Some professional associations offer little more than another line on your resume. Honestly, this was a big reason why I joined my local ATD chapter a few years ago. I had been a member of the national association for a while, I was beginning a job search and I wanted to show potential employers how connected and invested I was in the world of talent development.
As I’ve come to attend more local chapter meetings and more recently, as I’ve become involved in a more official capacity with the chapter, I’ve found that the benefits go much further than a simple line on my resume. Here are five benefits I’ve enjoyed as I’ve gotten more involved, and these benefits double as five reasons you should consider not just joining but becoming involved in your local ATD (or other professional association) chapter, too.
1. Networking. I continue to be surprised by what I can learn just by talking with others in the L&D field. Over the past week, I’ve had two conversations with two separate Board members of the local chapter, and I was introduced to two different sales models that their organizations use. Yes, I’m more of an instructional designer, but everyone in the training field needs to be able to sell their modules and resources to key influencers – whether at the executive level or line managers. If they don’t buy in, we don’t have traction.
2. Structured Learning. The chapter provides educational sessions on a monthly basis. Some of the speakers are great and talk about topics that I’m currently struggling with in my own work (free resources to make our LMS more user-friendly and engaging, evaluating training, creating a culture of learning). There are other times when I take more from small group conversations and other attendees. Sometimes a seed is planted and hopefully I’ll be able to use it at some point. Regardless, the monthly chapter meetings help remind me that I need to take a few hours out of the month to come up for air and sharpen my own skill set.
3. A Learning Community. I work on a very small training team, so being able to geek out on training ideas with other like-minded individuals on a regular basis is both energizing and helps open my eyes to a world of new possibilities.
4. Playing with House Money. Recently I volunteered to take on the role of “partnerships coordinator”, figuring: what do I have to lose? Stepping into a situation in which I have to seek out new relationships and approach potential corporate sponsors goes a tad beyond my comfort zone, and it’s a skill set I wouldn’t have a chance to work on in any other setting. Yay for personal and professional development!
5. The Lay of the Land. It’s so easy to focus solely on my work at my day job and not care about what others are doing or how they’re doing it. After all, in my day job, I have an opportunity to cure blindness. How cool is that? Except, I can’t do that to the best of my abilities if I’m not on the cutting edge of learning and development. Being more active in the local chapter has given me a much broader perspective on what people are doing and how their learning departments are organized and how their projects are managed. As part of the local chapter, I soak up insights on professional development from independent contractors, small consulting firms, large aerospace companies and huge technology firms.
And you? Have you found any benefits to getting more involved in professional associations in your local area?