Value of Professional AssociationsDocument Transcript
The Value of There are three levels of value provided by professional associations: to the profession in general, to your organization, and to youProfessional personally.2 In turn, each of these dovetails with commonly identified features of a professional association: networking, education, career development.Associations Networking Being able to share experiences and information with others in a similar line of work is the most common reason by Roy Atkinson people join—and remain members of— professional associations. Operating in isolation, reinventing the wheel, and“You must treat yourself as a professional if you expect others to respect simply not being sure of the best course ofyour profession. There is no reason the IT support professional should action or common practices in an industrytreat themselves any different[ly] from doctors, lawyers, or accountants.” can be sources of frustration. Finding—Kirk Weisler others who have faced the same challenges can be a relief. And having an established framework for continued communicationAs Kirk Weisler wisely points out, all respect starts with self-respect.1 Once a band of can lift the weight of having to puzzlepeople who do the same job—but in different organizations—begins to discover each through a problem all by yourself.other, a professional association can take root. These people recognize that there isinformation to be shared about how they do their jobs—methods or information they 2 There’s another one, but we’ll ____________________________have discovered that may make the job better and easier, or tough puzzles they are trying 1 Kirk Weisler, quoted in The Professional Association: Cultivating Leaders andto solve. save that one for later. Harnessing the Power of Community (HDI, 2008). 2 There’s another one, but we’ll save that one for later.22 Suppor tWorld | M arc h /A pri l 20121 Kirk Weisler, quoted in The Professional Association: Cultivating Leadersand Harnessing the Power of Community (HDI, 2008).
Networking can benefit a profession as a whole by shedding light “really knows what she’s doing,” but isn’t certified or rated foron common issues, providing a venue for ongoing discussions that type of aircraft? Chances are you would not. Your companyto establish standards and best practices, and disseminating can demonstrate that it has “qualified pilots” by having staff thatinformation that is either formally or informally peer-reviewed. are properly trained and certified according to the independentThe association often provides the means for people to meet in standards and requirements of a professional association.person (conferences, conventions, and local meetings), a home for Individuals certainly and obviously can benefit from professionalinformation online (websites, discussion boards, blogs, forums, education. Having a certificate may not make you any smarter,etc.), and often a way to communicate rapidly (directories, email but it does demonstrate a certain level of dedication to andlistservs, etc.). knowledge about your profession. All other things being equal,Your company or institution reaps benefits because it, through you most organizations would choose a certified candidate over anand other members, acquires information that might not otherwise uncertified candidate, even if certification isn’t expressly requiredbe accessible. How else but through an association would your for a position.company have access to the thoughts and work of employees of adifferent, perhaps even competing, company? Operations can be The industry’s position on certification:improved and streamlined, and solutions found more quickly and We require formal certificationeasily, by mining collective knowledge than by individual research. 13.4 You reap benefits because you can both gather and contribute 13.9 knowledge. Gathering knowledge accelerates your ability to do 12.3 your job and become a candidate for promotion and increasedresponsibility. Contributing knowledge boosts your self- 13.3confidence, gives you experience you might not get directly at We value individuals with certification, but do not require ityour job, and earns you recognition in your profession. 77.4 As the saying goes, “you reap what you sow,” and professional 76.1 associations commonly offer opportunities to do volunteer work of 76.9 many kinds. You can serve on committees, fill a local chapter officer 71.9position, contribute written articles or papers, speak at conferences We do not perceive a value to certificationor meeting, and become a representative of your profession. Many 8.7 associations encourage members to perform volunteer work outside 2011their field as well, such as tutoring students, serving on advisory 10.0 2010boards, and doing community service. This kind of participation 10.7 2009deepens your connections with others in the association and the 14.8 2008community, often producing lasting friendships. You can also find Percent of support centersa mentor, or become one, or both. Then, if you should desire toseek a new position, you’ve got connections in place, and that is a Source: 2011 HDI Desktop Support Practices & Salary Report, p. 72solid place to start.Education HDI research shows that more than 77 percent of organizationsMost professional associations offer some type of training, value individuals with certifications even if they do not requireeducation, and/or certification, and consider it one of their key it, while less than nine percent of organizations do not perceivemissions. Once professional standards and practices emerge, value to certifications. HDI’s own certifications rank second onlyassociations can design curricula and begin offering classes or to Microsoft’s among those identified as most important by surveyonline training. Successfully completing one or more of these