We’re often told that “membership has its privileges” (see: AmEx marketing) but many times we find that we’re hard-pressed to see them. “What have you done for me lately” issues often lead our thinking.
Here’s a primer on what membership in a professional organization can “do for you” if you participate.
Insight/Refreshers on Professional Standards and Trends
Most associations promulgate a standard for ethical behavior, often including an opportunity to review sticky situations in which one may find oneself.
Your association is also paying attention to what is happening in the marketplace and can keep you informed about business trends and technology that is coming around the bend so you’re ready to stay on top of your game.
Continuing Education and Certification Opportunities
Whether at a state or local level, associations can offer an amazing variety of educational opportunities – from software-specific events to exploratory sessions about other avenues within the profession to general industry and informational topics.
National associations have the added benefit of offering certification programs that may be required for employment within your jurisdiction or tickle YOUR desire to keep challenging yourself.
Networking for Business (and Pleasure!)
Associations create networking opportunities, whether it be a small evening group at a local restaurant, a user group session, or a national convention. By attending these events, you can create a referral network not only for yourself but also for your clients should they need to find a professional out of your area.
Then there are the friendships that emerge from consistent participation – maybe you have a group of colleagues that you now meet to travel overseas with, take spa vacations with, or even do wine tours with. Your colleagues become friends.
Additionally, if one participates as a student or new professional, the seeds of mentorship and future working relationships will be planted.
The online resourcing cannot be understated either. Many associations have a list of members online. Don’t know anyone in a state but a client is looking for a referral? Hop on your membership association’s website and search the database.
Wait, There’s More??
Most member associations offer affiliation discounts to various retailers – big box supply stores, and rental companies to name but a couple – and wouldn’t that come in handy when you need a new printer or want to rent a car to explore the area of a convention after the meeting?
One of the awesome things about associations is the outreach to potential students and new reporters – whether by a free short-term immersion program or scholarships, your association is actively recruiting to ensure the viability of the profession going forward.
Giving Back – Follow Your Passions
All associations, from your local chamber to your state professional association to your national organization need passionate volunteers to keep the association vibrant and relevant to its members. Volunteering your time on a topic that calls to you can not only increase your leadership and teamwork skills but also provide a valuable service to the association and the profession as a whole.
Last, But Not Least – Awards and Competitions
From an altruism award and a distinguished service award to a student award or a competition medal, your association loves to recognize the members who stand out, whether by doing the things they love for years behind the scenes or by putting themselves “out there” in front of their colleagues and pushing themselves to the edges of their limitations. Getting an award can be an affirmation of all the work you’ve put into your profession and offer recognition as well.
Professional Organizations for the Reporting Community
- National Court Reporters Association
- National Verbatim Reporters Association
- State Court Reporters Associations
- Global Alliance of Speech-to-Text Captioning
- National Court Reporters Foundation
Won’t you join your association and be part of its lifeblood? Whether it’s an hour a week, a couple of weeks during the year, or even board service, your profession needs you.