Have you considered joining an association in your field? I think it is time you do. Belonging to an association is one of the smartest career moves that you will ever make.
Associations around the world exist for just about every form of vocation. Be it education, nursing, photography, marketing, medicine, law, et cetera. Online freelancing being no exception.
Despite being a leading country in terms of freelancing online, Kenya has for the longest time lacked an association for online workers.
Reasons Why You Should Join an Association
Joining an association bestows members with a competitive edge as they become not only active but also informed members of their particular industry.
- Associations create a bond between members as they campaign for their peers while sharing their triumphs and challenges with one another.
- Associations act as a platform where members can get briefs on important issues such as new legislative rulings, industry trends and technological advancements. This is especially helpful to members with busy professional lives.
How are Associations Staffed and Governed?
It is worth noting that the power of the associations solely lies in the participation of like-minded people working towards achieving common goals. This is usually done through the contribution of expertise, insight, time and passion of the volunteers.
A board of directors govern the association. They set the strategic direction for the association while ensuring that the association is compliant with the law.
Just like with any other membership, you actually get what you put into it. It is therefore advisable to be as involved as you can in the association’s activities so as to reap the benefits offered to you as a member.
Advantages of Joining an Association
Being a member of a professional association helps establish legitimacy especially when you are starting out in your field. This is especially true for freelancers as they usually lack a professional umbrella of a renowned company name or employer.
Joining a professional association gives you a degree of respect especially when applying for jobs or even when presenting your credentials to potential clients.
Associations act as stepping stones into more job opportunities. Having access to an association’s database of available jobs can mean that you get to learn about new job opportunities even before they are officially posted.
Taking up responsibilities within your professional association can also add points to your resume, hence making you even more viable as a job candidate.
Other than helping you to enhance your professional relationships, associations also allow you to have a sense of trust, belonging and security.
Due to the numerous events that associations hold throughout the year, you get an opportunity to connect with your peers, thus enabling you to help and support one another in attaining your professional goals.
This also gives you a chance to not only know your colleagues well, but it also gives you a chance to build relationships with mentors while interacting with competitors.
Wide Range of Knowledge
Most associations are known to provide great amount of access to information such as articles, case studies, white papers and even books written by experts in your field.
Members also get to enjoy privileges such as access to magazines, major journals and newsletters.
Associations also provide information on diverse issues. Regardless of your profession, staying on top of all these issues is equally important.
Mentorship is one of the greatest benefits that you can reap from joining a professional association.
Mentorship not only gives you the opportunity to learn more about your profession by engaging a person who has been in the field for long, but it also gives you a chance to give back by sharing your expertise and knowledge with someone new in the field.
Nothing beats the idea of paying money to some self- proclaimed expert than these authentic mentoring relationships.
Many associations also offer a lot of career resources such as tips on how to write effective cover letters and resumes, negotiating skills and even job hunting strategies.
You will also find that some associations usually have experts panels that you can always contact for specific questions regarding your career.
Joining an association also gives you other benefits such as information about trainings, certification classes and seminars that could be beneficial to you.
The ability to support the association’s mission and the possibility of influencing legislation that affects your industry is another benefit of belonging to an association.
Combined resources of members of an association can be effective in swaying the public’s opinion in a positive way thus meeting the association’s goals.
It is a fact that the government is increasing the level of regulations in most industries. Having an association is a necessity for the survival of any business in any field.
By joining a professional association, you get to learn about the greatest and the latest trends in your field.
This is because, professional associations typically set the industry standards while pushing the limits of their field.
Attending meetings and reading through the association’s publications can be a total game changer for you.
Some professional associations do sometimes offer scholarships, grants and other financial resources to its members.
Through the award of these resource, financial and mentorship awards, you can be able to fund your research projects.
Winning these awards can also assist you in pursuing preferred projects related to your profession or even pay for that additional training.
Remember, including your grant award or any other recognition in your resume can go a long way in enhancing your marketability.
Cons of belonging in an association
Although belonging to an association has slight drawbacks such as;
- Fulfilling responsibilities such as voting
- Paying membership fees
- Having to volunteer despite having a busy professional life, the benefits of joining an association far outweighs them.
So, whether you are looking to find new job opportunities in your field, gain access to emerging events in your field, expand your network or just to have fun while socializing with like-minded people, joining a professional association is definitely your first step into the right direction.