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When it comes to executive leadership opportunities, associations and nonprofits clearly are where the action is.

Don’t just take my word for it.  Look at the data. 

2013 Labor Department statistics showed more than 66,000 trade and professional associations in the United States – and well over 1.2 million, if you count charities, foundations or religious organizations. Meanwhile, new applications for association status with the Internal Revenue Service number in the thousands each year.

For ambitious executives, the world has never offered more or better opportunities to build exceptional careers. But those opportunities won’t just fall from the sky. The best careers are built by finding not just a good opportunity, but by seeking out the ideal position - and taking the right steps to capture it. The best careers result from the best career planning. 

There is no one magic formula for career planning. But all effective plans are rooted in a few critical component elements. Call it my personal Six-Step Solution.

Step One:  Know what you want.

I just don’t have the time.

We all say it, or at least think it, every day. We have to make some hard decisions on how we use our available time. We have to prioritize.

Our jobs and careers demand that we set priorities, too. I hear it every day from friends and colleagues – especially when they try to explain why they aren’t more involved with their industry associations.

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