Our lives have seemingly gotten busier, and it’s disheartening when I hear that a business colleague has chosen to give up membership in a professional organization because of time pressures. More and more, supervisors are demanding employees perform work that can be directly measured against productivity metrics and project outcomes.
However, while it is harder to define the concrete benefits of an employee’s membership in a trade association, professional organization or service club, that doesn’t mean there isn’t intrinsic value in these activities. What it does mean is that the employee and his or her supervisor should be talking openly about what the employee and the company gain from the membership.
Benjamin Franklin, one of our country’s founding fathers, used a system of decision making based on identifying the Pros and Cons. When looking at a membership’s value, make a list and weigh the benefits against factors such as cost and time.
- Trade and professional organizations
- Shared information about issues and trends within a given industry
- Planned networking opportunities that bring like-minded people together
- Professional development workshops (online and in-person)
- Business development opportunities
- Service clubs and other community groups
- Weekly or monthly in-person networking and relationship building
- Local marketing opportunities (sponsorships, presentations, newsletter advertising, etc.)
- Camaraderie (fundraising, local service projects)
- Leadership skills development
- Time spent away from the office or work tasks
- Cost of membership
When you put it down on paper and have meaningful discussions about what can be achieved through membership, it is easier to recognize how that involvement can help the employee grow professionally, build a larger network and establish relationships that could one day lead to business opportunities. Memberships, especially in professional organizations, can also be a viable alternative to in-house professional development planning.
My memberships in organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America and Rotary have been extremely rewarding both professionally and personally. I am fortunate to have worked for employers who understand the underlying value for me as well as the company.
The leadership at Truscott Rossman supports and encourages our team to take part in professional organizations and to attend industry related events, including panels, seminars, and summits that are geared toward our niche or interests. They recognize the professional development that affiliation provides both internally and to the entire company. I am proud to work for a firm that understands the importance of internal growth.
Over the years, I have cultivated a vast network, gained invaluable skills and formed many lasting friendships. Just as important have been the innumerable times I was afforded the chance to share details about the company I worked with a large audience of relevant stakeholders – information I am confident resulted in a greater understanding of the firm and its services.