Here at Leading Women we're obviously big fans of networking...by that we mean the cultivation of strategic relationships inside and outside your organization. Why? First, because getting the job done almost always requires cooperation with others. Second, because the higher you go in your organization, the more important become external networks - specifically those with organizations that can influence the business environment for your organization.
That's why it's important to consider association memberships. Professional associations, industry associations, customer industry associations, vendor/supplier industry associations and trade associations are all fertile possibilities. To get you thinking, we offer a list of professional associations on our site. But through my own network, I recently came across a site with a comprehensive list of women's associations - as a matter of fact, nearly 700 of them! From advertising to banking, construction executives to railroad, to accountants.
With so many to choose from (and for most of us so little time) how do you choose? Here are 3 tips for finding the right associations to participate in.
- Consider your profession. Most professions have at least one related association for example HR = Society for Human Resource Management; IT = Women in IT. As a matter of fact, our list is mostly professional associations.
- Identify the industries represented by your major customers and discover the associations they belong to. This is a great way to keep customer trends in the forefront of your mind.
- List the industries represented by your major suppliers/vendors. Their associations will alert you to trends that might disrupt or provide opportunities in the supply chain.
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.
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