Benefits of Joining Professional Associations as an Instructional Designer

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The goal of many modern professional organizations is to promote their respective occupations by building a strong network of professionals whose similar backgrounds and interests facilitate the exchange of ideas, best practices, and innovations. The best professional organizations provide many social and educational opportunities and resources that help prepare their members for future industry shifts and communicate current industry standards. Joining a professional organization related to instructional/learning design, training, performance management, distance/online learning, program evaluation, and others promise multiple potential benefits. 

Expand Your Professional Network

Doing anything all alone can be challenging. Therefore, cultivating a professional network helps you keep in touch with old colleagues as well as meet new ones. Personal finance expert/consumer advocate and radio personality Clark Howard says “People Hire People,” meaning once colleagues get to know you, observe your professionalism and congeniality, and establish trust, you are much more likely to be considered for a position, or referred to a hiring manager who will. 

Additionally, membership in a professional organization can help connect you with the leaders and visionaries of our field. These connections can help you keep abreast of current and future trends and consider multiple perspectives from those who have found success.

Continuous Professional Development

In a recent NPR Interview, Michigan State University Professor of Economics Dr. Lisa Cook mentioned how unemployment can lead to “skills atrophy” and a loss of professional contacts. Even while currently employed, without intentional practice toward continuous self-improvement, it is easy to let your skills and knowledge go stale. In a fast-changing industry, this is a quick way to become irrelevant and replaceable. 

Participation in a professional organization can help you strive to maintain current expertise in your discipline. Better yet, active membership can provide opportunities for contributing to the body of knowledge in the field. Webinars, conferences, skills development curricula, and other opportunities offered by these organizations inform its members of the current trends in instructional design/training and the possibility of expanding their skill sets. 

Give Back to Your Professional Community

Simply being a member of a professional organization is not enough. You are joining a community of interested and passionate practitioners. Do not settle for passive membership! As a community member, join the discourse and participate in events, discussions, research. Even informal idea-sharing is a great benefit! You will strengthen your existing ties, gain new ones, and contribute to the marketplace of ideas that make up any professional community. 

Additionally, many organizations hold volunteer activities to benefit charitable causes or even the organization itself. Once you have established yourself as an active member, be sure to look for opportunities to contribute.

Remain Motivated and Curious

Motivation and curiosity are the hallmarks of a progressive professional. Active participation in a professional organization can help you maintain your motivation and nurture your curiosity. Organizations regularly contact their members, and the best ones have rich media presences across multiple platforms, in addition to their own.

Spotlighted Organizations 

Other Associations Related to Instructional Design, Training, and Distance Education & eLearning

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