It was one of the biggest topics (and challenges) of 2017. And in 2018, we’re STILL talking about it.
The topic? Engaging young professionals.
You know as well as we do, it’s not easy! You’ve probably read a lot about it, and maybe even tried a few new tactics in the past couple of years. But if you’re still struggling to engage Millennial members (and Gen Z members, for that matter), you’re not alone.
Fortunately, the Georgia Society of Association Executives hosted a webinar a couple of weeks ago centered around this very topic. You’ve probably heard that one of the best ways to engage young professionals is to get them involved in the process - to create a task force, so to speak. Well that’s certainly true, but how do you create an effective young professionals task force at your association (particularly when you’re already struggling to engage young professionals)?
Aaron Manogue, Marketing Manager at AMPED Association Management, had some ideas. (And note: He IS a young professional who’s created a successful young professionals task force.)
Step 1: Acknowledge that you WILL need help
To start, you’ll need to identify at least two young professional leaders. You’ll want to pick a couple young professionals who are involved (attend meetings and events, volunteer, etc.) and, more importantly, are self-motivated.
Tip: Keep a running list of possible candidates. Sometimes people get busy, and you may need a backup to take over.
Step 2: Identify your definition of a young professional
This is perhaps the most important step (and the most difficult). There’s no standard definition of a young professional, so you’ll need to come up with a definition for your association.
Tip: A lot of association’s define young professionals by their age. But be careful! If you use age, you’ll start to exclude people (and someone who’s 55, but new to the industry may consider themselves a young professional). To avoid unnecessary exclusion, let your members self-identify (when they apply for membership, via an annual survey, etc.).
Step 3: Focus, focus, focus
Once you know what makes a young professional, start talking to those members! Host a few focus groups and ask very specific questions.
Tip: Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions! Ask them, “What do you dislike about our association.” They’ll tell you, and you’ll only be better for it.
Step 4: Create a mission statement
Next, take what you’ve learned from those focus groups and create a mission statement for your young professionals task force. For example, “The mission of [Association’s Name]’s Young Professionals Task Force is to increase engagement among young professionals in [Association’s Name] through career development, education, and networking opportunities.”
Tip: When doing this, don’t Google “How to write a mission statement.” Use solely what you’ve learned from those focus groups. (It’ll make your mission statement more authentic.)
Step 5: Host your first event
Once you have all of that in place, you’ll want to host your first YP event! (That is the whole point of this, afterall.)
Tip: Think outside the association box. What’s something young professionals would enjoy that they wouldn’t necessarily associate with a professional organization? Manogue’s example: Panels and Paddles - a networking event at a ping pong bar! Fun!
Engaging your young professional members is crucial because they ARE the future of your association. Need more ideas for engaging not only Millennials, but all generations of your association? Check out our free guide, How to Engage Different Generations at Your Association!