By Christina Katz
If you are going to be a professional communicator (another way of saying “writer”), then you’ll want to join some writing associations. Why? Because membership in professional associations will augment your status as a pro. Joining professional organizations is crucial to put you in contact with your peers and members of your target audience. Therefore your best bet is to join several organizations and get involved with each one to whatever extent you can.
Professional organizations will also help you keep up with the latest industry trends and relevant news in your specialty. Your membership will likely earn you a reduced rate for continuing education opportunities like lectures, workshops, and conferences. You’ll have an opportunity to publicly display your credentials and see what your professional peers have accomplished. Some professional organizations offer additional benefits, like insurance and legal assistance, and serve as a formal or informal clearinghouse for referrals.
Why not create a checklist like this one to make sure you make the most of every membership you invest in:
- Pay dues.
- Make paper and electronic folders for organization materials and correspondence.
- Add membership card to wallet when it arrives.
- Pick a date each month to read membership organization materials (maybe at the coffee shop or while you sit outside-make it enjoyable so you’ll do it).
- Add meetings, lectures, workshops, and conferences to calendar.
- Mark next year’s calendar as a reminder to assess satisfaction and consider dues renewal.
Professional affiliations is a topic in my forthcoming book, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform (Writer’s Digest Books, October 2008). I hope you will find it to be helpful. In the meantime, if you’d like to explore your specialty, consider signing up for my upcoming platform development classes, Platform 101: Discover Your Specialty and Platform 102: Platform Building Basics for Writers.
Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids, is working on her second book for Writer’s Digest Books, Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform. She has also written over two hundred articles for magazines, newspapers, and online publications and has appeared on “Good Morning America.” Christina is a popular writing instructor who has taught hundreds of writers over the past seven years. She blogs daily at The Writer Mama Riffs and is publisher and editor of two zines, Writers on the Rise and The Writer Mama. More at http://www.thewritermama.com/.