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  • Writer's pictureSheri McGuinn

Choosing Professional Organizations

Updated: Dec 14, 2020

Belonging to the right professional organizations can help you network, learn, and advance your career. For writers and editors, the choices abound. I've spent all day checking out a list of websites collected from various publications, conference notes, and online searching.

So I won't have to do this again a year or two from now, when my status changes, I made a spreadsheet. If you've never used spreadsheets, try using one for notes.

Across the top I listed: Type of Organization, Maintains a Profile? Name/website, Cost, Yes/No/Maybe Notes, and Membership expires.

As I went through my list of websites, I found I was looking at four types of organizations: Writers Association, Editors Association, Screenwriters Associations, and Publishers Associations. Some of them were more general than that, for example WGA is not just for screenwriters, but my interest in each was one of those four areas.

The cool thing about spreadsheets is, with a simple click, I can sort it all by Type of Organization & Name, so all the Editors Associations will come first, and organizations within each category will be in alphabetical order. So I just added each association as I looked at the website, without worrying about where the notes would end up. They just went on the next line and the sorting came later.

I may add a column for Active, Maybe Later, and No and make that the first layer of sorting. That way the ones in which I have no interest will be at the bottom - where I can check when the name comes up again and see why I've not been interested.

And the sort is not locked in - I can vary it to meet whatever needs I may have in the future.

As for which organizations to join? Here are the factors I was considering today:

  • Will it help me meet my current goals?

  • How? What services will I use?

  • Is it an established, respected organization?

  • Do I qualify as a member - and if not, what do I need to achieve to qualify?

  • Is it a non-profit or a commercial enterprise? (.org or .com is a start)

  • Will I have a professional profile at the site?

  • How much does it cost?

Some day I want to join WGA, but to qualify, I have earn enough working for signatory companies within a specified time period. Right now most of my writing time is going to this blog and marketing, so I don't really need a critique network right now. There are several websites that will post resumes and gigs. I may revisit some of those if word-of-mouth and a little advertising doesn't keep me busy.

I'm leaning toward the .org groups that have been around for a hundred years and don't have a lot of stuff for sale. I'll probably join one group for each activity.


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