After the search of trying to find the two associations that would fit me the best, I decided on two: Society for Technical Communication (STC) and Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP):
Here are the seven things to look for when choosing an association:
1. Do you want a local, national, or international association – I decided that for me, I wanted a national association with a local chapter. It is the best of both worlds. While the association is big enough that I am able to interact with like-minded professionals around the country, I am also able to find local events offered by the chapter. I love that live in the DC area because more than likely, there will be a local chapter.
• STC is an international writers association with a DC chapter. Additionally, the main office is in Fairfax, VA, which is where I live!
• AITP is a national technology association with a DC chapter.
2. How long has the association been in operation – When I had my LLC with my ex-business partner, we decided to join a small association that had just launched that focused on technical and proposal writers. Big mistake! They never offered anything that would be of value to us. They didn’t publish their e-newsletter as often as they should have. There were barely any workshops, conferences, or seminars. Additionally, it took weeks for them to get back to us. Luckily, we got our money back.
• STC started in 1953
• AITP started in 1951
3. How many members do they have – I prefer an association that has over 3,000 members because you are able to interact with more professionals, and you don’t have to worry about them going under, as a smaller association I mentioned eventually did.
• STC has over 14,000 members
• AITP has over 7,000 members
4. Who are they targeting – Even if the association tailors to Writers, I want to make sure that there are Technical Writers who are members. A writers association that focuses on magazine and creative fiction writing is not going to be much of an asset to me.
• STC targets technical communicators
• AITP targets IT professionals
5. Their web site – A site that is hard to navigate and/or there is not much information is something that I usually shy away from. Usually, when people want to find out more information about something, they go to the Internet. Therefore, the association’s site has to be informative, easy to navigate, and user friendly.
• STC has an amazing web site. It is probably the best one I have seen from the associations I looked at.
• AITP needs to redesign their web site. Nevertheless, you can find the information you are looking for.
6. What membership types do they offer – You want to join an association that has different membership types. The usual ones are the professional, student, and premier ones. If they offer an e-membership where you are able to forego the printed publication(s), then that is definitely a plus.
• STC has five membership types: classic, e-membership, student, retired, and super SIG package.
• AITP has three membership types: professional, student, and interim (former students).
7. What are the benefits they offer – Benefits are the main reasons for preferring one association over the other. This is the main reason you are trying to find one is for the benefits that go along with it. The important ones for me are the following:
• Publications (online and printed)
• Job database
• Exclusive discounts
• Insurance options
If they are involved in social media, then that is a major plus. This means that they are a forward-thinking association that is paying attention to what is happening around them.
Newspapers and magazines are going out of business every day. I mention this because one of the usually major perks of an association is their published trade journal. They should offer a digital version of their trade journal and an e-newsletter.
These were the major reasons why I chose the two associations. Are there any other important factors that an association must have? If so, leave a comment on what those are.
Tags: Arts, Association of Information Technology Professionals, Magazine, Newspaper, professional, professional association, Publishing, Society for Technical Communication, technology assocation, Website, what to look for in an association, writers association, Writers Resources