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?
5 thoughts on “4 Reasons to Join a Professional Group”
Professional groups and association meetings have been a highlight of my long career–I remember my first VPW meeting over a snowy mountain in April at Wintergreen Resort. I walked in and wondered if I would feel out of place, but it wasn’t long (several years) before someone had made me a state officer too. I love the fact that I heard Hillary Clinton speak at a NFPW national meeting in Arkansas back when she was “the governor’s wife.” 🙂
Although my active VPW/NFPW status has languished due to other work commitments (somehow the spring and fall meetings always come too close to other work or family commitments), I think networking in these ways is valuable. I too first learned about Twitter at a church communicators meeting (now called Anabaptist Communicators–wow, talk about in-house language) in Wichita, Kan. back in 2006. Good times–I thought Twitter was weird and that I’d never use it but of course I use it every day now especially in my job.
Yes, ideas and learning have been the hallmarks of professional groups. The networking and friendships are the extra benefit.
I love your point about friendships being the extra benefit. I agree!
A good reminder!
I love your point about brainstorming and idea sharing. Conferences and luncheons are energizing for me … I sit there and think, “Oh! Can’t wait to take this back to the office.”