Twice in the last week, I've been asked about my membership in professional associations and trade groups. One was a friend of mine who's looking for community. Another was in response to a Linkedin question. (BTW, if you're not using this channel to promote yourself, share your expertise and get useful information, you're missing out!).
I used to belong to several, but I've whittled it down to groups that meet my business needs, whether that's professional development or marketing/networking. On the PD side, I look for seminars (web-based or in-person) on subjects that will improve my business in one way or another, and led by legitimate experts and not just people trying to sell their products or services. On the marketing/networking side, I look for a membership that is mostly decision-makers or thought-leaders who can help me make the connections I need to achieve operational goals. In both cases, I also look for active online communities where benefits extend beyond meetings and classes. With the both time and money crunched to the max these days, there's more value than ever in a strong online presence where we can share ideas, take webinars and keep the momentum going.
You can read how others decide to join professional groups (or not) via the Linkedin thread here