your brand, and guides you toward areas that are likely to bring success.
Organizations are valuable to career development because they provide context and a unique environment for learning and networking. We learn not only from the association itself but also from those with whom we interact with within. This can include fellow members, guests, or visitors interacting through an event organized by the community and social media interactions.
Visibility, relevance, engagement. These are a few things individuals gain when they join a professional organization. So whether you’re a freelancer looking to bolster your personal brand or fortify your professional portfolio, there’s no better way than by becoming active in an organization.
It’s Not What You Know — It’s Who You Know
Networking is one of the most crucial elements of personal branding. Whether you’re an entrepreneur, small business owner, or corporate executive, joining a professional organization offers exclusive networking opportunities and a chance to gain increased exposure, credibility, and recognition.
Professional organizations act as a launching pad for your brand because the networking activities used for building personal branding involve meeting new people. So when you associate your name with a professional organization, it’s broadcasting your relationship with other successful individuals in related industries.
For example, if you’re a writer and join a literary association, you can connect with people who share your interests and build relationships with them. If they’re interested in the same kinds of projects as you, they may even offer to help you—perhaps they’ll read your latest manuscript or offer advice on how to get published. This will support your professional image by showing your commitment to becoming part of a community that supports writers, which may open up more opportunities for you.
Reputation & Credibility Management
From a job-hunting perspective, it can be highly beneficial to be affiliated with a professional organization. Unfortunately, the benefits of this may not be immediately evident for many students and young professionals, who are either too junior or are so new in their field that an organization would not recognize them for membership. However, an affiliation with a professional organization can have a far-reaching impact on your career.
The value of being associated with a professional organization, from a personal brand standpoint, is more than getting access to the resources they offer. It’s also about the credibility and reputation that come with the association.
People within your industry see your relationship with that professional organization as proof of your commitment to the field. Using the literature and branding of that association in resumes and cover letters shows dedication and professionalism.
By identifying yourself as part of an association—particularly if you hold leadership positions or receive recognition from the community—you are enhancing your reputation and credibility.
Leadership & Visibility Within The Industry
As a member of a professional organization, you can contribute articles to their newsletters or blogs, lead workshops at events, or present your research at conferences. If you have a personal blog, publishing your work on these platforms can be an excellent way to show potential employers what you can do, increasing your brand’s visibility.
Professional associations—like local chapters of national non-profits and regional trade organizations—offer great potential for individuals to improve their professional brand. Joining or leading a professional organization is one of the best ways to take on leadership roles, gain visibility in your community, and even give back to your profession.
We’ve explored the importance of professional organizations as a means for personal branding, but it’s important to remember that these relationships and connections are a two-way street. Professional organizations provide members with networking and visibility opportunities, but at the same time, members can boost the organization’s reputation and visibility by representing it well.
Associations can be a powerful tool in building your identity and brand; however, they are not a substitute for hard work and experience. They offer several benefits you can take advantage of by joining one organization or another—but the key is to make sure that it is the best fit for you, your goals, and what you’d like to gain from it.