Since January we have been exploring building your career road map. Last month we discussed the value of forming your own professional board of directors and using your professional network to find mentors and sponsors. Trade association membership can help in achieving your goals in a number of ways. This month we will explore membership a bit more closely.
Are you looking for prospective candidates for your board of directors? Almost all associations have monthly meetings and member only events. Whether you choose an affinity group such as the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) or a specialty group like the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), you will grow your network exponentially just by attending meetings. Attend meetings with the goal of meeting one or two members each time, exchange business cards and explore mutual contacts and interests. After the meeting be sure to follow up with an invitation to connect on LinkedIn and or perhaps schedule a coffee to get to know them better.
Are you looking to enhance your leadership skills? Associations are a great place to hold an office, chair a committee, or lead a project. You will be able to practice influencing others, teamwork and collaboration and time management; skills that will benefit you in your day job as well.
Are you looking for professional development? Educational offerings are another benefit of associations, in many cases such as with the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA), certifications can be earned. This is also the case with the US Green Building Council (USGBC). Most associations offer ongoing courses such as workshops and seminars, which may fit into your career development plan. These courses are often at no cost or discounted for members.
Additionally, learning more about the industry as a whole, such as understanding the role of political advocacy can benefit your long-term career plans particularly if you have an interest in Business Development. The Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc (ABC), the Association of General Contractors (AGC) and the Women Construction Executives and Owners (WCOE) all maintain advocacy committees and many even have lobbyists on staff.
With the number and variety of organizations, it is important to determine what you want to get out of membership and then focus on a select one or two associations to join. This will make it more likely that you will actively participate, which is where you gain the most benefit. The skills and confidence you gain through an active role in your association is a win – win for you and your employer. And who knows, you may even make a new friend or two!
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