Gina Theofilidou 2023

The Dual Nature of Belonging: Exploring the Responsibilities of Association Membership

In today's fast-paced society, it is more crucial than ever to find a place to belong and actively engage in a community. As social beings by nature, humans have a tremendous need for belonging and community. When we actively engage in a community, we not only feel a sense of belonging but also contribute to its expansion and success.

What advantages come from belonging

If we were to describe belonging, I would say it is the feeling of acceptance, inclusion, and importance as a part of a group or community. It is an essential human need. Belonging is the source of one's sense of security, identity, and purpose. It enables us to both foster a sense of community and while allowing us to enjoy our individuality.

Emotional Wellness: Belonging to a group provides us with a sense of emotional support, which helps to minimize feelings of loneliness, isolation, and alienation. In a safe setting, we may openly express ourselves, share our experiences, and elicit sympathy and understanding from others.

Personal development: By interacting with a variety of people, we increase our self-awareness, boost our self-esteem, obtain new perspectives, and learn important life skills.

Shared Objectives and Values: People get a sense of fulfilment and significance when they have a sense of shared purpose.

Social Support: Communities provide a vital network of support during trying times. When we need one other for emotional support, practical help, or collaborative problem-solving, we can rely on one another. We have many instances of this kind of inter-member support in IMA! Every national team can provide best practices and ways for helping its members.

That is the one part of belonging, the easygoing one perhaps.  

But there is another side, and it is different because in that side, belonging it is a win-win situation. It involves give and take. It comes with benefits and responsibilities. It involves dedication and enjoyment. It comes with accountability, accountability of our own decision to do that crucial step aiming to expand our horizons and unlock new opportunities.

Depending on their mission, associations are active, dynamic organizations that are essential to society or the labour market. Associations speak with one voice on behalf of its members, shape public policy, and promote advancement in their fields. Associations make a vital contribution to the expansion, development, and advancement of the communities and professions they represent through their devotion and dedication.

Can you imagine the difference in our daily work or how we are treated in the companies or what would have happened in our profession, if there were no people that have taken the responsibility to create, to inform, to promote the importance of our role? If we are here now, is because some one took the responsibility to react and chose not to be a pathetic receiver of what was happening.

People who share common goals, interests, and a desire to work together establish associations. More than benefits and privileges come with membership in an association; there is also requirements to actively support and contribute to the mission and core principles of the group.

Although there might not be specific responsibilities assigned upon application approval and, in truth, I don't believe that, given our positions and experience, we need to have something in writing before we can respect it, follow it, and perform it, as members we do have duties to:

Active engagement and participation in association activities and initiatives, attending meetings & events, sharing insights, thoughts, ideas, offering support and contributing to discussions, while upholding values and ethical standards.

Contribute to the Association's Goals by offering our knowledge, abilities, and resources and by actively serving on committees, mentoring others, or actively taking part in initiatives.

Share Successes and Challenges. Celebrate milestones, achievements, and request for feedback when we are facing challenges. We are all dancing in the same rhythm in our offices.

Encouraging a favourable community culture by valuing different points of view and promoting a secure and inviting atmosphere.

Acting as an Ambassador. You chose to be here, so here you are. Be happy to be here, then!  because you can influence how industry standards, rules, and regulations are shaped. Create an elevator pitch with your colleagues in the network outlining who you are, what you do professionally, and why joining an association is important to your career advancement if you don't believe that you can effectively explain it to the world.

Provide constructive feedback and ideas to the Board Members for enhancing the association's programs, initiatives, or communication channels. We are all a part of the larger picture; we are the team, we are IMA.

Harness the Power of social media! Be the voice of the reasons you joined!

  • Use your social media networks to distribute association updates and content that has been provided by the association. By doing this, you raise awareness of it and show that you support its initiatives.
  • Participate in online debates: Participate in online forums, groups, and discussions pertaining to the association's industry or field of study. Share your perspective, pose thought-provoking queries, and participate in worthwhile discussions. 
  • Highlight association initiatives and events, and when you attend, document and post about your experiences online. Post pictures, share your essential insights, and inspire participation from others.
  • When sharing content about the association and the profession, using hashtags and tagging other members makes it more discoverable. Ask you board members about which hashtags to use or propose hashtags, tag other users to promote connections and dialogue with people who share your interests.

Belonging to an association is not just joining a group, it's discovering the power within you to make a difference, grow exponentially, and shape the future of your field. Together, we unlock endless possibilities, inspire one another, and create a community where our collective efforts create lasting impact.

Embrace the strength of belonging! Embrace the strength of responsibility!


Gina Theofilidou, Chair IMA Greece
Virtual Business Support Professional, Owner of Your Distance Assistance