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How can I make the most of my membership in a professional association?

Q: How can I make the most of my membership in a professional association?
A: Whether it’s a bar association, a business or community organization, or a trade group, be more than a member by being a leader…even from the beginning. Get to know the officers and the committee heads most pertinent to your practice, and offer to help on a project of note. See where there is a substantive need and propose that you fill it, such as by starting a blog or a working group. Spearhead and moderate a program, take a lead oar for an annual event, write an article featuring the association, or offer to be the liaison to another related organization.
It’s never too soon to participate actively. Being a passive member, as you note, is not necessary or necessarily smart. Plus, it’s a lot less fun.