I am a busy working mom of 3. I work at a great digital agency with many talented people. I have my team, a variety of clients, and my other gifted colleagues. What I don’t have are 2000 or so other professionals in my industry from around the world that I can network with and learn from; and I certainly don’t have time to travel around to find them.
I joined UXPA (formerly UPA) YEARS ago in hopes that it would help me grow as a UX professional and take me out of my office comfort zone. (Note to those who may not know UX – the UXPA defines a User Experience (UX) professional broadly as people who research, design, and evaluate the user experience of products and services – that’s me). One of the primary goals of UXPA has always been to provide ongoing networking opportunities for user experience professionals to meet and exchange ideas. For me, they did just that. I have met many interesting people and acquired thought-provoking perspectives on ideas I may not have been able to get as easily if I did not have these contacts.
Those entrenched in the day to day of their jobs and all that their work involves may not realize how removed you can get from the rest of the world in your particular field. Joining an association in your industry is a great way to stay involved, stay in touch and GROW professionally without having to jump from job to job or take 10 plus courses a year. UXPA has allowed me to work with fellow members and more importantly, learn from them. Attending their annual conference was so educational and inspirational; I even started volunteering for the actual planning of the conference years ago. Getting behind the scenes while staying on the cutting edge of my industry!
So, what is your industry? What is the association that most relates to it? You may argue “These are the same people I will compete for jobs with!” but it shouldn’t be viewed that way. Working together with members in your association you have the opportunity to help define your industry and your business (or your company’s business). It also gives you the chance to get involved in new ventures. Not unlike my new endeavor to co-chair the 2014 UXPA conference, there are many ways to collaborate with other members and initiate new projects to help enhance your industry and your work.