Tuesday, October 5, 2010

How To Get The Most From Your Professional Association Membership

Like many people in marketing, you may belong to one or more professional associations. These groups strive to provide benefits through a variety of initiatives and can be great resources for keeping up in your industry and gaining a competitive edge. But are you getting the most possible value from your membership dues? Here are some simple tips for taking advantage of all your association has to offer.

1) Join an association that’s appropriate for your needs
If you’re shopping around, start by choosing an association that’s best suited to your interests and professional development goals. Think about your industry, marketing specialty, and what you’d like to gain from your membership. Are you looking for broad knowledge or a narrow focus? The wealth of local organizations includes associations covering all aspects of marketing and communications, those focused on advertising, interactive marketing, direct marketing, or public relations, and even associations dedicated to specific industries like health care or law.

2) Attend events
Most local associations offer a full calendar of programs on a range of topics sure to appeal to any interest—from branding to research to social media. Many events are included in the cost of membership and offer a mix of networking and education. Events are held in the morning, at lunch, and in the evening at locations through the Twin Cities, accommodating almost any schedule. As Ben Wallace, MIMA Membership Director notes, “The mix of face-to-face discussions, program content, food and the live event dynamics are worth trying to slot the time into your schedule.” Can’t make it to an event? Not to worry, many events feature Twitter posts and live video or post-event materials such as slide decks, photo galleries, Podcasts, and videos.

3) Connect on social media
In addition to face-to-face opportunities for engagement, many professional marketing associations also have a presence on a variety of social media channels. Join your association’s LinkedIn Group, Like them on Facebook, subscribe to their YouTube channel, and start following them on Twitter. Contribute to insightful discussions, check out upcoming events, and get advice from chapter leaders. Or browse around to see who else is a member and reach out to those who might have something to share.

4) Volunteer
Current volunteers will tell you that this is one of the best ways to get extra value from your chapter membership. Meet talented professionals, grow your networking connections, build your skill-set, or even land a new job. MN AMA volunteer Laura Kalies shares, “Volunteering provided new opportunities to build relationships with more marketing professionals. I met a partner at Sight Marketing through my SIG Healthcare & Market Research Committee—a connection that eventually led to the opportunity to accept a position!” Plus, some organizations offer discounted event passes and other perks to their most dedicated volunteers.

5) Utilize member resources
Sign up for complimentary e-newsletters, print publications, Webcasts, and Podcasts to keep up on industry trends and happenings, look over job postings and career tips, and learn about upcoming events. Some associations also offer free online resources like articles and white papers, or member directories searchable by company, speciality, or industry. Amanda Broman, MWMC Marketing Chair, offers this suggestion: “Take advantage of the member perks like the MWMC member directory and Member-to-Member newsletter, where you can learn more about other members and who would be a great person to connect with at events.”

These are just a few ideas and examples to get you started. Reach out to your association’s membership team to learn how you can maximize your involvement!

How have you found value in your professional memberships? Share your thoughts and success stories here.

Jen Hanson works in Marketing Communications at a medical device company. She also volunteers with MN AMA as a Communications Manager and Online Community Manager on the Membership and Social Media committees. Jen can be reached at jen.hanson@comcast.net.

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Dianne said...


Kevin Beamer said...

As a marketing or PR practitioner, there are a lot of things to be done to be known and to strengthen your connections with people on the same field, and of course with clients and possible clients. One of the stronger tools now in marketing yourself is being seen in the social networking world. You have to know how to market yourself for the clients to believe in your expertise. With such expertise your contractor leads surely the ranking of its business line.

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