July 16, 2012
When your baby boomer members prepare to retire in the next few years, do you have a fresh crop of members waiting to replace them? Hopefully yes! But if not, you should be working on ways to engage millenials entering your industry. One option is creating a Young Professionals Committee, a place where members in their first few years in the industry can collaborate and interact.
Setting up a committee might not be a good move for every association. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to create a Young Professionals Committee for your group:
- Are there enough Young Professional (YoPro) members to justify a committee? Take a look at your member statistics to see if you have YoPros who might join.
- Would there be anything for a committee to DO? Committees function best when they have projects to keep them busy. If you’re thinking of setting up a committee in name only, it probably won’t be a valuable experience for the individuals who join.
- Would the YoPro committee be represented on the Board of Directors? If your Board, like many others, is comprised of, ahem, seasoned professionals, it might be difficult for a Young Professional Director to join. On the other hand, getting young professionals exposed early to the workings of the board can be valuable for succession planning. Think about whether someone in their first few years after graduation would be accepted by your existing structure.
- Should the YoPro Committee exist under another existing committee? It might make sense to create a subgroup within a group such as Membership or Programming which focuses on young professional benefits or events.
If you decide that a YoPro committee is a good idea, here are some ideas for ways to make it work:
- Train new committee members on how to volunteer. This is probably the first time that they have joined a professional organization, so they might not know what to do. At the beginning, explain what the purpose of the committee is and what the expectations for the committee are.
- Select the chairs carefully. Since many of the committee members will be inexperienced, be sure to choose their leadership wisely. You will need someone who can motivate and train new committee members. You might consider pairing a young professional co-chair with another co-chair who has experience serving on the Board of your organization and can take on an advisor role.
- Give YoPros responsibility. Keep your committee members engaged by giving them tangible tasks, such as planning an event or developing YoPro focused content for your association.
Here are a few other ways to engage YoPros even if you decide not to set up a committee:
- Plan a meet up. You can hold a separate YoPro-only event during a conference or set up a designated area for YoPros to congregate at an existing event.
- Reach them where they are. Millenials are more likely to engage on social media. Make sure your messaging goes out on places such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Give them what they want. Use surveys, focus groups or informal research to learn what YoPros in your specific industry are looking for. Do they want to be matched with a mentor? Do they want to network with other YoPros? Do they want job postings? Continuing education programs? Their needs might be different from the general membership, so find out what they want.
- Develop messaging specific to YoPros. The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) is a great example of an association that has engaged their YoPros with valuable resources. Check out their Young Professionals Resource Center at http://www.asaecenter.org/Resources/YoungProfessionalsResourceCenter.cfm. Their idea for creating a guide to navigating the association management industry might be a great idea for your association’s industry, too.
Does your association have a Young Professionals Committee? If not, how else are you engaging with your younger members? Do you have any tips for reaching this demographic?