10 Mar Professional Growth: Finding Value in a Membership
In November 2017, I was provided the opportunity through my employer to seek out professional organizations to join and get involved with. My employer would pay the membership fees for any organizations I found that I believed would be beneficial to my role in the office.
Full disclosure, before going on this search – I’d never heard of the American Marketing Association before. It didn’t take long in reading on the national site to realize this was one of the organizations I wanted to join. With my employer willing to cover my membership fee – as well as encouraging me to be actively engaged – it was easy to find the value in joining.
But value is a concept. It’s a perceived idea of the benefits you gain from a financial investment. When you don’t have to foot the cost yourself, the perception of value is easily increased. If you’re a business owner or freelancer every dollar spent carries a vastly different weight in terms of value.
That’s where the American Marketing Association actually makes the argument for value pretty easy. I’ve been a full-time freelancer in the past and continue to work with side gigs when I can. I’m a professional in the areas I specialize in, but I’m not an expert at everything. I can’t possibly know everything about every aspect of marketing. That’s why I rely on others to help me continue to learn. The American Marketing Association offers incredible resources on the national site.
Part of your membership includes two subscriptions. One to one of their professional quarterly journals and the other to their monthly magazine. The journal, in all honesty, is dense, truly an academic and professional resource. The magazine is a much more casual, yet still professional publication. I’ve got a small stack of issues saved with Post-It flags sticking out the sides on my desk at work.
There are frequent, but not annoyingly frequent, emails with tips, news, and information about best marketing trends and practices which are also posted as blogs on the website as well. If you’re interested in seeking out a Professional Certified Marketer certification, AMA offers a discounted rate on the exam.
Looking for a change in career? There’s a dedicated job board as well. And those are honestly the tip of the iceberg on the national level. Where the value truly shines through is on the local level in your specific chapter.
The Colorado Chapter is run by a dedicated volunteer board on yearly board roles. They work hard to create a regular set of events in the Denver and Fort Collins areas that provide networking opportunities, lunch and learns, product and company showcase events and real chances to professionally advance your development. As a member, you get discounted or free admission to the events, adding another level of value to your membership. Not to mention, because it is a volunteer board, there’s likely a chance to get involved serving on the board, or volunteering in a board division to further develop your skills and meet others who share the same professional passions you do.
Now, you can take this as a sales pitch, or you can take this as a true testament to the value of AMA and aligning with a chapter that can provide local resources for members only. Remember, the value of a professional organization membership is limited to the extent you wish to gain from it. Knowing that an organization has resources available and works to provide you with professional benefits is just the start – you’ve got to choose to want to grow as a professional. That’s why AMA exists – to help those in marketing continue to improve and advance their skills. It’s why you’re reading this at all.
So, do your homework, determine what you consider valuable to you and make the call. I did, am thankful I did. What I’ve learned and the network I connected with has already paid dividends.
– Mike Mierendorf
Disclaimer: Mike Mierendorf served as VP of Web and Technology on the volunteer Board of Directors from July 2018 – February 2019.