“P”rofessional Organizations and Your Development

A final note on Dr. Kaye’s keynote speech on the five “P’s” of Professional Development. Her process ties closely with a personal professional development technique of mine: the Professional Organization.

I’m a member ASTD-Orange County, a local chapter of an organization that supports workplace learning and performance professionals (i.e., trainers, instructional designers, et al). Our mission: Through exceptional learning and performance, we create a world that works better. I’ve been a part of this chapter for about eight years.

For the first two years, that membership was a line item on my resume. Little more. I attended a few meetings where I took dutiful notes, and did little else. Barely even networked. And this was fine, for a bit. The problem, however, is that this is not development.

It took a company reorganization to get me to take a training class. The Chapter facilitated a 9-session program called Total Trainer, so I took that. This course required participation, and in no time I was working with other people in the Chapter who were trying to learn more about the training and development field. I haphazardly applied what I had learned. That was development, kind of.

Yet from that course came a connection that catapulted my involvement with ASTD-Orange County from passive to active.

That was a little over five years ago. Since then, I’ve actively contributed to ASTD-Orange County.

This was development in spite of itself. I had joined because I was in a place where it made sense to join, without knowing why. I began taking the training class because I knew I needed to do my job better, and actually wanted to do it better.

As I did more with the chapter, becoming a part of the Board, filling multiple roles, I found insight into the perspective of others, I identified career possibilities, and began work on planning.

The best part of my involvement with this Professional Organization was that it continually enriched that part of my career that my job wasn’t. A few examples: ASTD-OC allowed me to experiment with eLearning techniques when my department was focused on Instructor-Led training. I worked to establish environments for ASTD-OC Chapter Members in LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, connecting me with Social Media experts. How many organizations are letting you do that? I continually interfaced with peers who were doing things other than what I was doing — not necessarily better, or worse, but other. And in that, I was exposed to environments outside the corporate silo that defined my job.

The Five “P’s,” wrapped up into one professional organization. Find one in your community. Give it a try.

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