Membership Has Its Benefits (But You Need To Appreciate Them)

Membership has its benefits; being a member of a networking group, or a professional association, definitely has its benefits:

  • you can network with like-minded people, who have your same interests and experience
  • you can get educated on the latest and greatest that is happening in your field that will enhance your professional development
  • you can volunteer to serve in a leadership capacity of some type; this raises your profile and you become memorable to others
  • you can speak, or serve on a panel, so that others can see your expertise
  • you can find a job, not just through networking but these types of groups have job boards that list postings
  • you can find a mentor, either formally or informally, who can help you in your career path or can connect you to the ‘right’ people’
  • you can find potential clients, or referrals to them

But, while membership has its benefits, it also means you have to show up to meetings and participate. If not, why join (and to put it on your resume doesn’t count). Associations and groups rely on your participation in their meetings and offerings; these are for your benefit, as mentioned above. But you also have to see the benefit and truly be a member – an active member; if not, these will fail.

Recognizing that there can be some challenges from actively participating. i.e. work schedules, time of day, location, time of year, etc. that do get in the way. Another factor is balancing time for business activities, such as client meetings or working with them.  So adding your professional meetings into your calendar will become another appointment to fulfill.

Many connections and friendships can also ensure from going to meetings, which is what these are all about. How you capitalize on these opportunities is yours for the taking; but, from personal experience, they have led to:

  • speaking opportunities
  •  being a published author
  • leading a mentoring program
  • business leads that turned into clients
  • referral partners
  • friends

“Membership has its privileges,” as the saying goes, so take advantage of a great way to enhance your career by becoming a member of a group in your industry. Be committed to the group and the benefits you receive will come back to you in ways you cannot imagine. Most allow you to visit before joining, so go to several and see what they’re about to ensure a good ‘fit.’ Focus on the benefits you’ll receive and the decision will be an easy one to make.

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Career Asssociations to Consider Joining

I am a huge joiner in groups and associations as I believe in the power of networking as well as for information and learning.  Joining associations can also be a great networking tool, as you can network with people in the industry you want to be in; they offer opportunities to learn of job opportunities; and they offer a chance to show off your skills by volunteering to serve on committees as well as through mentorship.  Here are three organizations that are career-related and that offer all of these opportunities. You may find a new career path for yourself in the making!

1.  The Association of Career Professionals:

2.  The National Career Development Association:

3.  The Career and Adult Development Network:

How do You Find a Job with Limited Skills?

Most career-related articles are directed towards higher level, or white-collar workers.  These are displaced workers who held professional-level jobs and who have the education, skills and experience that will take them forward to employment; it is easier for them to find a job.  But what about those individuals who may have limited skills or lack the education or experience.  What can they do to find a job?

Some of these individuals may only have a high school diploma, or may not have finished high school.  Others may have a language barrier or have never worked.  For these individuals, it will be more difficult to find employment but it is not impossible.

1. Just as those with more education and experience, it starts with knowing exactly what skills and experience you possess.  A job search plan is necessary to focus your efforts so you are not expending time and energy on wasted effort.

2.  Getting job-search help is a necessity, such as through the One Stop Workforce or similar programs.  Look where you might be able to get some training or schooling – there are opportunities through the stimulus program.

3. Attend job fairs or networking events – these are great opportunities to find numerous employers in one location

4. Have a resume that highlights your skills and talents.  Show any volunteering or classes taken.  Highlight outcomes or benefits you possess.

5.  Look the part – make sure you dress appropriatly at all times.  If you are going to an interview, are out networking or applying for jobs, make sure you wear dress pants and shirt.  Look like you are at work; it will help set you apart from the competition and show a potential employer that you are serious about working.

There’s no doubt about it, it’s tough out there.  There are jobs available but with a flooded market of job seekers, it is more difficult to find the ways to stand out.  It’s not impossible but it does take persistance and dilligence.  Find ways for relaxation to relieve stress and seek out supports to help you through.  Above all, never quit.

Is Networking a Part of Your Job Search Strategy?

Are you aware that 80% of available jobs are not posted on any job boards?  It is a fact that businesses are not posting over half of their jobs due to the amount of interest they receive on a daily basis. They are already overwhelmed so they keep the majority of their positions covert.  These are the jobs that they want great candidates for.  They are banking on hearing about these candidates through people they know and trust, such as family or friends.  That is why the best way to find a job is through networking – talking to the people you know, who know people, who know people, and so on.  It is about gettin yourself out there and networking your personal brand – you – to get that next position.  It is about using the social networking sites, such as LinkedIn and Facebook, or others, to let people know who you are, what you are looking for, and then to ask if they know anyone hiring for your services or field.

I will tell you a quick story about how this can work. I attended a career meeting and met someone who was looking for a job.  I sent him some links but never heard from him after.  Recently, he contacted me to inquire about a networking group that I had mentioned to him several months ago.  He came to the meeting and told the group what he was looking for. He had at least five people who said they would refer him to people they know in his field.  If he had followed up several months ago, he could be working right now! The moral of the story is how the networking process works in a job search and how powerful if can be.  So, is networking a part of your job search strategy?

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