Are Professional Associations Still Relevant?

The short answer is yes, but….

Are professional associations still relevant today when managing your career? The short answer is yes, but…. Many professional associations are struggling today because many prospective members do not see the value. There are many professionals who believe they can use social media to replace these kinds of organizations. People flock to LinkedIn and Facebook groups, where they can often find communities that suit their career needs. The business savvy ones take the conversations offline, where possible, to meet in real life (IRL). Professional association are especially struggling to attract members from the Millennial generation, who have specific needs that are often not being addressed. Because of that, millennials are attracted to professional associations that are millennial focused, and ones that millennials lead.

Buzz Marketing Group’s Professional Associations Survey Result

For your interest, Buzz Marketing conducted some research on professionals associations and found:
Source: Buzz Marketing Group’s, “Professional Organizations Study 2015

What Does the Results of the Survey on the Relevance of Professional Associations Mean?

Although the survey targeted professionals under 40, there are important insights that we can glean from the survey results. The results underpin the importance of the customer experience. There is no doubt that professional associations are still relevant today. However, there are specific things they must do to attract new members – they have to change with the times. One important thing, is to have diversity on their board of directors. That means that their board should reflect the members they are trying to attract. It’s no longer business as usual, diversity matters. The’ old boys club’ doesn’t cut it anymore. The program planning committee should be comprised of the professionals they are trying to attract, so they develop programs that people are interested in. This allows a professional association to become even more relevant to the members they are trying to serve. When this happens, there will be less turnover in membership.


Action Step:  If you are a member of a professional association, or there is one that you would like to join, become a member, then get involved. Be proactive and get your voice heard. You will be able to influence the time of day when events are held, the types of events held, and ensure that there are both online and offline events. The online events could also include in-demand ones, so people can participate when it suits them.
Another important aspect, is that many professionals are interested in social capital, therefore professional associations have to align themselves with a cause that matters to their members. Even once a year, they need to give to a charity.  People will perceive them as being socially responsible.


Action Step: The only way you can effect change is to get involved to get your voice heard. Invite yourself to the table.
Please read the blog post, “How a Professional Association Can Help You in Your Job Search” because it includes the benefits of joining a professional association. This blog post takes off from there. The Buzz Marketing Group Survey results are important, because they are illuminating, but in the end, professionals have to be proactive about managing their career. For professional associations to become more relevant to you, to meet your needs, you have to get involved.  You have to invite yourself to the table. This is a career management strategy. Professionals associations still have a lot to offer its members.
Related Post: 
How a Professional Association Can Help You in Your Job Search