There are two big benefits of networking. One benefit is problem solving which associations are good at nurturing and talking about. The other is emotional support which associations tend not to focus on at all but which holds tremendous opportunity.
Just like there are two sides to networking there are two sides to professional development. One side associations focus on and the other is a unleveraged opportunity.
First, the side we focus on: learning. Associations are great at selecting topics, setting up events and finding many ways to get quality content in front of members. In many professions the association is the one stop shop for those new to the profession and for those trying to keep current. But there is a huge difference between knowing the facts and actually doing something with the facts.
A member recently said to me, “our industry is really good about talking about the problems but terrible about actually doing something about them.”
Think about why professionals don’t take action, usually it is because either they don’t know what to do, or they can’t, or don’t want to, or are afraid to act. Associations are pretty good at answering the problem of not knowing what to do. We provide step by step instructions, best practices and how others do it. The other side, motivating action and managing change, is trickier which is probably why associations don’t teach this.
The problem is, our conference, our webinar, our professional development, all of the knowing in the world doesn’t matter if our members don’t take action.
In addition to the usual tracks and topics professionals also need to build skills in:
- Change management
How do we help our members learn not only what to do but how to actually take those steps?