Could a professional network be the answer you’re looking for?
Not everyone is a ‘joiner’ – in fact, some people even dread the idea of talking to strangers at professional events! But no matter what industry you work in, networking is almost inevitably something you’ll need to do at some point. The good news? By tapping into a network of like-minded career people, you may gain a lot more than you expect. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur or a well-established manager, joining a professional membership organisation can be a great way to connect with people you’d never otherwise meet, and gain unexpected benefits.
We asked a few of the Institute’s Members what triggered them to first join up, and what they get out of the community. Here are a few of their answers – if you can relate to any of these, perhaps it’s worth jumping on board the membership bandwagon!
1. When you want to get to the top, pronto.
If you have clear career goals in your sights, and you want to achieve them as quickly as possible, then it’ll certainly pay to put yourself out there. By joining a membership organisation, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that – whether it’s by attending events, connecting online, or contributing content to a blog or LinkedIn. Building a professional profile is especially important when you’re first establishing your career (or when you are trying to establish yourself as an expert in a field or on a topic). After all, no matter what business you’re in, it helps to meet people you wouldn’t cross paths with in the office kitchen – broadening your perspective, opening up potential job opportunities down the track or seeking out business development opportunities. As the old adage goes, “sometimes it’s who you know, not what you know.”
2. When you’re running a business, and feeling a little isolated.
Running your own show has many perks: freedom and flexibility for a start. But while it’s exciting, the life of an entrepreneur can also be a lonely one – and you may find yourself missing those small human interactions you once took for granted in a bigger office. This is where being a Member of an organisation like IML can make all the difference. Not only do you have events to look forward to, you can even take advantage of Member lounges and libraries – these can be a great alternative to working from home! Not only is it nice to bump into new people on a social level, it can open up new doors professionally too. Who knows, maybe that nice person sitting beside you is your next big client?
3. When you’ve reached a career plateau, and aren’t sure what’s next.
When you’ve been working in the same industry for a while, a time might come when you hit a wall. You’re not sure how to progress, or what direction to move in – and chances are, there will be a limit to how much people in your existing organisation can help you. If you’re in this particular boat, it can really help to take a step back and talk to people outside your immediate orbit – and of course, joining a professional community is an easy way to find them.
Seeking advice from people with different perspectives can help you see your own situation more clearly, and it could even inspire you to make a career change you’d never previously considered. You might have a light bulb moment attending one of our Masterclasses. Otherwise a lot of our Members find the reading material provided (like the quarterly magazine, Leadership Matters) very useful, as it’s designed to provoke thought and spark new ideas.
Or if you really want to stand out IML is also the only organisation to offer the Chartered Manager accreditation: an internationally recognised designation that can really set you apart.
4. When you’ve got a dilemma you’re not sure how to solve.
While it’s easy to ask for help when you’re starting out in your career, it can become harder as you rise up through the ranks of management. Not only will there be fewer people around who are more senior than you, there can be politics that prevent you from wanting to seek their help. That said, no matter how experienced you are, there will be moments when you need a second opinion – maybe you have a tricky employee to manage, or maybe you’ve lost touch with what’s considered best practice in your sector.
This is certainly a time when a membership organisation like IML can help. As well as connecting you with all the resources you could ask for (thousands of journals such as Harvard Business Review and McKinsey Quarterly for a start), IML can also put you in touch with people who’ve ‘been there, done that’ – peers who can provide guidance without any strings attached. Because, no matter what level you’re at, leadership is an art you never stop learning.
At IML, you have the chance to find a mentor to give you personal guidance – which is a serious advantage in our competitive job market. It might be just the circuit breaker you need!
But mentoring isn’t just for those who are seeking guidance…
5. When you’ve reached a point where you’d like to give back.
Chances are, you won’t have reached your current level of success without the help of at least one or two people. If you were really lucky you may have even had a mentor who shared their advice and knowledge at critical points in your career. What’s important to remember is that these relationships aren’t just valuable for the mentees – they’re also very satisfying for the mentors. If you’re at a stage in your career where you have valuable wisdom and life lessons to share, why not give back by becoming a mentor? Doing so through a membership organisation means you can make a real contribution to your industry. You might even find yourself learning a thing or two from the people you mentor – and at the very least, you’ll gain fresh insight into topics you thought you knew back to front.
With EOFY fast approaching, time is running out to renew your IML membership. Renew now through the member portal.
Curious about how IML Membership works, and what it costs? Visit managersandleaders.com.au/join-iml/ to find out more