If someone were to ask me what had an impact on my career, I would point to my membership in Virginia Professional Communicators and National Federation of Press Women.
Early in my career, VPC afforded me opportunities to learn and develop skills, such as publishing a newsletter and organizing events. Those skills were invaluable as a PR director for a police department. Later, I became president of both my affiliate and the national organization and honed my leadership skills. Attending conferences is where I first learned about blogging and Twitter.
The professional groups I belong to today — VPC, NFPW and PRSA — keep me from becoming stale. I have learned about using Twitter during a crisis and how drones can impact reporting, for example. I learn about new apps such as Slack.
Membership in these organizations also keeps me connected to colleagues in the profession. Sometimes you just need to share (or vent) with someone who gets the challenges of the industry. During a particularly challenging time at the police department, I was able to speak candidly with an NFPW member who had been involved with Columbine. I knew I could share anything, and not only would she would not repeat it but she would offer advice (and did).
Networking with others in the industry also promotes brainstorming and idea sharing. One idea for a conference emerged when three of us were riding in an elevator and sharing about our field. We were all working in higher education at different universities in different states and we realized we had much in common and much to share. At a future conference, we are going to have members eat lunch together based on their affinity so that they can brainstorm and share ideas.
The year is young. Why not find a group in your industry and see how it can benefit you — or how you can benefit it.
In the comment section, would you post the professional groups you would recommend to others and why?