Thanks to my friend and colleague Eve Bodeux for suggesting this timely post! Now that we’re less than a month from the new year, you’re probably receiving membership renewal notices from the professional associations to which you belong. You may also be receiving solicitations to join new associations. Following are some tips on deciding whether to renew (or not), join (or not) or invest your time (or not) in professional associations.
First, there may be an objective reason to renew some of your memberships. For example, if you are ATA-certified, you are required to maintain your ATA membership in order to use the Certified Translator credential. If you belong to any associations that have a similar policy, or that charge a late fee if you do not renew on time, pay those dues first.
Then, you might want to look at whether you made the most of your association memberships in 2010. For example, many associations allow non-members to attend their events by paying a higher fee. Did you attend enough events to recoup your membership dues investment, or would you be better off letting your membership lapse and paying the non-member fee? Is the association’s e-mail list particularly valuable? If you joined the association for networking purposes, did you actually land some translation projects through your contacts?
To avoid redundancy, research whether you are a member of any associations through an association you already belong to. For example, Colorado Translators Association purchases a yearly institutional membership to the Denver World Trade Center, so our members can attend WTC events at the member price. Likewise, FIT, the International Federation of Translators, allows members of its member associations (including ATA) to attend its events.
And a few pieces of unsolicited advice:
- Be selective about how many event-based associations you join. For example, there are several great event-based professional associations in Denver that I could benefit from joining. However, when I look realistically at how many of those events I will actually attend, membership looks less attractive.
- Consider joining the translators’ association in your non-English language country if they’ll take you as a member. Especially if these associations have active e-mail lists, they can be excellent networking venues because you, as a US-based translator, are a rare commodity!
- Try to belong to at least one association related to your specialization(s). This does not have to be expensive; I recently joined the Society for International Development for 35 euros per year.
Any other tips on professional association memberships?