You hear it again and again – Join a professional organization! Attend a networking event! In your head you’re thinking, but I’m not looking for a new job, why should I spend my precious free time networking and exchanging business cards?

News Flash – there are TONS of reasons professional organizations are worthwhile! But in the essence of time, here are my top four…

4. Exploring Your City

Typically, professional organizations will hold their events in a variety of locations to try to appeal to members located in different neighborhoods or areas of the city. If you are a person who loves to try out new restaurants, breweries, hotel bars, or whatever the venue this is great news for you! At each event you get to check out a new hot spot in town without having to make any reservations or plans on your own.

3. Keeping in Touch

You’re thinking, isn’t this networking? The answer is no. I’m not talking about making new connections here, I’m talking about keeping old ones. It’s no secret the design industry in DC is a small one. You really don’t know how many people you already know in the industry until you attend an event. I’m constantly running into past co-workers, former professors and industry acquaintances. Professional organization events are a great way to keep up with these people on the fringes of your social circle. If you are nervous about not knowing anyone at a professional networking event, don’t be. Odds are you’ll know someone else there before you walk in the door.

2. Committing to Your Industry (and company!)

“Hi, I’m so and so and I work at so and so company.” Making the effort to stay involved in a professional organization isn’t just a benefit to you but also your company. Every name tag with your company name on it or contact list with your company email is free advertising for your company. An employer appreciates seeing that you are not only committing to being deeper involved in your industry, but that your effort is reflecting positively on the company as well and who knows where that might lead?

1. Growing Your Professional (and Life) Skills

Professional organizations are completely volunteer run. Do you think those awesome events, wacky fundraisers and packed trade shows plan themselves? Let me tell you, they don’t. Joining a committee is an easy way to kill two birds with one stone – 1) you automatically meet people in the organization and 2) you get to brush up on those rusty event planning, fundraising or other life skills you haven’t used in awhile. Professional organizations need help putting together outreach campaigns, connecting with students, planning events, and lots more. Each organization is always looking for volunteers! Contributing a couple hours a month to a committee is completely worth the benefit and who knows what skill (be it professional, life or leadership) you’ll develop?

 

Jennie Carman is a Certified Interior Designer & Brand Coordinator at SR/A. She served as Director of Programming for the NEWH DC Chapter in 2016, and has been an active member of the organization since 2014.