Original post by Shannon Otto
I know many organizations, particularly small-staffs, are short on time — and other resources — to draw young professionals into the organization. Of course, every generation communicates in different ways, but studies have shown that Generation Y prefers to communicate through technology. We’d rather shoot off an e-mail than pick up the phone, and many of us are less concerned about online privacy than previous generations (which, yes, isn’t necessarily a good thing).
As members of Generation Y enter the workforce, though, it’s crucial to reach out to them and give them a reason to join the association. Generation Y has accumulated more debt at a younger age than previous generations, and with abundant free (or very cheap!) resources available on the Internet, it can be more difficult to demonstrate “what’s in it for them” with regards to a membership.
Young people don’t always have the patience to “pay their dues” like Boomers did and wait for their chances to serve on boards. I don’t necessarily think they expect to be leaders right away, but I think they want their voices and opinions represented.
So … why not invite young professionals to serve on the board and lead committees?
(I know “young” can really be a state of mind, but I’m specifically talking about those under age 30 or 35 here.)
If your organization does this already, that’s awesome. But many, unfortunately, don’t.
If you want young people to be members of your association, let them be active in it. Young professionals have many unique skills, and different worldviews, and can bring a fresh perspective to your organization.
If you want young people to be members of your association, be inclusive and allow them to have a voice in decision-making. In turn, they’ll bring their peers into the organization.
A board or committee should include a full representation of the organization’s members. If the board is solely comprised of people with 15 or 20 years of experience, their viewpoints and opinions probably won’t differ that much. If you really want to spark innovation and change and continue to recruit new (young!) members, let them be heard, too.