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Professional Groups and Communities of Practice

Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization

Take time to do research on the profession organization before joining to ensure it is a proper fit for you. Most professional organizations have membership fees associated with them. [1]

Benefits of professional organizations

Benefits vary across organizations; however, some of the more common benefits include: [1]

  • regular newsletter or magazine
  • event listing
  • Web site with additional resources
  • job listings and job fairs
  • chapter meetings and networking opportunities
  • mentorship opportunities
  • conference or other opportunity discounts

Recommendations for increased learning

To truly benefit from professional organization, you must participate. This means looking at everything as a learning opportunity. Here are suggestions for staying current: [2]

  • Attend chapter meetings
  • Participate on committees of interest
  • Write articles for organization newsletters and magazines
  • Deliver presentations at chapter meetings and conferences
  • Attend region and national conferences
  • Meet members both new and old and network with them
  • Join the LinkedIn group for your professional organization
  • Sign up to receive LinkedIn email digests of current activities posted in organization
  • Participate in LinkedIn discussions for professional organization

Communities of Practice

"Communities of practice are groups of people who share ideas and insights, help each other solve problems and develop a common practice or approach to the field." [3] In most cases, CoPs form naturally when like minded individuals find each over a common topic of interest. [4]

McDermott [3] outlines three key dimensions of Communities of Practice:

  • Knowledge
    • Explicit information
    • Tacit know-how, thinking
  • Community
    • Individual
    • Community
  • Integration with work
    • Special events
    • Tightly integrated with work

Documenting efforts in a community can be challenging in respects to quantity and type of audience being addressed. [3] "Document ideas, insights, or procedures only when it is clear that the effort involved will be valuable to both the company and the community and when the users’ context can be clearly identified." [3] McDermott recommends building mechanisms for capturing and sharing information with a large community. The challenge when capturing solutions is that people often feel it is additional work. Ideally, organizations should have systems that are already being used to report and collect information during day-to-day operations.

Communities of practice should be built "when it is important for individuals to use the latest technology or common methods." [3]

Here are guidleines for building Communities of Practice: [3]

  • Build communities on strategically important topics
  • Provide both human and non-human resources
  • Use multiple methods for sharing information
  • Help people pull information from system. This allows the information to work for them when they need it.
  • Organizations need to encourage learning and support communities of practice
  • Foster what already works in an organization

More information on this topic


  1. 1.0 1.1 Joss, M. (2006). Getting the Most From Professional Organizations. Alloy Education. Retrieved from
  2. Hayes, K. (n.d.). Making the Most of Professional Organizations. Retrieved from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 McDermott, R. (1999). Nurturing Three Dimensional Communities of Practice: How to get the most out of human networks. The Dimensions of Community. Retrieved from
  4. Padilla, j. (2010). Communities of Practice- Getting The Most Out of Sharing Knowledge. What a wonderful life.... Retrieved from

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