Friday, January 11, 2013

It's time to renew your membership

We're all a part of some kind of organization, a club, or a rewards member of some sort. Once a year, we receive a letter or email asking to renew our membership agreement. We pay the fee required and BAM, just like that we are a part of a group.

Whether it be a fitness facility, a book club, or a professional association, the basic rules are: you pay the fee, you're in. But what if you don't know what you want to 'buy' into? There are so many associations, clubs, and programs out there, how do you know which one is best for you?
Renewing may require you to rethink your memberships more strategically. How do you choose?

Before joining any association, there are a few factors to consider. To save some time, let's talk about professional associations for business communicators and marketers, otherwise, this post would be endless.
This is where your research skills will come in handy. Find out who they are, the history of the organization, and how many events they hold. Most organizations, such as the Public Relations Society of Manitoba (CPRS), will host one networking event and one luncheon every month. It is not necessary to attend all the events; which is where my next point comes in. Does the organization align with your future goals and aspirations?

Do they offer accreditation?
Do they offer seminars?

How often do they send you newsletters?
These are all important questions you need to ask a volunteer of the association, if you don't find the answers on their website.

In Public Relations and Marketing, we constantly have to be up to date on the current trends and up and coming social media platforms, among other things. Take a look at the seminars offered through the association, they're a good tool for your professional development.
On a side note: If you're a freelancer, it may be difficult to acquire clients within these associations. The problem is, you're surrounded with like-minded people who are always open to working for the next big event.

What do you do if this is the case?
Expand your horizons. Find memberships outside of your professional association such as the local Chambersof Commerce which hosts regular networking events. This will allow you to expand your professional connections and build relationships with individuals and businesses that don't have the PR knowledge that you have.

These associations are typically national associations with a chapter in your province, so you are not limited within the borders of your province.
Other things you may want to consider are volunteering and employment opportunities. Most are volunteer-run so there are plenty of opportunities for you to contribute, gain some experience, and get your name out there.

Regardless of the association that you choose, become involved and inform yourself to determine if what they are offering aligns with your professional goals.

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