What I’m Listening To: Feel-good country music perfect for summer: Summertime Country on Pandora
What I’m Reading: Hiking in Oregon
What I’m Watching: The Daily Show
Getting involved in professional associations is a great way to build your career prospects. Just about every profession has a local chapter of a larger association dedicated to a certain area of the profession. Sometimes, organizations are focused on the public sector and sometimes not, but it’s still a great idea to get involved. If you don’t know how to find your local association, ask a colleague, ask the ELGL brain trust, or do a quick google search.
Once you find your organization, join! Attend the meetings, participate in professional development, and attend networking events.
While you’re there, ask relevant questions and get to know others. Should you have the chance, offer up something that you’re good at or a new initiative you have implemented and make a presentation. Presenting to groups is sure career booster; it gives you name recognition and makes others think you what you’re talking about. I have seen quite a few people get unexpected job offers within six months of presenting to a group.
If you’re in need of some resume boosters, join a committee or the board. Involvement in an organization can afford you experience that you might not get in your day job like social media communications, member recruitment, event planning, speaker selection, meeting management, leadership, and so much more (for example, thanks to ELGL, I now know how to do a WordPress blog update!).
You can use these important technical and leadership skills to relate to new opportunities in the future or to boost your relevance in your current job. The key to joining a committee or the board is that you must be committed. These groups are usually run 100% by volunteers and no one wants to pick up someone else’s slack.
Another perk of joining a professional organization is networking. Some groups hold their meetings and training seminars over lunch or breakfast and many host social events. These are a great way to get to know others in your field. Especially if you work in a small agency and you have few professional colleagues, other association members can serve as a sounding board for your ideas and may be able to offer suggestions when you find yourself in a difficult situation.
The best thing about joining an association is the idea sharing. If you’ve been to an ELGL conference, you know the idea sharing is on fire! (Also check out the share of knowledge and jobs in ELGL Facebook groups.) A professional association provides a similar experience related solely to your field, but sometimes crosses over.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my local HR chapter’s presentation on Trans and Non-Binary Cultural Awareness, brought us by a trans-gendered health department employee. The purpose of the presentation was to share with HR professionals about the trans-gender experience, but we also learned a ton about the mental health and socio-economic impacts for this group of people. As a local government nerd, I always appreciate learning from employees and seeing the passion they have for their work – I guess that’s what I love so much about ELGL, the non-conforming professional association.