How to use professional memberships to build networks, visibility and credibility

One strand of career advice about how to manage your career is to belong to professional associations in your field. If you work in a particular profession then it is wise to show you are serious by belonging to the relevant professional body. Such membership may be mandatory or at least essential for maintaining professional status and staying current through professional development.

Belonging is the basic level of membership. To gain a greater benefit in terms of your career, there are many options available that will help build networks so you can tap information, spot opportunities and gain people who can speak on your behalf; build visibility so that colleagues have heard of you, may seek you out, and know that you are a person who ‘knows their stuff’, in short, is credible.

How can you do this? Here are 14 ideas:

  1. Be an active participant. When you attend functions and professional development events mix and mingle so you meet people. You will need to have some conversational skills to do this well, and be comfortable introducing yourself.
  2. Be a host at functions. Be a meeter and greeter, welcome new members, help out on the registration desk. Make people feel comfortable by talking to those who are along.
  3. Write articles. Most professional associations have magazines and newsletters. Write well written articles on relevant topics that provide members with useful information.
  4. Be active on social media. Contribute thoughtful insights to social media discussions. Draw members attention to new material and ideas.
  5. Serve on committees. Each member should take their turn at serving on local and national committees. Such experience gives access to information and helps build networks as well as skills in management and leadership.
  6. Lead professional development workshops. Use you training and teaching skills to pass on information to members.
  7. Attend conferences. Conferences are an opportunity to meet members, renew connections, learn current thinking, gain practical ideas.
  8. Contribute to conferences. A conference program is an exclusive set of opportunities. Make the effort and prepare well.
  9. Start, run or participate in special interest groups. Memberships are diverse. There may be specific areas of interest that appeal to a sizeable group of members.
  10. Nominate for awards. You may know members who deserve recognition for their work. Nominate them for awards. You may even wish to nominate yourself for an award.
  11. Respond to requests for information. When members are invited to offer their view take this opportunity to provide considered, practical, relevant information.
  12. Keep your records current. If you need to record professional development points in order to stay professionally current, then make sure you do.
  13. Seek higher accreditation. If your association offers a range of membership classifications, find out what the requirements are and work towards a higher grade.
  14. Offer to help. If you see opportunities to help your association, such as writing resources or website material, offer your services.
Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.