An investment in yourself rather than an out-of-pocket expense.
In the early days, I found it a struggle to work as the sole internal comms practitioner within an in-house corporate comms team. Rather than continuing to sit in the dark, I joined the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and started attending some smaller workshops which proved to be invaluable. I soon developed the confidence to speak with other attendees before an event kicked off and discovered many of us faced the same challenges.
The value in bouncing ideas across a room with like-minded people and importantly, knowing that you’re never alone was a great comfort, and I soon discovered a large community exists to support each other.
I appreciate however that joining a professional body is no small investment and I’ve provided some tips on what I thought about:
- List all the things you are looking to gain from a professional membership such as training, mentorship, networking or CPD and the opportunities each body provides
- There are often local groups that will welcome non-members so look at what groups are local to you, how frequently they meet and pop along to find out more
- Many groups exist on social media so don’t be afraid to join the online conversations and ask questions although be careful not to end up getting too many opinions, everyone joins a membership body for different reasons
- Sign-up for alerts from multiple sources as many offer free sessions for networking and updates on industry trends. I set-up an auto-forward rule on my inbox so it didn’t get flooded with marketing emails
- Have a look back at when offers are promoted as you might be able to save some cash by taking advantage of promotional deals
- If you are working in-house, take a look at your employee handbook, many organisations will pay for one professional membership subscription if its relevant to your role
Since joining both the CIPR and the Institute of Internal Communications (IOIC) I have identified how both memberships provide different opportunities to help my professional development without the need to feel loyal to one. I take advantage of the regional groups the IOIC provides in my local area but got involved with the CIPR sub-committee, CIPR inside who focus on internal communications.
I’ve included some links at the end of this post that also cover this popular subject, but there is no right or wrong answer. The fact you have researched the benefits of professional membership is a good first step. Don’t be afraid of asking other IC practitioners on their thoughts but remember, there is no right or wrong decision so take your time.
Briefing: public relations bodies – by Richard Bailey
Which professional PR and communications association should you join – by Stuart Bruce
13 Basic Benefits of Joining a Professional Organisation – by EDUCBA