In the pre Web Worker era, many of us looked to professional organizations for networking, support and a chance to establish ourselves as experts in our community. As we have moved to more virtual work environments in our professions, we have tried to fill this same need using networking sites like Twitter, Linkedin or FaceBook.
But did you know that there are also professional associations available for many for us? For example, the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) is a non-profit organization dedicated to education and development of those in the Virtual Assistance profession.
My initial introduction to the world of Virtual Assistants came from a collaboration with a local VA who provides administrative support for small business and associations. Initially my definition of a Virtual Assistant was molded by her and her business model which was providing executive and secretarial services.
In recent months though I have found that it is really much more expansive than that and fits a variety of professions. In fact, it seems much more focused on the delivery method than the type of work performed.
So what is a Virtual Assistant?
The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) uses the following definition:
“A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and/or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office on a contractual basis.”
Does this sound like you? I know it certainly fits for me, and I imagine quite a few Web Worker Daily readers as well.
How can you benefit from a Professional Organization membership?
Joining a Professional Association usually brings benefits such as:
Access to member resources including forms and contracts libraries.
Inclusion in a member directory for networking and marketing.
Message boards and forums for support and networking.
Meetups, seminars and other events.
Certification Eligibility – The IVAA for example offers the CVA (Certified Virtual Assistant), Ethics Check and CRESS (Certified Real Estate Support Specialist) certifications.
In addition, many associations establish a Code of Ethics that governs the behavior of its members. Abiding by these rules of behavior is often a condition of membership and failure to do so can put your membership in jeopardy.
Association membership is usually not without cost though. The IVAA offers a couple of different levels starting at $105/YR / renewals $99/YR and that seems to be in the ballpark of the other similar associations that I looked at. It is obviously important to decide if the benefits of joining will outweigh the yearly fees.
The International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA) is the leading Professional Association for VAs but not the only one – other associations include the International Association of Virtual Office Assistants (IAVOA) and the Virtual Assistance Chamber of Commerce .
While it is true that the social networking has partially taken on this role, joining a professional organization can provide benefits above and beyond what you are receiving now and really should receive serious consideration as a part of your overall business plan.
Are you a member of a professional organization? What benefit does it provide to you that makes it worthwhile?