There are many reasons to join a professional association related to your industry or field of expertise. Some join to build their resume and increase their marketability. Others join to take advantage of professional development and members-only benefits. And still others join to network and connect with other professionals. So after you’ve paid your membership dues, how do you leverage your membership to promote yourself and your business?
In my experience, the key to making the most of your membership in a professional association is involvement. You want to find opportunities to cultivate relationships and alliances within your professional association. By attending events and participating in social mixers, roundtable meetings, and mentoring programs, you have multiple occasions to network and connect with other members. When you meet new members, take advantage of the chance to let them know who you are and what your business does. Ask questions and communicate clearly. And remember to keep in touch with the members you meet by emailing them some information you come across that is relevant to their business or scheduling a time to meet to discuss an idea you have that may be mutually beneficial.
Use the social networking tools that are available through your association to become more involved. Join the LinkedIn group, comment on Facebook posts, and offer to contribute to a blog. Most associations have publications, such as journals or newsletters. Offer to contribute content to those publications. Contact the editor and find out how you can share your expertise on a particular topic. And if you are an expert on a particular subject, find out how you can contribute as a speaker or participate on a panel discussion.
Another great way to become involved is through volunteering. Increase your visibility in the association by volunteering to serve on a committee, task force, or board. Not only will this expose you to more potential contacts for your business, but you will also gain valuable experience and build new skills. If you’re worried about the time commitment, volunteer to assist with a specific event instead of an ongoing role. Or offer to host an event at your place of business or volunteer to sponsor an event. These are great ways to gain exposure for your business.
And if your professional association has an awards program, don’t forget to nominate yourself for an award. This is an often-overlooked approach to promote yourself and highlight your accomplishments. And it’s a great way for you and your business to get mentioned in a press release.