Engaging the next generation now is a big concern for many associations. Engaging your members in general is tough. But engaging the young professional sector presents a whole new set of challenges. How can you showcase your association’s value - value that can’t be accessed elsewhere, or worse, for free? How can you get your YP members to attend events where many people there are, in fact, twice their age?
Well let me ask you this: How much of your association’s marketing material is designed for young professionals? Not can be used for but is exclusively for? If the answer is “not much,” that may be the missing link.
You may have a page on your website for young professionals - and that’s definitely a good first step - but you may want to take that a step further by creating a young professionals microsite. Think of it as a community (and MAJOR resource) for your young professional members (and prospects in general, for that matter).
What would go on that microsite? A few ideas:
- The benefits of joining your association from a young professional’s standpoint - If you think about it, the benefits that appeal to your long-term members are probably very different than those that appeal to young professionals. Young professionals are interested in jobs, career training, networking, etc. Having a page that hones in on those specific benefits is going to be much more appealing (and convincing) than a page that hones in on all of your member benefits.
- Upcoming events for your young professional members - You want to invite your young professional members to all of your events, but ideally, you want to have events exclusively for your YP members as well. Happy hours, volunteer opportunities, lunch and learns, etc. Start by putting together a YP event plan, then market those events heavily on your YP microsite. (To help you get started, check out our post, 15 Event Ideas for Your Young Professional Members.)
- A mentoring program for your young professional members - Like we said, young professionals care about building their careers, and what better way to help them do that than by pairing them with someone who’s been there and done that? Yup, we’re talking about a mentoring program. Now mentoring programs can sometimes be difficult to set up (particularly if participation is an issue), but at the very least, consider having one or two contacts that your YP members can reach out to with questions/to seek advice.
- Young professional member spotlights - A big factor in getting YPs to stay with your association involves how many friends they have in your association. (More friends = more of a reason to stay.) That said, help your young professional members get to know other young professional members by having YP member spotlights on your YP microsite. It could be as simple as a Q&A-style blog post, highlighting where the member went to school, what their current job is, what their future goals are, what they like to do for fun, etc. And don’t forget to include a headshot. That’s a great conversation starter for YPs, both online and at events. (“Hey, I saw your member spotlight online! I was a computer science major too!”)
Having a hard time picturing what this YP microsite would look like at your association? Here’s a great example from the Public Relations Society of America.
Want more tips for engaging young professionals at your association? Check out our free guide, The March of the Millennials: Tips for Engaging the Next Generation Now!