Why not both? Following a great conversation with education strategy expert, Debra Zabloudil with the Learning Studio, we want to dig deeper into the two different approaches to professional development strategy. In this unprecedented time, more and more professionals are finding themselves in a career quandary. Depending on the field and the role, the need for professional development changes and this may present associations with opportunities to either retain members or recruit brand new members. Debra goes into great detail about the Business and Strategy of Association Education in detail here, below we put our own quick spin on it so that membership and education can come together!
As Debra rightly pointed to, a lot of the organizations she works with are looking to keep their members in the profession of the association, therefore building professional development programs that help members grow in their current fields are more ideal for retention. Assume you are an orthodontist, work within a large group practice, and belong to the American Association of Orthodontists. The pandemic puts a hold on the group practice at large, you have only been with the group for less than two years, and the management realizes they will have to release some employees to maintain business.
The AAO now has a unique opportunity to step into the gap of your job security. By developing programs that might focus on becoming a sole practitioner, developing leadership skills to take a new role in a different practice as part of the management team, or creating a certification in new or innovative skill sets, the association could not only retain you as a member but also be helping the profession at large.
Now let’s consider you are this same orthodontist, but you look at this pandemic career quandary in a different way. You have enjoyed the practice but realize that you have a goal of getting more involved in health care through supply chain management because you have seen the effects the pandemic has had on your industry’s equipment, innovation, and materials.
Articles abound in the news about the supply issues have raised your interest and you come across a LinkedIn advertisement for the Association of Healthcare Resource & Materials Management’s certification program. You realize that the Certified Material & Resource Professional certification will help you gain critical credentials that could qualify you for your next dream job and that the AHRMM also has informational education to bring you up to speed in the industry. Voila, a new member is born.
Why not both?
These two examples demonstrate why an association needs to clearly define their audiences and understand that a key audience could be someone in an ancillary industry that might benefit from learning, as well as the current member looking to advance. Working with a consulting practice like the Learning Studio can help an association focus on education, professional development, and forward-thinking learning interventions through research, strategy sessions, and proven learning methodologies.
As Debra says, “content is king, but context is queen”. Every association should know that the time for content, content, content is right now but to get your ROI for developing content, you must know who needs to see it, engage with it, and the why behind their interest. Context is Queen indeed, especially in educational content.