Are Associations Still Relevant in a Digital World?
DeLaine Bender CAE
September 27, 2023
Joining with professional colleagues in an association setting is a tried-and-true method to enhance your career, hone your skills, and build your network. But with all the online resources at our fingertips, is that still true today?
As a career association executive, I’m admittedly biased. But from my observations of AMR’s more than 25 full-service clients, and my own experience as a member of the American Society of Association Executives, my answer is absolutely.
At AMR, we believe we are Helping Associations Change The World, every day. We believe in the power of associations, and understand they have major areas of impact even beyond their membership.
Through your association, you can:
1 Have a Voice in Your Industry/Profession
Associations can influence government policies, promote ethical standards, and provide a unified voice for a profession or industry. As demonstrated by our client, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, associations can provide federal policymakers with insights and provide expert recommendations on complex issues. NASCIO develops an annual list of federal advocacy priorities and builds calls to action, policy briefs, and legislative alerts around these priorities for members’ use.
2 Launch Your Career or Find Your Next Opportunity
Associations can elevate the next generation of professionals and provide career transition support in times of job changes, downsizing, or industry shifts. For example, the Association of Women Surgeons provides a mentorship match program, an online career center, and publishes the AWS Pocket Mentor manual for surgical interns and residents.
3 Expand Your Skillset and Knowledge Base
Because of their unique understanding of your industry/profession, associations can provide highly pertinent resources—such as demographic reports, research papers, training programs, publications, textbooks, research grants, scholarships, webinars, and educational events—unavailable elsewhere, as well as certifications that increase your marketability. For example, our client the Academy of Communication in Healthcare offers an extensive portfolio of training, ranging from conferences, to an informal interactive discussion series called Coffee Conversations, to the more structured Healthcare Relationship-Centered Skills series of evidence-based workshops delivered by ACH faculty.
4 Find Your People
Just as important, associations provide a sense of belonging and support for professionals. More often than not, members rank networking as the top reason they join and renew their memberships year after year.
Through your association, you can connect with others and access platforms for discussing challenges, sharing perspectives, and seeking advice. The same rings true from an employer’s perspective. Many companies see association membership as a sign of commitment to the field and understand they benefit from employees’ participation and resources. For proof, check out the testimonials page from our client, the CPA Firm Management Association.
Joining an association or professional society is an investment in yourself—and a fairly affordable one at that! Whatever your industry and wherever you are in your career, you can find benefits. While the specific relevance and impact areas may vary depending on the industry or field, your association can deliver value to you and your employer in key areas, including networking, education, advocacy, career development, and a sense of community.
Sounds like money well spent!
About AMR Management Services
If your professional society or trade association could benefit from skilled professional management support, AMR Management Services is here to help. We are an accredited, full-service association management firm supporting national and international associations clients of all sizes. Contact AMR to learn more about how we can help you take your association to the next level.
Degrees and Credentials:
Certified Association Executive (CAE), Bachelor of Arts in Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Oklahoma
Association Management Professional Since:
What inspires you about your work?
In my career, I have been blessed to work with some amazing, inspiring association leaders, who have become mentors and friends. I also enjoy the challenging, ever-changing environment of associations, and the sense of fulfillment in having made a difference in a profession or on an issue.
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