respondents.3 See the chart on p. 11 for detailed statistics onclasses is recognized by certification, which verifies that you certifications.have learned those aspects of your job that have been identified In addition to individual courses offered throughout the year,as important. The association may realize tangible financial many professional associations hold local conferences. In mostbenefits from providing training, in addition to the intangible cases, these feature educational sessions where members andbenefits garnered by demonstrating a degree of parity with other other attendees can listen to, ask questions of, and converse withassociations, such as those for accounting, financial management, subject matter experts on a particular topic, and learn in depthand architecture. about successes, failures, and lessons learned. Local chapter orThe benefits of education, training, and certification to your group meetings also afford opportunities for learning, since manyorganization are manifold. Having certified staff shows the are based around a presentation by a guest speaker or member, orrest of your company or institution that you are committed to perhaps a roundtable discussion on a topic of common interest.excellence and interested in achieving and maintaining a high ____________________________level of competency. Would you fly on a plane with a pilot who 3 3 Jenny Rains, 2011 HDI Support Center Practices & Jenny Rains, 2011 HDI Support Center Practices & Salary Report (HDI, 2011), p. 72. Salary Report (HDI, 2011), p. 72. www.ThinkHDI.com | A P ro f essiona l J ourna l f or t h e IT S ervice an d T ec h nica l S uppor t C ommuni t y 23
Here, in two videos by HDI Member Advisory Board Visit HDIConnect.com member Brandon Caudle, HDI local chapter officers to listen to my podcast on the power of networking speak briefly about the value of belonging. and community (HDICast #7). Specific to HDI: vimeo.com/25386719 Professional associations and career development: vimeo.com/25167882 This benefits you directly in terms of your career path, but it also benefits your organization as you develop skills and knowledge that extend outside your area of expertise. It is one thing to be an excellent desktop support technician or support center analyst or manager; it’s another thing to be a support professional with a grasp of the business of support, the techniques of customerProfessional associations also publish journals, magazines, white service, and access to a large array of pertinent information.papers, webinars, blogs, and relevant information in nearlyevery form, so you can continue to learn even when there are Financial Benefitno events or courses running anywhere near you. (Many also In footnote #2, I mentioned that there was another advantageoffer formal online courses.) to belonging to a professional association, and it is this: direct financial benefits. As a member of an association, you receiveCareer Development discounted prices on just about every product or service offeredOf all the definitions of career development I’ve seen, the simplest by that association, and quite often just one product, course,and most direct is provided by the National Career Development or conference admission pays back more than you spend onWeek website: “Career development is the process of managing an individual membership. Your membership will likely alsoyour life, learning, and work.”4 include some deliverables (such as journals or magazines) at noWhile that might appear too broad a definition, thinking about extra cost, as well as access to studies and reports that wouldyour career encompasses your home life and what is commonly otherwise cost hundreds of dollars or more. Many associationscalled “work/life balance,” your present and future at your arrange for discounts on other products as well, such as specialworkplace, opportunities for advancements and changes, access to online libraries and even group insurance—especiallyand all the actions you take to succeed. Both of the previously in associations where the majority of members are self-employed.explored features—networking and education—feed the largerconsiderations, such as: Professional associations provide real, tangible value to those • What is happening in my field that might affect my future? who belong to them. They become fellowships and institutions of learning, sounding boards and crisis counselors, and authoritative • How can I connect with the organizations and people for sources of information and nourishment for a career. whom I might want to work? • What are people like me doing to succeed? • How far can I advance, and how do I get there? About the Author Roy Atkinson is HDI’s senior writer/analyst. HeThat list of questions can be as long as you’d like it to be, and at is an HDI-certified Support Center Manager andalmost any step, you can reach out either to publications or to a a veteran of both small business and enterprisefellow association member for guidance and information. consulting, service, and support.In addition, heConsider the possibility of having people who have “been there, has both frontline and management experience.done that” just a phone call, email, or message board post away. Roy is a member of the conference faculty for the HDI 2012 Conference & Expo and is known for his social media presence, especially on the4 “Definition – what is career development?,” Career____________________________ topic of customer service. He also serves as theIndustry Council of Australia, http://www.ncdw.com.au/ “Definition – what is career development?,” Career Industry Council of Australia,4http://www.ncdw.com.au/index.php/definition---what-is-career-development.html chapter advisor for the HDI Northern New England local chapter.index.php/definition---what-is-career-development.html24 Suppor tWorld | March /April 2012