Weekend Poll Results: The Significance of Professional Networks and Associations in 2017

Last weekend, I published the second annual Exceptional EA poll focusing on readers’ membership in professional associations and networks.  

Do you belong to a professional association or network?


Over the course of the weekend, you identified more than three dozen associations and networks that play a role in your professional (and social) lives. Some of these are city- or region-specific, while other networks and associations are national or international in nature.

Membership is on the rise, and 95% of you reported having such affiliations, up from 89% in last year’s poll.  Read on to see what your peers have to say.


A high percentage of respondents belong to professional associations/networks

  • 95% do belong to professional associations/networks, up from 89% last year
  • 5% of respondents don’t belong to professional associations/networks, down from 11% last year

What about that 5%? Near the end of the poll, I asked people who aren’t involved in such peer groups why that’s the case.

This was a new question in my 2017 poll, so there are no 2016 responses to which answers may be compared.

  • 33.3%: Cost
  • 33.3%: Time
  • 33.3%* selected “Other”. The person commented, “They all went online and now no one sees each other”.

*The stats show that 50% of those who responded to this question selected “Other”, but one of those four people wrote, “NA”. I take that to mean this particular respondent is involved in

68% of you belong to two or more professional associations/networks

  • no associations or networks: 8%, compared to 3% in 2016
  • one association/network: 24%, down from 21% in 2016
  • two associations/networks: 40%, up from 33% in 2016
  • three associations/networks: 20%, down from 23% in 2016
  • four associations/networks: 0%, compared to 10% in 2016
  • five associations/networks: 8%, down from 10% in 2016

Membership is on the rise

39% of you joined such a network or association in the past five years, with 17% tapping into such peer groups for the first time within the last two years. I believe this points to the rising demand for professional affiliations and supports. At the other end of the spectrum, 13.5% of respondents have maintained such affiliations for more than 15 years. 

  • participation of 1 – 2 years: 17%, compared to 18% in 2016
  • participation of 3 – 5 years: 22%, compared to 30% in 2016
  • participation of 5 – 8 years: 25%, consistent with 2016’s results
  • participation of 8 – 10 years: 6%, down from 12% in 2016
  • participation of 10 – 15 years: 19%, up from 7% in 2016
  • participation of 15 – 20 years: 5.5%, with one person noting 18 years’ of membership in one association – that’s up from 2.5% in 2016
  • participation of 20+ years: 8%, up from 3% in 2016

A great majority of respondents reported that membership has enhanced their careers

  • 79% of respondents reported that membership in such associations/networks has enhanced their careers – interestingly, this is down from 86% in 2016
  • 18% of respondents reported that membership in such associations/networks has not enhanced their careers – up from 12% in 2016
  • 3% of respondents selected, “Other”.  One respondent wrote, “They used to”.

IAAP trade show Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

How do these groups impact your careers? The greatest single factor is development of professional contacts/networks – which benefit you and your employers

  • 23%: Developing professional contacts/networks – a new criteria I included in 2017, based on responses to the 2016 poll
  • 18%: Self confidence – down from 20% in 2016
  • 17%: Professional pride – down from 34% in 2016
  • 13%: Attainment of credential(s) or certification(s) – up from 10% in 2016
  • 10%: Soft skills  – up from 6% in 2016
  • 9%: Expansion of social circle/friendships – down from 22% in 2016
  • 6%: Technical skills – up from 4% in 2016
  • 3%: CV/Resume enhancement  – 0% in 2016
  • 1% selected, “Other”.  That person wrote, “Communication”.

exec-sec-llive-dubai Courtesy Executive Secretary

78% of you believe your membership in such associations has enhanced your workplace performance

  • Yes: 78% (another new question this year; no benchmark from 2016)
  • No: 22%

A slightly lower percentage believe these associations have also enhanced your social lives

  • Yes: 72%, down from 87% in 2016
  • No: 28%

Almost two thirds of you have already held leadership positions within such associations/networks

  • 65% of respondents have held leadership positions within such associations/networks -down from 70% in 2016
  • 35% of respondents have not held leadership positions within such associations/networks – up from 28% in 2016. If you’ve not yet done so, could 2017 be your year?

