Why Now is the Time for Professional Organizations

While campaigning for president, Bill Clinton reminded himself and his supporters, “It’s the economy stupid.”  During an earlier era, the 1928 presidential election turned on the campaign slogan “A chicken in every pot.  And a car in every backyard to boot.”  The economy and by extension jobs, is an issue that’s always front and center of any discussion.

So why is now the time for involvement in your professional organization?  Simple, it comes down to one word – jobs.  With one exception, every job I’ve ever been offered was the result of a connection made through MCA-I (formerly ITVA), a professional association that I’ve been part of for many years.

While still in college and before entering the workforce, I attended an ITVA Conference as a student ambassador.  That stood out on my resume and my first boss took a chance and hired me.  Six jobs, lots of career twists and turns, and the connections made through MCA-I are still an important part of my professional life.

But before the jobs came the opportunity to learn and develop new skills.  Professional organizations, like MCA-I, always need volunteers.  Committees need volunteers… local chapters need help… national organizations need people willing to become involved and make things happen.  Opportunities abound to develop technical knowledge, improve communication skills, or build experience manage people and complex projects.

So how did these jobs come about?  In one case it was the result of hosting a workshop.  Another job came about through a chance encounter on an elevator.  Simply put, connections were made, relationships established, and career opportunities were the result.

In today’s Web 2.0 world, coupled with social networking using a wide range of social media channels, many question the value of professional associations and contacts.  Without a doubt virtual networking plays an important part in building a professional network and remaining in contact.  But there’s no replacement for personal contacts, friendships, and relationships made and strengthened through personal contact.

While learning my craft at my first job in corporate communications, I was asked to moderate a workshop at a national ITVA Conference.  With encouragement from my boss, I agreed and assembled a panel of experts.  During the workshop the panel did most of the presentation.  My remarks were limited to introductions and giving directions to the rest rooms.  Still, I was on-stage with some very experienced veterans.  Several years later while seeking a new job, I sent a resume to a company looking to hire.  The department head recognized my name and recalled the workshop at the annual professional development conference.  I got the job and in the process learned the value of networking.

Several years ago I received a call from a producer located on the other side of the country.  He needed a shooter for a single talking head interview.  I’m not sure why he called me, but I gave him a couple of names and made recommendations.  As occasionally happens, one shoot led to another, then to a bigger project, and continuing on-going work.  As far as I know, the producer and the shooter have never met or even been on the same coast at the same time.  But they continue to do business together.

My current job is the result of a professional connection that goes back to the days of ¾” U-Matic and 1” helical tape.  A lot has changed since then.  Before coming to work at SAS, I got to know many of the people I now work with.  We attended events and conferences together.  We ran into each other at places like NAB and monthly ITVA/MCA-I chapter meetings.  When it became time for another career move, I reached out to some of the people I’ve known so long at SAS.  I was fortunate, an opportunity arose and I’m now on staff writing and producing video and multimedia for SAS.  Without the professional connections made and nurtured over years, it’s doubtful I would have had the opportunity.

If you want to know about opportunity created while riding an elevator, you’ll need to either give me a call or come by for a visit.  We can exchange business cards (yes, people still do that), if you bring your iPhone we can bump, or we can connect via LinkedIn.  Who knows, it might just open a new door.

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