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Don’t Just Join, Engage!

Written by Alyssa Gelbard, Founder & President, Point Road Group

A professional association, particularly FEI, is a fantastic source for career development when you invest the time and get involved. This means going beyond attending a few programs a year. Determine what your short (and even longer) term professional goals are, and then engage with the community, resources and programs to help achieve your objectives.

While you may attend a program to learn more about a topic and earn CPE credits, there’s so much more to gain from going. Network growth is a key reason people join associations, particularly FEI, so introduce yourself to fellow members, as well as to the leadership team and sponsors. If you’re a bit shy, out of practice or uncomfortable going up to others, ask someone you know to make an introduction -- the FEI NYC community is friendly and approachable!

Don’t expect your network to grow overnight after exchanging a few business cards though; relationships take time to develop. Follow up with new contacts and make plans to meet or set up a call… and take some time to speak with them at the next event you both attend. Your default follow-up for everyone should not be limited to a connection request on LinkedIn (remember to personalize!) or a brief email exchange.

When you regularly attend and engage with others at events, members see and experience your personal brand… and you become a known quantity. This can impact business and job opportunities. You hear about potential roles when you speak with people. When members are aware of your expertise, they may seek you out when they have questions related to it or recommend you as a speaker.

Increasing visibility is also helpful if you’d like to join a chapter committee or serve in a leadership capacity. In these roles, you can hone skills (management, communication, governance, advocacy etc.) which translate when seeking other board roles, as well as increase effectiveness in your daily job. But never assume people know you want to be involved – you actually need to tell them. And, if you have future program ideas or connections to speakers or venues, chapter leaders love suggestions -- speak up!
The bottom line is that professional memberships offer many perks, but it’s up to you to take advantage of them. Putting in time and getting involved will enable you to maximize career benefits.

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