Admin Professionals Day Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Only 32% reported that their employers sponsor internal/corporate peer/development associations for roles such as theirs

This is down from 59.5% in my 2016 poll. What’s happening? Are internal budgets being reallocated, or are such funds being directed to membership in external associations?

  • 32%: yes; these are sponsored – as above, this is down from 59.5% in 2016
  • 65%: no; these are not sponsored – up from 38.5% in 2016
  • 3% of respondents selected, “Other”. One person commented, “Not every time”.

More than half of you fund such association/network fees and costs personally

  • 56% of respondents reported that they fund such fees and costs personally, up from 49% last year
  • 23% of respondents report that their employers fund such costs, down only 2% from last year
  • 13% of respondents report that there’s joint funding such costs; the employers pay some costs, and respondents pay others. This is down from 20% last year.
  • 8% of respondents selected, “n/a – no fees or costs involved in this particular association”. That’s compared to 5% of you last year.

These next three questions are new to my 2017 poll, and your responses provide informative benchmarks for future years.

What about male membership in your networks and associations?

  • 13% of you reported that there are no male members in our networks/associations
  • 68% of you estimated the male membership to be between 1 – 5% of total membership
  • 10% of you estimated the male membership to be between 6 – 10% of total membership
  • 3% of you estimated the male membership to be between 11 – 20% of total membership
  • 8% of you selected “Other”. Comments included, “Of PA Networks – chamber would be more men”. Others offered comments suggesting they didn’t know, or were unsure.

Next, I asked if your professional associations offered credentials. A whopping 69% of them do.

Awards, anyone? 69% of you reported that your networks or associations offer such peer recognition

  • 69%: Yes
  • 28%: No
  • 3% selected “Other”. One person indicated “Network”, which suggests that more than 69% of such groups offer awards.
What are these organisations that play such significant parts in your careers?

Here they are! Some are local or regional, while others represent global organisations with chapters or networks in a number of countries or continents.

  1. AAA – Association of Administrative Assistants (Canada)
  2. AAPNZ – Association of Administrative Professionals New Zealand
  3. Aberdeen PA (Scotland)
  4. AEAP – The Association of Executive and Administrative Professionals (USA)
  5. AGB – Association of Governing Boards (USA)
  6. APAI – Association of PAs in Ireland
  7. ASAP – American Society of Administrative Professionals
  8. AUA – Association of University Administrators
  9. Bristol PA Network
  10. bsb – Bur Bundesverband Sekretariat und Büromanagement e. V. (Germany)
  11. Cardiff PA Network (Wales)
  12. CICan-GPOP – Colleges and Institutes Canada: Governance and President’s Office Professionals
  13. CityCo PA Network (England)
  14. Directions – Australia
  15. EAN (Executive Assistant Network) Australia
  16. EPAA – Executive & Personal Assistants Association (UK)
  17. EUMA  – soon to be known as IMA – International Management Assistants (Europe, UK)
  18. EUMA France
  19. EUMA UK – European Management Assistants UK
  20. Exeter PA Network (England)
  21. Global PA Association
  22. IAAP – International Association of Administrative Professionals (international)
  23. IAM – Institute of Administrative Management (international)
  24. ICD – Institute of Corporate Directors
  25. Instam
  26. Manchester PA Network
  27. MEAG – Melbourne Group (Australia)
  28. NAFE – National Association for Female Executives
  29. NAHPA (EDPA) – National Association of Headteachers’ PAs
  30. NAPAHE – National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education
  31. NHS PA Network
  32. Personal Best NI PA Forum (Northern Ireland)
  33. secretary.IT Manager Assistant Network (Italy)
  34. Society for Education & Training (UK)
  35. Supporting Professionals Network – Leeds Beckett
  36. SW1 Network
  37. The PA Hub (UK)
  38. Other: Readers listed their Chambers of Commerce and other resources/trainers such as  Be the Ultimate Assistant, DeskDemon, Office Dynamics, Office Heroes, and Office Ninjas   

Note: In addition to my photography, some of the photos in this post are courtesy of secretary.IT and Executive Secretary

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