6 Benefits of Joining a Professional Community

Opening yourself up to new ideas and contacts is rarely a bad decision.

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By Jonathan Long

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Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Professional communities offer plenty of benefits on general entrepreneurship and more niche-focused communities. Some popular options include Entrepreneurs' Organization, Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), YPO and Startup Grind.

If you aren't taking advantage of what professional communities have to offer in terms of mentorship, advice, networking and support, then you're missing out.

While it would be impossible to join and participate in every available community, selecting one or two to become involved with can have a positive impact on your business. I collaborated with six entrepreneurs in the legal industry to highlight the key benefits of joining a professional community.

1. Provides access to unlimited resources.

I'm a member of one professional community, and throughout the years, I have connected with members that have given me access to every resource imaginable. All of these resources have been instrumental in helping me grow my business.

I would say this is one of the biggest benefits I have personally experienced, and Matt Willens of Willens Law Offices agrees, adding, "So many valuable resources can be untapped through community networking, from vendor introductions to funding and capital access. Try to make introductions when you see fit, as members will typically be more willing to help if they see you are actively trying to benefit the community as well."

Related: 12 Organizations Entrepreneurs Need to Join

2. It gets you out of the office to recharge.

Entrepreneurship can be a lonely place. Late nights and weekends in the office are commonplace. Being a member of a professional community that hosts live events can benefit you in many ways.

"You have to get out of the office once in a while and pull yourself away from your business. If not, you will experience burnout. A professional community is going to help you connect with like-minded entrepreneurs who share the same interests. These events can be the beginning of lifelong friendships, and help you build a solid network of people you can turn to during difficult and frustrating times," explains Scott Grossman of Grossman Law Firm.

3. It gets your name (and your company's name) out there.

I have been featured on countless media outlets through my community, which helped me a great deal in terms of social proof and marketing. This increased visibility was essential for my personal brand and company growth, especially in the beginning.

"People like to do business with a company that features a familiar face. This is why law firm marketing and advertising will almost always feature the firm's team. A professional community helps to get your name and face out there, both nationally and locally. Your activity within the community has a direct impact on your visibility," adds Bill Henry, Partner at Robinson & Henry, P.C.

Related: Break the Ice: 8 Networking Tips for Introverts

4. You get exposed to new perspectives.

Marc Yonker of Winters & Yonker says, "Business owners and entrepreneurs are often in their own little bubble, and being around professionals in other industries can have a positive impact on your growth and development. Everything that we focus on at our firm is legal-focused. When I am around entrepreneurs in other businesses, it exposes me to new ideas and outlooks. It's very healthy."

When I started my first marketing agency I had blinders on, focusing only on what I thought would benefit my company's growth and success. Had I joined my professional community earlier, I would have benefited from the many ideas and perspectives I would have been exposed to.

5. Authentic mentoring relationships.

It's hard to scroll down your Facebook feed without seeing an ad for business coaching or some other miracle program claiming to have the answers to all of your problems. Those people aren't mentors -- they are bottom feeders looking to take advantage of people.

Professional communities are often the breeding ground for authentic mentoring relationships -- ones that don't require you to pay $997 a month to some self-proclaimed guru. "Many professional communities will give you access to several individuals that you can discuss your greatest fears and challenges with. These relationships begin because the members genuinely want to see each other succeed, and they can contribute a lot to self-growth as a business owner," suggests Josh Burnett of Florida Ticket Firm.

Related: Why So Many People Resist Networking and Miss Out

6. More business.

Professional communities also give you access to an entire group of people that potentially need the product or service you offer -- or they can introduce you to their contacts that do. More leads, sales and revenue is often a benefit of being an active member of a community.

Catherine Jacobs, COO of McQuarrie, LLP has a tip for those new to a professional community. "Don't be annoying and come across as spammy. Nobody wants to network with the person constantly self-promoting. If you provide value to other members you will automatically draw interest in what it is that you and your business offers."

Jonathan Long

Founder, Uber Brands

Jonathan Long is the founder of Uber Brands, a brand-development agency focusing on ecommerce.

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