Associations are constantly recruiting new members to grow and strengthen the organization, but strategies that work with experienced, older members are not necessarily effective for younger potential members.
It is important to recognize the need for different strategies to make the association attractive to young professionals because according to Pew Research Center, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) were the largest generation in the U.S. labor force beginning in 2016. However, Deloitte predicts that Generation Z (born from 1997 onward) will soon surpass millennials.
Reach out to potential members early in their education or start of their career. One report shows that most members join as a student, a new graduate, or within the first five years of employment.
In “How to Attract Younger Members to Your Association,” the author offers several strategies to reach young professionals:
- Offer content and benefits younger members care about. Research shows that young professionals want an online career center that includes information about developing resumes, preparing for interviews, networking and other career advice.
- Connect young professionals with coaches and mentors who can help them navigate their career path as well as their involvement in the association.
- Offer continuing education opportunities that provide training and certifications that are most relevant to young professionals in your industry.
- Provide a robust online community that gives younger members access to information that matters most to them. This can include a group that is focused on early careerists to encourage discussion and sharing that can create connections with peers and increase engagement.
- Ask younger members to help recruit other young professionals.
- Make sure your website and social media shows younger members involved in meetings, events and activities. This can include posts about young professionals meetings, case studies or profiles of younger members or testimonials that explain why they joined.
- Offer leadership opportunities on committees or consider a board seat for a young professional. Seeing peers in leadership signals to other younger members that the association values them.
- Offer scholarships for education including college, professional certification or skills development courses that can remove a financial barrier for Gen Z members who are not out of school yet or just beginning their career.
- Provide attractive pricing options that include discounted fees for students, recent graduates or new members. If discounted dues are not an option, offer a budget-friendly monthly payment option.
Don’t forget to find out how your younger professionals prefer to received information – email, website and specific social media platforms – and “meet” them there to implement an effective recruitment and retention program.