There’s an Association for Everything

by Andy Huston

There’s an association for everything. I am proud to say that the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors has been and continues to be my professional home after nearly two decades because of its purpose, programming, and people. But by no means does that mean AFA is the only professional association to which I belong.

There’s an association for everything and that can open up a world of opportunities for your professional development. Consider associations that help you grow in your role today and where you aspire to go in your career. With your goals in mind, evaluate the offering of their programs, services, and networking opportunities. You may want to consider associations outside of the alphabet soup of higher education and fraternal associations.

There’s an association for everything but only resources for some things. Time and money are finite – especially as colleagues share how universities are slashing professional development budgets – prioritizing your investments is important. This might require some creativity on your part. Not all associations are fortunate enough to have a robust scholarship program to help provide access to programming like the AFA Foundation. You also might be surprised to learn how much access might be publicly available. Some associations have member-guest events, free or sponsored programming, social media/networking, public networking (recruitment) events, and online publications. This front-end investment of time can help you assess whether or not a future investment of dollars is needed.

There’s an association for everything so make membership work for you. At one point in my career, I recognized that I had relocated to Indianapolis but with the demands of work and travel hadn’t meaningfully connected outside the bubble of fraternity/sorority life staffers. I aimed to build a sense of local connection while gaining more exposure to areas of professional interest like fundraising, marketing, and association management. I got involved in the Indianapolis Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Indianapolis Chapter of the American Marketing Association, and the Indiana Society of Association Executives. In each of those associations, I sought the opportunity to volunteer on a project and to submit content for their programming as a way to extract maximum value from my investment. That extra effort was a quick way to advance my goal of building a local, professional network. As a result, I was exposed to new ideas and concepts outside of fraternity/sorority life and higher education to expand my thinking about how we do things. The relationships formed through those associations helped me feel better connected to where I lived. More significantly, I’ve hired people that I met through these networks and developed new vendor-partner relationships for the betterment of Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity.

There’s an association for everything where you can do a bit of anything. Association membership is what you make it. We all get that concept as it relates to fraternities and sororities. One way that I’ve grown my skillsets is by seeking out specific volunteer opportunities to that end. I was fortunate enough to be asked by Josh Orendi to help with the AFA Region 3 Membership, Marketing, and Retention (MMR) team early in my membership. Working on that membership and marketing process was a constructive learning process. I continued to grow my fundraising, financial management, and board development skills during my most recent tenure as AFA Foundation Treasurer. Take this article as an ask by a colleague to find a volunteer role in a professional association that will help you develop or hone a skillset for your professional journey. Discuss these opportunities with your supervisor, a colleague, or a friend in the association. Every association has lots of work to be done, and it is a great way to grow in ways beyond their core resources and programs.

There’s an association for everything, so highlight your competencies. Earning a credential is a significant signal of competency. It can validate your confidence in a given subject matter and help you stand out from the crowd during a search process or add credibility to your current role. I encourage you to explore relevant credential opportunities to work into your professional development plan. I earned the Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from ASAE. Several colleagues on our Foundation staff have the Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) credential. Sigma Alpha Mu’s Assistant Executive Director has earned the Certified Student Affairs Educator-Fraternity and Sorority Life (CSAEd-FSL™) credential, which was designed exclusively for fraternity and sorority life.

There’s an association for everything you need waiting for you.

 

About the author:

Andy Huston serves as Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity’s Executive Director. He has spent his career advancing the positive impact of fraternity and sorority life. Andy and his wife Amber are parents to two young children that they hope can benefit from the fraternity/sorority experience.

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