Friday, August 24, 2012

The Pro's of Professional Organizations

I'm wondering if my readers knew where I lived if they'd send someone over here to conduct a wellness check on me.  After months of continuous blogging I'm strangely silent lately.  No worries, these days I can be easily found under stacks of papers at my desk or tucked away in my studying chair at home desperately trying to retain the volumes of new information I'll need for my upcoming exams.

I really began cramming at the end of July for three tests I will need to complete prior to November.  Two of which are my Illinois Brokers exam and the CPM exams.  I only mention this so you know when I say I'm studying, you know I'm REALLY studying.  And to my credit (not!) I've managed to schedule these exams during the single busiest time of the year for me at work - budget season.  Boy can I time these things or what?!

This week I stepped away from my usual daytime duties and spent the week in a financials class with several of my peers via my local chapter of a professional organization I belong to.  It was only the second time I've taken in class courses this way as I have always been reluctant to take off work  and have instead opted to take the classes either online or via home study.  I realize after this grueling, but deeply satisfying week that this has been a mistake and it's my hope to encourage you to take the time to get involved in your local professional organization even if it takes you away from work for a short time.


Why get involved in a professional organization?

  1. I can say first hand that this week alone I not only met some fantastic people who work not only in my industry but also in the general vicinity.  This is networking 101 folks.  However, being a part of a group that is working together toward a common goal, (ie. passing a very difficult course) draws you closer to each other and creates a tighter network that you and they are more likely to draw upon in the future.  This could be for help with difficult or unusual projects or even lead to future employment opportunities.
  2. Creating and maintaining community adds value to your experience in your discipline and allows you to learn from others and add to your skill set.  Among my peers are people who specialize in different facets of my industry.  By getting to know them better I am gleaning information regarding their experiences and thereby increasing my own knowledge.  This makes me more valuable and allows me to have a broader scope of knowledge with which to draw from day to day.
  3. Expanding your professional network adds credibility to your experience.  After this week I now have more people who have gotten to know me much better in a professional capacity and even though we haven't directly worked together; we have worked together in some respects.  These are now people that can be called upon for recommendations or lend credibility to my resume and with whom I can reciprocate the favor.
  4. As your network grows so does those who are in your network.  I now know more people who I can refer to, call upon for services and who may be sources of opportunities for others within my professional network as well. 
  5. Let's not forget I learned a lot too!  There was quite a bit of information provided to me that would have taken me years to learn on the job.  In the course of a few short days (okay really long and difficult days) I gained years worth of knowledge and experience that I may never have had the opportunity to learn otherwise.

That's all well and good but I don't have the time!

I can hear it already, I've said it a million times myself - but if I can encourage you to make some time for yourself and join and regularly participate in a professional organization I think you will find it as rewarding as I have.  It's worth it! Trust me! If nothing else you will find others who feel your daily pain, but I can most certainly predict that you will leave feeling refreshed and renewed and ready get back to the stacks awaiting you at work.


For those of you who are wondering, I won't know for sure for the next month or so but I'm pretty confident I passed - and yes this is one of the three big tests I needed to do before November! Can I get a whoop-whoop? :)


It's Your Turn:

Do you participate in a local professional organization?  If so how do you like it?  How has it impacted your career development?  Would you recommend others seek out and join an organization too?

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