Initially, social media dealt a blow to associations with a drop in membership among young professionals. "Today, that same group is the number one potential growth segment for associations," says Maria Ungaro, Vice-President, Kellen Company, an association management company that works with 200 trade and professional societies. Ungaro cites virtual offices, the freelance economy and the desire to have a sense of community as contributing factors.

7 reasons young professionals are joining associations:

1. Networking. "Building leads. They're meeting new people at industry events, both peers as well as more experienced members to add to their networks," says Ungaro.

2. Company visibility. "There are multiple ways to increase visibility i.e. web directory, member news, and participating on panels. Many organizations have blogs that allow members to write and showcase thought leadership. Members can add press releases to industry websites, respond to items on social and take part on panels."

3. Learn new skills. "Many join organization committees to learn new skills."

4. Leadership opportunities. "Board positions and chairmanships offer increased visibility within an industry. Board members are usually listed on websites, stationery, announced in press releases, showcased at events, and given special privileges."

5. Professional Development. "Organizational programming. Most organizations have special events that are open only to members that allow for more interaction and learning."

6. Recruitment. "Individuals who join associations are likely engaged in the industry, so it's a solid place to source new opportunities or talent."

7. Partner Programs. "Many organizations have discounts with shipping like FedEx, office supplies like Staples or car services," says Ungaro.

* Disclosure--Mr. Finn produces Content Magazine for The Content Council, which is managed by the Kellen Company.