As current international president of the Association for Accounting Marketing (AAM) (2021-2022), I speak from direct experience, having worked my way up through the ranks of this niche organization. I can honestly say, no matter what level your participation, involving yourself in a local or international organization is extremely valuable to your career and personal growth. It is the best way outside of the office to hone a wide variety of skills—from networking to leadership—while also learning more about your profession from peers and experts.
My Involvement with Professional Organizations
I have always been one to get actively involved in groups ever since I can remember. As soon as I started my job as Marketing Manager at Weinstein Spira, I naturally gravitated towards joining a relevant organization to align with my position. A friend told me about AAM, and I wasted no time, signing up for my first conference just one month later. It was a perfect fit for me, so I jumped in and volunteered for the Summit Committee, which led to chairing the Portland Summit a few years later. In 2018, I had the opportunity to join the AAM Board of Directors and chose to give more of my time to the organization by serving on the Executive Committee two years later.
One could argue that I already have a lot on my plate with caring for an infant and working a full-time job! However, the choice to accept the presidency role was a no-brainer for me. It is my way of giving back to the organization that helped me so much in the beginning and continues to play an integral role in my career. The advantages have far outweighed the hard work and time commitment, especially the leadership experience, as well as forming meaningful connections, some of whom will remain life-long friends.
Find Your Own Niche Organization
I recommend finding your own niche, whether it’s a large, specialized organization in the world of accounting or a local group in a related or different industry. The most effective way to get involved is to attend events (virtual or in-person); these may include monthly meetings of your chapter, annual conferences on a wider scale, and occasional close-by happy hours and luncheons that typically have a guest speaker/panel discussion. After trying each of these events, you will find what style of networking works best for you.
To take it to the next level, consider volunteering your time to get even more out of the organization. Joining a committee gives you a chance to meet with a small group of colleagues on a regular basis, where you get to know and trust each other over time. As you share experiences and gain in-depth knowledge, you will find that you have many transferrable, career-enhancing skills to bring back to the office. If everyone does this, it encourages a melting pot of ideas and makes for a better workplace overall.
Choosing an accounting firm that backs employee participation in a professional organization is important, too. Weinstein Spira values employee development, and volunteerism is definitely one of the avenues to achieve that. In fact, all of our employees belong to AGN International, a leading association of independent accounting firms, with something for everyone across all aspects of the field: tax, audit, and advisory. When you can tap into and share business advice and know-how, you are never alone!
Getting Involved In A Professional Organization
Once you select some professional organizations to explore, there are three ways to get involved: 1) attend, 2) volunteer, and 3) lead. Participating in such organizations makes you a well-rounded person and a more desirable employee. You will have the opportunity to socialize with like-minded people, while expanding your network and continuing to learn in the process. And if you take the next step and decide to lead, you won’t be sorry!