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Employees everywhere are tapping their professional networks, as they look for new jobs or prepare for the possibility of a pink slip.

Judy Beebe, an executive assistant at Parsons Brinckerhoff in Seattle, serves on the board of the local chapter of an industry-specific association, Society for Design Administration (SDA), for the engineering, architecture and construction industries. She has also served as her chapter’s president and on the executive committee of the national SDA. It helps keep her connected.

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Ways to squeeze the most out of a membership:

Get your name in print. Most local chapters of IAAP, for example, have newsletters that are always hungry for writers to fill the space. Beebe says getting published and “sharing your knowledge is a way for you to grow and be recognized—and it’s also networking.”

Flaunt your leadership skills.
“Joining a professional organization doesn’t just mean paying the dues and reading the newsletter,” Beebe says. “You’ve got to really participate and help make a difference. That in turn helps your career.” 

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Network your way past challenges. Stumped over a problem? Send a shout-out to local chapter members to see how they’ve handled similar situations.

Stay visible. Beebe says that, thanks to staying active in SDA, she now knows plenty of principals and managers within the engineering industry.

“I would think that if I got laid off at my current job and there were other openings elsewhere, I would have an edge over other candidates,” says Beebe, “because people know of me and where I have experience.”

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