I’VE BEEN A MEMBER of IMA® for many years, and, during that time, my experience has been that among the numerous ways this organization has supported my professional journey, none has been quite so meaningful or valuable to me as the professional network I’ve built. Some members of my network have become dear personal friends; others have helped me solve a specific problem or learn something new. And that’s what a network should do: keep you connected and provide support.
IMA was a lot smaller when I joined. Today we can count more than 80,000 members in 140 countries. That’s a lot of people spread all over the world. Use that network: Rely on it, depend on it, become someone who both serves it and is served by it.
Here are some suggestions on how networking can help you:
- Get answers. We work in a profession that’s constantly changing. And while it’s nice to think that we will always know everything about anything, sometimes we need some help from others. Every IMA member should be part of our LinkUp IMA networking site. If you haven’t signed up yet, go to your member profile on the IMA website and do so right now. Through this portal, you can reach out to any other member, anywhere in the world, with just a click.
- Identify or become a mentor. There are literally thousands of younger members of this organization who need and would value the encouragement and advice of more seasoned professionals. Consider mentoring as a way to give back to the profession. And if you’re looking for a mentor, use the LinkUp IMA network to find that perfect person who can help guide and share their experience with you.
- Support students. IMA student members are our organization’s future, and they arguably need our network the most: to decide about their future careers, to be given internship or job opportunities, and to learn about what life is like in the “real world.” Answer the call when a student reaches out to you. If you’re a student, don’t be afraid to seek out older colleagues. Their service to you probably helps them as much as they help you.
There’s one more thing. Even though this isn’t networking, take advantage of our CareerDriver® tool. It’s a great way to assess your skills, to learn about your suitability for your current job, and to explore other possible career paths. It’s free and can provide useful insight, regardless of whether you’re at the start of your professional journey or nearing the final lap. Assessing your skills is good preparation for finding a new job.
During my nearly four decades with IMA, I’ve never had a negative experience when I’ve reached out to a fellow member. I hope your experience has been the same. In fact, I invite you to share with me any positive networking experiences you’ve had. I’d love to feature them in a follow-up column. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.