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Membership organizations were a well-kept secret for me until about 4 years ago. And what I mean by that is I never belonged to one until I launched my company four years ago.

I’m not sure why. Maybe I was comfortable in my corporate selling role and it didn’t occur to me to look outside for support or resources, or those in my network weren’t on the membership organization bandwagon either.

But my eyes were opened wide to how choosing the right organizations could make a huge difference in expanding my network, reaching my target market, and raising my profile.  Whether you’re a business owner or a corporate professional, leveraging professional associations will make a difference in your career growth.

Read on for 3 simple ways you can raise your profile by joining an organization.

Choose the right organizations. This seems a little obvious, but it’s important.  Find the organizations that serve the needs involved in keeping your skills sharp, and the ones that keep you current within your industry.

For example, let’s say you’re a sales trainer in the health care field.  First research the groups that can support your role as a training professional (a group like ASTD fits this need for me). Then research the groups that will give you knowledge and visibility in your industry. In this example it might be Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association. See the difference? Make sure to test the groups before you join; many organizations will allow you to attend as a guest first to see if it’s a good fit for you.

Introduce yourself to the board, and stay in touch. I’ve grown so many business relationships and friendships just by getting to know the board members of an organization I join. And guess what? You stand out for making the effort, especially when you keep in touch, offer ideas, or provide valuable feedback to make their lives easier and the organization better. Those board members will think of you first when opportunities arise – it could be a speaking engagement, a new job or client opportunity, or a key introduction.

Join a committee or chair a board position. I can personally attest to the power of volunteering in a board position. First, when you raise your hand to lead, people take notice. Second, you’re now in a position to interact with influencers in your industry, especially if you’re responsible for arranging speakers and programming for the organization. Both raise your profile, and build your trust and credibility.

How are you leveraging professional organizations to grow your career or business?

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