I love talking to my clients about how to work with professional associations. I love how their eyes start to widen and as they absorb the logic behind what I am suggesting, yet the surprise that they hadn’t naturally thought to do this.
Well, as the title says, there are ways and there are ways…
The typical way of getting involved with professional associations during the job search process is to:
1) Find the professional associations in your field and see if there are local chapters.
2) Look at the local chapter’s web site and see if there are coming meetings, seminars, workshops or conferences that look to be of interest to you.
3) Sign up and go to the event. Enjoy some snacks, see the program and perhaps pay the membership fee and have access to job listings and upcoming programs.
OKAY…that’s fine and that is the way MOST job seekers approach professional associations as part of their job search.
Now, there is another way…a way that I propose will yield you much, much better results.
1) The same as above
2) Look on the ABOUT US and read all about the volunteer leaders
3) Learn more about the group, read and study the web site, learn about past programs, see about upcoming programs and one’s that might interest you.
4) Contact some of the leaders in a strategic way. First introduce yourself by email and briefly mention your background and that you are a job seeker. Add why you’re attracted to the group and something of interest about their background and/or leadership activities with the organization.
5) VITAL—OFFER to VOLUNTEER at an upcoming event or another capacity. OFFER TO GIVE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF. Perhaps you can offer to work at the registration desk at next event.
Make sure to GIVE before you ask for anything…
6) Go to the event and play your volunteer role. YOU ARE NOW AN ACTIVE PART OF THE ORGANIZATION and people will be more open to meeting you. You will be greeted by some of the leaders you spoke to and now you’ll get personal greeting and be introduced to others! Now it feels like ‘old home week’ and you’re starting to be connected!
7) Now that some of the leaders have met you, you have EARNED THE RIGHT to ask for introductions and ask people for informational interviews where you can start building rapport, learning and building strong networking relationships to serve your job search.