Professional association aficionados know you get out of your membership pretty much in proportion to the time and energy you put in. This means jumping in, presenting at events, joining a committee, participating in online discussion boards, positioning yourself for leadership. Paying dues and going to an event or two is not quite as rewarding.
I could be a case study for this. I joined IAMC in 2004. I’ve served on the Membership Recruiting Committee, co-chaired it, and helped provide oversight for Princeton, New Jersey, IAMC Local events. I’ve attended 16 Professional Forums and presented at or moderated several workshops. I was invited to serve as board secretary for 2015. Last year I became chair.
IAMC has been a rewarding experience for me, providing skills development workshops, expanding my professional network, honing my leadership capabilities and introducing me to industry people who’ve become my friends. Leadership in a volunteer organization is even more challenging than in a corporate environment, but looking back, the leadership skills we call upon more often at IAMC are the best to emphasize in a corporate environment as well. I believe my reputation and value as perceived by my company have expanded as a result. I’ve had to invest my time and personal energy, but the ROI has been very positive.
So, how can you use IAMC to further yourself professionally? It’s a capable career management tool, I can tell you. Here are some recommended process steps:
Participating in IAMC can signal to your peers at work, your management and others in the field outside your company that you are serious about your career. This is a good thing, because it’s not necessarily true of every professional in any field of work. It gets you noticed. It may open some doors and get you additional responsibility and promotion opportunities. In some companies, just demonstrating this interest can provide access to training tracks not available to all managers.
Professional development is crucial for every growing, advancing, responsible professional. Things change every day, week, and month. IAMC is aggressively upgrading its professional development capabilities. We provide programs in 11 CRE practice areas. Most of these are covered in every Professional Forum. Workshops are also available at Local and International events and via occasional Webinars. We’re building a knowledge repository of workshop presentations and research that’s available 24/7 from anywhere through IAMC’s Cornerstone online discussion board.
But passively taking in the learning is not enough in any profession. Those who are on the way up and are actually growing have an obligation to become part of the instructional infrastructure. True professionals share what they know because that’s the only way to grow the profession. We all talk about best practices; but if everyone kept them to themselves, the level of knowledge and sophistication in the profession’s population would stagnate.
Most know that teaching and mentoring provides as many or more insights to the teacher/mentor as it does to the student/mentee. Sharing what you know as a workshop presenter actually sharpens and deepens those insights in you.
Cornerstone is another great way to network right from your desk at work. Get your password. Log on and check the discussion threads a couple of times a day. If you can contribute to a discussion, don’t hesitate to do so. You may be the only one with the particular insights that could solve another member’s problem. Cornerstone is a great way to get your name out there as someone with valuable ideas and experience.
Lastly, IAMC is a quiet but very effective CRE jobs network. If your department is hiring, get the word out over Cornerstone. If you’re looking for a new situation, you also can use Cornerstone. I recommend you focus your communication toward those members most likely to have the job you seek.
The group to which you send can be very finely tuned. If you’re not sure how, reach out to a staff person for assistance. They’ll be glad to help.
In conclusion, I encourage you to view IAMC is as a career management tool. You or your company are paying the dues. It’s there waiting for you to use for your professional benefit and advantage.
Chair, IAMC Board of Directors