Written By: Gillian Rusike

Professional Development Association nowadays exist for every profession. Membership to some of the organisations are mandatory while others are optional but it is very important and beneficial to any professional to  be part of it.

While career networks share similar characteristics with other professional networks, these networks have distinct attributes with members selecting a network to support career advancement.

But some may want to understand the role of a professional association or body. Well, firstly most associations seek to further the importance of a specific profession and their members.

Employers of today are asking for membership to a professional association as a pre-requisite in vacancy advertisements.

Nowadays in vacancy advertisements, membership to a professional body or organisation has become a pre-requisite from would-be employers.

Professional Associations or bodies have a fundamental role to play in the development of their member careers as well as the profession itself. The Foremost among the goals of most Associations is the oversight and regulation of professional standards and practices, with the public interest in mind.

Others take up a more disciplinary role for members in that particular profession for maintaining ethical standards. A major or fundamental role is to control the awarding of professional qualification certificates, and even issuing the license of practice.

There’s no uniform constitution that defines a professional organization. Many associations dedicate themselves to the interest of the members.

A secondary but no less important purpose of any organization is to provide a venue for members to communicate and network with each other, through conventions, meetings, and trade publications. Lastly, a professional organization strives to provide its members with resources for ongoing learning and career advancement.

The Marketers Association of Zimbabwe, is one such professional body. It was established in 2007 after the realisation that the marketing profession was not being given the recognition it deserves. Being given the recognition it deserves.

The Association also represents the broad spectrum of marketing related professionals which include, sales, business development, media, advertising, customer service, public relations, digital marketing amongst others.

Hence membership to the Association is open to those in Public Relations, Sales, Advertising customer service and digital marketing as well as corporates.

And why must one be a member of a professional body?

There are so many benefits that can be reaped from becoming a member of a professional body or association and they worth a small investment in membership fees.

Networking opportunities

Joining a professional can deepen your existing business relationships and forge new contacts regularly. Iron sharpens iron, as a member of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe you network with like-minded professionals, share experiences and challenges and grow.

The networking is usually not restricted to the exchange of business cards, it is through meetings, socials, and conferences, sporting activities, Whatsapp group chats and being a member to sub-committees of the association.

MAZ propagates networking though events such as the Marketers Luncheon, Winter School, Annual Marketers Convention, boot camps, summer school, Annual Marketers Golf among others.

The above mentioned platforms and activities give members of the Association to meet and network, share ideas and even contribute to the growth of the Association in general. WhatsApp chat groups for the Association have been created and have been classified with the Senior Executive members group for the C-suite and middle to top managers. The relationships created through the networks are mostly rich, and an ongoing source of ideas and inspiration.

Professional development

Members usually have access to professional development resources to enhance skills and knowledge and to stay up to date on changes within their field. Professional associations often encourage members to further their education by offering courses or working with accredited institutions linked to their profession .Newsletters and publications published by the association give an opportunity to members to polish their communication skills and learn about the advances in their field. Access to research material and industry information is another reason behind joining professional associations. MAZ has come up with a Training department that offers courses linked to the marketing profession. Some of the courses offered by the MAZ include the ZimChartered Marketer program, Marketing Practitioner Status, certificate in Digital Marketing program, Diploma in Public Relations and Corporate Reputation Management held in conjunction with Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE), Marketing Leadership Development Program, Business Leadership Program, short courses and in-house training programs for businesses.

Of late, MAZ introduced monthly and weekly Whatsapp chats where experts are invited to share their knowledge and expertise with members.

Employment or vacancies

Companies often contact associations when flighting vacancies or posts in their organisations. Membership to a professional association is often an advantage as career opportunities are flighted through for members. It provides an opportunity to connect with prospective employers.  As MAZ we always receive vacancy advertisements from not only corporate members but also other players in the economy and we flight them on our platforms. And these employers often say that preference is MAZ members.

Resume enhancement

Listing membership in a professional organization is an excellent addition to a resume. It is impressive to the prospective employer as it shows that one is dedicated to staying connected in their profession.

Keeping up to date with latest career trends or developments

Most Associations often research further on career trends and developments globally so that their members do log lag behind. This information is often shared to members in regular newsletters or emails .For example in Marketing, Digital Marketing has become a pre-requisite not for only marketing professionals but for all related professions. This information is shared with marketers together with other skills that go hand in hand with the latest technological development such as Big Data Analytics, artificial intelligence and chatbots technology.

Encouraging Industry Competitiveness and Recognising Performance

Annually Associations or professional bodies host awards that seek to recognise their corporate or individual members. These are often held at the end of the year. MAZ does that through its Annual Exceptional Marketing Awards which seek to recognise organisations and individuals who would have achieved outstanding success in their planning and implementation of marketing and related areas strategies, annually.

The overarching goal of the awards is to honour organizations and people who would have exhibited exceptional marketing prowess and at the same time showing professionalism at the highest level.

MAZ also hosts the Superbrand Awards which recognise brand effort and excellence throughout the year. The Superbrand Awards are recognised as the among the top business awards in Zimbabwe.

Joining a professional organisation is beneficial for your own professional development and the future of your company. The connections you will make, the resources available to you and the ideas and advice you will get, represent an outstanding return.  It could turn out to be one of the best things you could do for yourself!”

Gillian Rusike is the founder and Executive Secretary of the Marketers Association of Zimbabwe.