I am a member and leader at multiple chapters of technology-based international professional associations, like PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server) and INETA. Through that affiliation, I have experienced many, many benefits that such a small percentage of our industry takes advantage of.
- Great people – Attendees, speakers, organizers, volunteers, sponsors, and venue hosts. Attend regularly and I promise you will make life long friends.
- A place to talk shop with peers, learn about other organizations and practices, scope out job opportunities, help others with their challenges, and mentor people new to the field.
- Great content – free training, new technology previews, and deep dives into specific topics.
- Access to experts – speakers almost always provide their contact info and give you permission to ask questions outside of the presentation. Get help on your challenges from other attendees during the social networking time. Sometimes you even get to meet Industry celebrities and national conference presenters, such as Brent Ozar, Brad McGehee, and Scott Guthrie.
- Food and beverage
- Free swag – books, software (Development software, Operating Systems, 3rd party tools, Xbox games, and more), hardware (keyboards, mice, web cams, etc.), training vouchers, discount coupons, quirky and unusual items (such as Bucky Balls), travel mugs, tote bags, back packs, and the list goes on.
- News and announcements about other events and happenings in the industry – training conferences like the PASS Summit and SQL Cruise, all day training opportunities, such as Day of .Net, Codemash, SQL Saturday, virtual training events, contests, free eBooks promotions, Job opportunities.
- Save money travelling to regional training or events by carpooling with your fellow user group friends.
- Opportunities to present – show off your own proficiency in your craft, get experience to prepare you to speak on regional or national level, establish credibility as a teacher/communicator.
- Opportunities to be a board member or volunteer to hone your leadership and logistical skills enhances your career marketability. Also, volunteering or leading a local chapter or regional event is great way to prepare you to become a board member on a national scale, if that is of interest to you.
Really there are few reasons not to attend, join, volunteer, or lead a professional organization. If you’re interested in professional organizations in general, read my popular post about 10 reasons to join a professional association.
What have I missed?