I know as busy professionals we all sit around thinking, “Wow, I have so much free time. What else could I get involved in?” Well, maybe not, but one place I’ll always advocate is worth the investment is professional organizations. Here are my three tips on getting involved:
It’s one thing to say you’re a member of such-and-such organization, but you’ll never see any dividends if you just sit back and watch the action. I’ve been a member of Cincinnati PRSA for 10 years, and I’ve been honored to be involved in several different capacities. It’s given me opportunities to forge friendships, meet mentors, network – even land jobs through those contacts – learn from colleagues, and just have some fun.
I highly recommend that any professional, new or seasoned, look for areas of interest in their respective professional organizations. It can be as simple as just attending an event and talking with fellow members, or joining a committee – even leading that committee. Professional organizations are always excited to have members get involved. They won’t ever turn you away!
I know. Networking can be horrible. It’s uncomfortable. You never know what to say or do. But reality is it can be an important part of your career. I’ve been extremely fortunate to get to know some amazingly brilliant people by networking, and many quickly became more than just a contact. These are the people I go see first at events, the ones I always call with questions or make time for lunch and – luckily for me – one I now get to call “boss.”
The best advice I’ve received about networking was don’t just reach out to people because you want something. Keep that line open: Forward articles you think someone may be interested in; congratulate them when you see them, or their work, in the news; drop them a line just to say “hi.” Remember that you’re there to learn from them, and that a one-sided relationship can get old fast. Looking for more networking tips? Here’s a great article on treating networking like dating.
3. ####Go outside your comfort zone
If you are already a member of a professional organization, I’d challenge you to stretch yourself. As public relations and marketing professionals, opportunities abound to attend a seminar, get a new certificate or accreditation in your field, talk to a college class or even just volunteer your time and skills with an organization important to you.
Tell me – how do you get involved in your profession? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter via @IntrinzicSays.