Career Growth Through Professional Associations

How much time should one invest weekly in a professional association? What do you need to ensure maximum career growth through professional associations? How do you choose the right associations? It turns out there is some pretty good recommendations out there to light our paths as Volunteer Managers in this area.

Business Network International (BNI) founder, Dr. Ivan Misner, suggests that successful networkers spend between 8-10 hours per week networking in a professional setting. Dr. Misner, shared at length his experience and his research on professional networks in the BNI Podcast, Episode 528: How Many Networks, How Many Hours? 

Networking is part of Professional Development

Harvard Business Review, LinkedIn, Indeed, and Google all agree that networking and professional development time should be between 5-10 hours per week. Some of this time is dedicated to “knowledge acquisition” and some of this time is dedicated to “skills building.” Skills building is networking. You are meeting new people, testing your messaging, gaining feedback, building feedback loops, and identifying partner opportunities. Both, knowledge acquisition and skills building are part of professional development.

Career Growth Through Professional Associations

So what does this mean for volunteer managers? SAVMA is a professional association. Professional associations of all types are about maximizing your skills and network. To do that you need to prioritize your participation, attendance, and brand with the association. This means attending education programs, connecting on social media, updating your résumé and brand (personal and professional) to include the work of your membership. This should take an average of 1-2 hours a week with programs, networking, and online engagement.

Level up your career growth

After you updated your social profiles, got all the business cards and got new headshots you are ready to level up. Or heck, dive in early and lend a novice perspective to the collective voice. The next level of growth on the career track is industry leadership. Commit to a committee in SAVMA. They meet every other month. The Committee Charters (positions descriptions) can be found on the policy page. Committees is where the work of any organization gets done. In an association like SAVMA, you can call it a Committee or a Team, but the output of the work is what makes the organization. Depending on the committee, hours can vary between 3-7 hours per month.

Career Growth as a Corporate Officer and Director

The board role, collectively, is to take the work of the committees and institutionalize. This role, the board role, requires less time together, shorter meetings, but more planning, requires committee work to fill the agenda. If committees are not meeting, then the board has little to do. This is why directors serve on, and chair committees. Board leadership comes with an average of an additional 2-3 hours a month. You can often expect a board retreat to be a larger planning period and then shorter meetings throughout a board year.

Event Work Through Professional Associations as Career Growth

In SAVMA there are several opportunities to try your hand at new roles. Events provide short term opportunities to try new roles. Never Chaired a Special Event, that is fine by us, you can gain the experience in SAVMA, surrounded by those who have gone before you. Never done a press release or written a blog? Don’t worry, we have technical writers in our midst. Looking to add a skill to your résumé that you do not have now? SAVMA is the place to acquire it and events for SAVMA are the way to gain those skills. Between the SAVMA Awards, the SAVMA Fair, the VMHC, and the next big thing, we have a place for you to get involved.

Career Growth Through Professional Associations

To summarize potential commitments to SAVMA and yourself. Remember, all of these commitments are an investment in yourself as much as it is an investment in the profession in which you are a member. This is self-care as work balance. This is one of the many ways you set boundaries for yourself at work.

SAVMA Membership: 5-10 hours / month
Committee Membership: 3-5 hours / month
Board Membership: 2 hours
Event Work: depends on role and time of year 5-20 hours a month