The newsLINK Group - Why You Should Participate in Your Asociation's Convention

Editorial Library Category: Associations & Membership Topics: Convention and Event Participation Title: Why You Should Participate in Your Association’s Convention Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: People really do need each other in order to succeed. Association membership can be one of the most important investments you can make professionally, and attending conventions and events is important. Editorial: Why You Should Participate in Your Association’s Convention 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Your time is valuable. So are your financial resources. That being the case, why should you invest the time and money in attending an association convention? Couldn’t you have just as much impact professionally by participating in something like social media? Social media is important, of course, and doing it well can be vital to career development. But there is just no substitute for seeing people face-to-face and talking to them. Associations provide a valuable way to get you in a room with other people, learning from each other; the other resources they provide will strengthen you professionally as well. You would be surprised at the number and variety of resources that are available to you through an association membership. Associations are also good insurance for staying in business. Approximately 85 percent of the businesses that fail are ones where the people who worked there didn’t think associations were important. People really do need each other in order to succeed. Association membership can be one of the most important investments you can make professionally — and that goes double when economic times are hard. The Pitch for Professional Development The top reasons why convention attendance should be a must-do item on your list include the following: Contacts, contacts, contacts: Everyone talks about the importance of networking; but a lot of people don’t understand what networking really is. It’s a network of friendships and acquaintances, some strong, some weak, and it isn’t something you lock in your desk and expect to keep fresh. If you know someone and never call them or have any regular contact with them, there’s always a chance that your friendship will not starve a slow and lonely death. More likely is that you will begin the slide away from each other. To thrive, any relationship will benefit from regular feeding. A cell phone call or a blog entry is better than nothing. But don’t you want to raise the bar just a little? A convention is a great excuse for getting together. Share a lecture, a meal, a laugh. Done right, it will build you professionally. It might also be fun. Feeding your brain: How long can you expect to stay at the top of your field — or even just get there in the first place — if you don’t ever put yourself in situations where you can get a lot of different information from a lot of different sources in a short period of time? There’s a collective synergy that can only come to life when you have many competent, professional people all in the same room, ready to talk shop. Don’t fool yourself: search engines can never replace personalized, expert information delivered in real time. You’ll find out about trends, legislation, and important issues by becoming a member and actively choosing to participate. The Game Plan To get the most out of any convention, you need to start ahead of time. The first step is to identify the associations that will most benefit you, personally and professionally. Examine both regional and national options, and be thoughtful about joining. You will be better off joining one really good association than joining several of them and not really have enough time for any of them. If you are a student, you are probably eligible for a discounted student membership. There’s also usually a discount if you sign up for a multi-year membership. Do more than just pay your dues. You won’t get the benefit of joining the association if you stop at giving it money. That’s a little like buying something in a store and then just leaving it behind on the counter. Find out what conventions are being sponsored by the association that would best fit your professional needs. Most trade associations have an annual meeting, although the meeting schedule might be more frequent than that.