Eleven years ago, I participated in the American Bankers Association conference in Denver. It was my first time at a trade show as a vendor, lobbying for visibility and the opportunity to professionally represent my company. It was a five-day whirlwind of lunching, learning and the most powerful networking I had ever experienced up until that time. After returning home from Denver, I was on a euphoric high, and a mission. That face to face opportunity to connect with like-minded marketers, vendors and attendees had changed me and I was hooked!
From that moment on I looked high, low and under each boulder I came upon, for every networking opportunity I could find; I asked everyone from my clients to my coworkers to the world wide web. This research led me to learning that almost every trade show is managed by an entire team dedicated to the success of their organization. These associations offer professional membership opportunities for those working in the field, to join and serve.
I created an outline that I’m excited to share with you. These “5W’s” can be helpful to you to leverage your professional network.
Who: You! You are the perfect candidate and your best advocate for your own professional growth.
What: Joining a professional-based organization as a member has infinite value and provides long-lasting relationships with colleagues and clients and offers growth opportunities and educational advancements. It not only connects you to experts and like-minded individuals within your professional space but gives you the capabilities to reach out to these fellow members, in times of need.
Where: You can look for memberships at the local, regional and national levels. There are plenty of resources out there for you to reach out to, but it can be confusing at times and that’s where Chartwell Agency can save you time and stress by picking this strategic maneuver off your plate and finding the most powerful/beneficial memberships for you, and your entire team, to join.
When: At any point along your career path. There is no right or wrong answer here, yet I was advised to call the conference directors or membership department of each trade shows association that I annually attend and inquire about membership opportunities. I’d also recommend reaching out to the clients you serve. They have the inside scoop, access to top-level decision makers that hold professional membership titles and will consider your outreach an honor.
Why: The connections you make by joining professional memberships can provide tools to which you otherwise would not have access. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been able to find the answers I needed in order to help a client or complete a project by reaching out to other members.
Why not? You have nothing to lose but a chance to learn and grow. In fact, here is a list of gains:
- Advertising (free or paid)
- Discounted travel
- Discounted schooling
- Meaningful relationships
I have found these memberships pivotal to my career and I stumbled upon an added benefit that I had not expected—personal growth. The growth I have experienced as a mother, career woman and friend, has been the most rewarding benefit of all.
-Kelly Hellickson, Director, Business Development