Show of hands: When you were little, did you want to be an association professional when you grew up? In college, did you choose to major in association management?
For most of us in the association management field, the answer to both of those questions is no. Most association professionals say they “fell into” association management and never looked back. And while there are certainly skills from other fields that translate well into this profession, we all know that this line of work comes with its own unique challenges. The member-based organization dynamic, board governance, membership growth and retention, providing education, volunteer management, developing new products and services, serving as the voice of an industry… the list goes on and on, and association professionals are charged with doing it all (and more) with very limited resources.
That’s where ISAE can help.
New in 2014, ISAE launched the Shared Interest Group (SIG) program. The concept is simple: Association professionals who have similar interests and/or responsibilities can come together to focus on what matters most to them. A full list of SIGs can be found here: http://www.isae.org/learn/shared-interest-groups/
Here are three ways an ISAE Shared Interest Group can grow your career:
- Shared resources. Many association professionals do not have the luxury of working in large departments with multiple staff members tasked for the same goals. Most likely, you’re a membership department of one; an event planning department of one; a communication department of one. Joining a Shared Interest Group gives you access to a network of other professionals who do exactly what you do day in and day out. Want to grow membership? Join the Membership SIG and you’ll likely find someone who is willing to share what their association did, provide samples and help you evaluate your own membership plan.
- Sense of community. It’s easy to think that your association is too unique, or the challenges too rare, to ever be able to find someone outside your organization who would understand. By joining a SIG, you’ll find that all association professionals tend to face similar situations—and want to help each other succeed. This outside perspective can help provide clarity to your organization’s issues while giving you the support system you need to tackle these challenges.
- Learn something new. Even the most seasoned association management professionals can benefit from a SIG. The peer-to-peer networking provides an invaluable opportunity to learn from each other’s successes and failures. Any association that refuses to adapt to current changes will not grow. The same can be said for the association professional leading that organization.
The SIG program is truly one of the most beneficial programs ISAE offers association professionals—but you’ll only get what you give. By joining a SIG, you’ll be able to reaffirm what your organization is doing right, learn what you can do to improve, and have a support network to guide you along the way.
Join a SIG now: http://www.isae.org/learn/shared-interest-groups/
Author: Shelly Pfenninger, Vacation Rental Managers Association
*The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Indiana Society of Association Executives (ISAE).