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Being a personal chef can be a solitary endeavor. You develop recipes and create menus on your own, you shop alone, you often cook and clean up alone. It’s up to you to market yourself and attract clients. You are the one responsible for growing your business.

Nothing wrong with that; in fact, it’s what we signed up for. But at some point we all need advice, education, and help with advancing our business. Joining a professional association can help with that. It should help with that. Joining a professional association means making a commitment to your career through networking with peers. It means having a forum that allows you the opportunity to take advantage of situations that arise where you are able to make personal and professional contacts that can benefit you at the present time and also provide beneficial opportunities in the future.

These days, it’s understandable that many professionals feel that the interactions they experience on social media can replace membership in a professional organization. Millennials especially have eschewed professional organizations, according to Entrepreneur magazine. They reported that in Buzz Marketing Group’s “Professional Organizations Study 2015” survey, more than one quarter of respondents referred to professional organizations as “old school.” Why did respondents, who were under the age of 40, leave older groups in record numbers?

  • 37 percent did not see value in the group.
  • 45 percent reported participation was too expensive.
  • 35 percent said the group wasn’t a community comprised of their peers.
  • 31 percent felt that groups lacked technology.
  • 27 percent said it lacked proper curation.

But, Entrepreneur also points out that that with social capital being so important to millennials, they’re being drawn into professional organizations that are millennial focused.

We think that’s short sighted. While being in a group of same-age peers can be useful, there’s a lot to be said for interacting in groups with multi-generational members who can learn from one another and expand opportunities across the breadth of experience and networks.

At APPCA, we’ve found that our members most definitely learn from the expertise of those who have been in the business for years and from the insights and knowledge of young members who are in tune with new technologies and lifestyles. We share these on our forums and at meetings–as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin. Our members tell us that they hope to get job leads from membership and that they want to get together at conventions.

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On our Facebook group page, Carolyn Tipton Wold explains that, “Joining an association has given me hundreds of ‘sounding boards’ when I find myself with questions about pricing, marketing, recipes, etc. I also gain perspective on issues I haven’t yet encountered but could in the future. I gain a lot from the annual conferences and, depending on which association(s) you join, you can also get insurance coverage for your business and access to organizational cheffing databases.”

The consensus among experts in career advancement is that there are some key gains to be made by those who invest both time and some money in joining a professional organization. The top benefits they see include:

  • Networking
  • Business operations resources
  • Access to insurance or other member perks
  • Greater exposure to jobs/clients
  • Continuing education
  • Shared information
  • Inspiration and motivation
  • Mentoring
  • Developing leadership skills

Of course, simply joining an organization won’t yield results–unless you’re looking to just add the fact of your membership to your resume or website. You need to participate, get to know other members, share information and insights.

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So, let’s say you’re game to join a professional organization. Homing in on the right ones takes some research. How do you evaluate their effectiveness for your specific needs? Here are some questions to ask when considering membership in a professional organization:

  • What resources and benefits are you looking for and are they offered by the organization? 
  • What in general does the association offer to members?
  • What are the criteria for membership?
  • Are industry-specific training materials and programs available to members?

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  • Does membership in the association offer its members professional credibility?
  • What professional continuing education opportunities does the association offer? Does the association offer professional certifications?  Are they valid? Are they meaningful in the industry?
  • Does the association provide assistance to members regarding job lead assistance? 
  • Does the association provide access to professional support such as specific general liability insurance?
  • Does the association provide internet interaction access between members for mentorship and support?
  • Does the association provide information about current trends impacting the industry?
  • Does the association provide ongoing industry support to members through blogs, social media, forums, etc.?
  • Does the association represent the members through participation in other prestigious professional organizations and the media in order to further the value of membership in the organization?
  • Does the association win awards for developing and furthering the industry it represents?
  • Is the association committed to the success of the industry and members it represents?
Dennis Nosko and Christine Robinson Accept Chef of the Year Award from Candy Wallace

Dennis Nosko and Christine Robinson Accept Chef of the Year Award from Candy Wallace

APPCA, for example, has long been committed to the success of our members. We offer all the tools and resources a budding personal chef needs to start a business–including our upcoming Personal Chef Seminar in San Diego this weekend–as well as support and guidance for those with more experience. We are revving up our Chef Summit this year. We offer this blog–which features discussions about business strategies, recipes, member spotlights, and special diets. We are active on Facebook and other social media. We operate an active member forum on our website. We provide access to general liability insurance. We help members design effective websites. We have software to support your business. We have developed an app to help potential clients find and hire personal chefs in the association. And, founder/executive director Candy Wallace is always available to help individual members address issues they’re facing with their business.

Candy being inducted by Michel Escoffier

Candy being inducted by Michel Escoffier as a Disciple of Escoffier at the prestigious Gathering of Gourmands

If you’re not already a member, make 2016 the year you join a professional association so you can get these benefits.

What are you looking for in a professional organization? What’s been holding you back from joining one?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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Caron Golden

About 

Founder of premier organization of personal chefs inspires students to follow their dreams of culinary entrepreneurship.

Candy Wallace, executive director of the American Personal & Private Chef Association (APPCA), today was recognized by Sullivan University’s National Center for Hospitality Studies as its 33rd Distinguished Guest Chef.

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