Saturday, May 28, 2011

Membership has its Privileges – Why Joining is Essential to Staying in Touch!

In this age when knowledge and information are king and social infrastructure platforms are proliferating, professional membership organizations are becoming even more essential to the progress and professional development of public relations and communications professionals. With credit to American Express, membership does have its privileges and rewards and these days membership organizations are a quick means to building a network.

The fact is the network is the currency of today’s knowledge and wisdom society. A strong network has many benefits that span career advancement, benchmarking, job performance, effective crisis management, on the job problem solving and a myriad of other factors where it pays to have a broad and wide network of people with whom to collaborate and knowledge share.

One other interesting fact to consider, in today's job market, roughly 70% of people who are landing jobs are doing so as a result of their networks. So it is both wise and prudent to have and maintain a network. My recommendation therefore is to look at joining organizations that reflect your professional interests and aspirations. By joining, you have reason and rationale to stay in touch. Here are some thoughts to consider regarding membership organizations and networks.

Membership organizations are one of the best means of developing and building a network. For example, the Public Relations Society of America, with more than 21,000 members, is the world’s largest organization of public relations professionals. Being a member of this type of a membership organization is tantamount to an instant network. And as you engage and get involved with the organization you build networking capital that contributes to awareness of you and your capabilities. Membership also affords the ability to share your vision, career aspirations, professional affiliations and interests.

Institutionalize your network. If you have not already done so, consider using one or more of today's social media platforms like Linkedin or Facebook to “hard wire” your network and those you meet in your membership associations. Employing such platforms is efficient. You never (or rarely) will need to track down the whereabouts of a friend or former colleague. The platform typically is self-regulating and updating. No need to comb the web to find your contact’s latest gig or place in
time. Another benefit is the capability to unobtrusively and instantly communicate your presence and needs.

Networking means both connecting and collaborating with people in person as well as through
other channels like the phone. To insure that folks get to know you well, it is important to meet face to face and not merely Facebook to Facebook. Seeing the “cut of your jib” is an essential means to get folks to know and understand you, witness your character and appreciate what are your abilities and personality. So get out there and meet and greet your fellow members and show them who you are.

Invite every person with whom you come in contact to join your network on your preferred platform. Even if you only met the person once through a meeting or casual encounter, you never know when that one spark will flare up with a remembrance of you, particularly as a potential job candidate.

Reach out and help someone. Networking is a two way street. Networks operate effectively if in
fact you use them to help others as well as to ask for help. Remember the old adage, “It is better give than receive.” There is significant wisdom in that axiom. You just never know when a good deed will be come back to help you.

Go pro bono. If you have time on your hands, use them to help and become a member of a local non-profit. And there likely are several non-profits in your town that could benefit from your experience and abilities. Volunteering is also a great way to build your network.

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