Updated: Sep 21, 2019
Have you ever considered joining a Professional Association? How about a Friendly Organisation? Do you know what they are and how you can benefit from them?
What are they?
Professional associations are organisations made up of people in the same profession and are formed mainly to regulate entry into the profession, maintain standards, and represent the profession at various discussions. Examples of a few professional associations are: Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Chartered Institute of Marketers (CIM), Institute of Directors (IOD).
Friendly organisations are organisations made up of a body of people who come together for a common financial or social purpose. Organisations such as Rotary International, Lions Club, AIESEC, Toastmasters, YPO, African Leadership Network, all come to mind.
How can you benefit?
As a member of several professional and friendly associations myself - ACCA, African Leadership Network, American Chamber of Commerce to name a few, I have realised many benefits which have enriched my career and personal development and which I believe could enrich yours as well. How? See below for more details:
1. Learn about new developments in your profession. This is especially important when you are an entrepreneur and may not have access to regular structured training programs. As a member of ACCA, for example, I benefit from all their publications, industry trend reports, conferences, free and paid training programs, and also job advertisements. In the event that I am unemployed, an entrepreneur or working in a job unrelated to my professional training, I can count on ACCA to provide the much needed professional support I require.
2. Meet new people: Imagine meeting people who you may not know much about, but are bound by your common membership in a professional or friendly organisation? It's much the same as our affiliations to our schools and universities (especially in Ghana). These people are open to talking to you and giving you access to a network of
like-minded individuals. What you do with that network, is another story all together!
3. Get introduced to new opportunities: Closely connected to point 2 above, are the opportunities that come through meeting new people. Business opportunities, funding opportunities and various others can all arise out of being part of these organisations. Also, there some opportunities which are only reserved for certain levels of membership.
4. Travel: Very often, these associations hold conferences and meetings in various locations around the world, with a local chapter playing host. These conferences present a great opportunity to learn about a new country both from a tourist and business point of view.
5. Leadership roles: You may be called upon to play a leadership role in your organisation. For example, president of your local chapter, treasurer or secretary. Embrace these roles with open arms. The exposure and experience you will obtain is priceless and will come in handy in the future.
6. Social impact: Friendly organisations often lead the way when it comes helping the less privileged in society. Being part of one gives you a large platform to contribute your quota towards changing the world.
7. Have fun: Some of the best parties I have been to have been organised/hosted by some of the organisations I am part of! It is important to experience points 1-6 above, but having fun is also a must.
So, when are you signing up?