In the United States, there are over 90,000 trade and professional organizations. Companies and individuals join for various reasons, but some of the most common are for access to the educational programs, for the opportunities to network, for the power in numbers, and for the chances to build credibility through leadership roles and awards. For example, think about the honor of being in an association with Robert Ivy, who is CEO and executive vice president of the American Institute of Architects, and who recently received the Noel Polk Lifetime Achievement Award. Read more about Robert Ivy at Wikipedia.
First of all, associations are known to be prolific sources of the latest research data and tools. For a beginner in a field, having websites, newsletters, and webinars with information geared to their needs available is a tremendous boost as they feel they do not have to figure everything out on their own. Also, huge conferences which bring together workers and leaders in the particular industry provide many opportunities to hear about job openings and to toss around the latest ideas. Building relationships and staying in touch with people in your field opens up new sources and possibilities in many areas. A chance to mingle with a “Master Architect” like Robert Ivy is a valuable experience for young architects.
Another benefit to belonging to an association is the power behind a number of voices. Political leaders pay attention when a large organization speaks up on issues that affect members. Robert Ivy provides an example involving his organization. Ivy says the collective voice of architects is strong, and their advocacy organization actually had an effect on tax legislation.
Finally, professional organization membership speaks to the integrity of your field. Joining indicates a commitment, not only to the field itself, but to all the changes, trends, and developments that are to come. Committees provide a chance to develop or enhance leadership skills, build resumes, and be recognized. Above all, members have prestige, and the status of belonging. Robert Ivy says there is a code of ethics for the AIA, and by becoming a member, you are letting clients and others know that you adhere to and are held accountable for those values.