Were you ever part of those clubs back in high school – jamming to The Beatles with a band after class or acting your heart out in your local high school’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet? Fortunately, as an adult, you don’t have to venture too far to attain that feeling of joy and togetherness. All you have to do is join an association. Think of high school clubs but for grown-ups! These enable you to connect with other like-minded individuals, allowing you to meet other professionals and consultants to take you further in your career.
Are you interested in connecting with others who share your interests, goals, or profession? Joining an association might be just what you need. But what exactly is an association?
An association is typically a group of people who come together for a common purpose or interest. It can be formed by individuals, companies, or organizations and often has a structure that includes leadership roles and governance processes. Associations can range from small local groups to large international organizations with thousands of members. They offer a variety of benefits such as networking opportunities, access to resources and knowledge-sharing platforms, advocacy efforts on behalf of their members, and social events.
But with so many associations to choose, it can get a little overwhelming to choose the right one for you. A few examples from one industry alone are; National Restaurant Association, The International Food and Beverage Technology Association, The Independent Restaurant Coalition, and American Culinary Federation. Sometimes, you can’t just erase the thought, “what if I choose an association that isn’t right for me?” In this article, we’ll show you how you can pick the association that’s a perfect fit for you.
Why Should You Join an Association?
First, why should anyone join an association? If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut in your career, involving yourself in an association might help turn the tides and take your career to the next level.
You expand your horizons in the industry by being exposed to new individuals with different worldviews. Also, you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments in your field of work. This is especially crucial for industries with ever-changing regulations, like cannabis dispensaries. And in some cases, you might even gain access to educational resources to guide you in the learning process.
How to Choose an Association That Aligns With Your Goals
Not all associations will have what you’re looking for. Here’s how you can ensure that you choose the right one.
Do Your Research
First things first: how do you join an organization? The answer’s quite simple. Do your research! While a simple Google search might yield the results you’re looking for, it helps to take things further than just a skim through their web page. Check their history, look into the values they embody, and read their mission and vision as an association. If it seems to tick all the right boxes, then that’s a good start.
Then take a look at their socials and observe: who are the people associated with them? Are they filled with professionals from the same industry? Are the activities they partake in aligned with the goals of the organization? And if, by chance, you know anyone from an association you’re eyeing, ask them about their experiences. From all of this information, you can easily decide if the association is a good fit for you.
Check the Membership Conditions
Let’s say you’ve narrowed down your list – now what? Perhaps it’s time to check the membership conditions. Some associations require an annual fee, while some may not even charge you a dime. And before you’re willing to jump the gun and register, ask yourself if the value provided is worth the investment.
Review Their Offerings
Especially if you’re looking to widen your perspectives and fill some knowledge gaps, check out what each association has to offer. For example, Association A offers paid webinars while Association B hosts conferences and other meet-ups. We all have different preferences when it comes to our learning styles, so pick the association that suits you the most in this regard.
Share Your Knowledge
Joining an association isn’t a one-way street where you only benefit from the organization’s resources – it must benefit from you, too. Seize opportunities to share your knowledge with other industry professionals; if you end up liking the association, you might even get to take leadership roles!
Evaluate Their Presence
If you want to find an association that’s compatible with you, be sure to evaluate their presence – both online and offline. For example, are they actively participating in other relevant industry-related events? How is their social media presence? And if the information on some members is publicly available, check if their members are professionals that you’d like to work with.
Verify Its Legitimacy
Even after doing all that research, some things (especially online) are not exactly what they purport themselves to be. The same goes for associations. For example, if they claim to be a non-profit organization, you can verify it through online directories. Another way is to check their physical address and contact details – although this can sometimes be falsified.
Choosing an association doesn’t have to be rocket science. You just need to know what to look for, then do some research to determine if it aligns with your goals. For example, you might be looking for an association that boasts a wealth of educational resources while another one might offer you better connections in the industry due to its large number of members. We all join associations for different reasons – at the end of the day, it all boils down to knowing what you want.
Looking for business community and professional business support beyond association membership?
On Cansulta, we believe no business leader should have to face any challenge alone. Our online platform lets you find and collaborate with vetted consultants in minutes, and at a fraction of the cost of traditional firms.