Blog: September 2018
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Engaging Next Generation Members

Millennials are known for their need to be connected and they value being part of a team. The newest rising generation, Generation Z, having never known a world without the Internet, doesn't only value making connections, but also needs those connections to feel authentic and meaningful. These young professionals are career driven and are eager to make an impact, thus joining a professional association is a great early career step as they enter the workforce. Engaging your Next Generation member base is essential to maintain healthy growth and the longevity of your association's mission. 

This advice was written with Next Generation members in mind, however, a lot of these tips can (and should) be applied to all of your members, regardless of their generations. New members that join your association should be informed quickly about the benefits associated with their membership and easy ways to get involved. Once a member has been accepted into your organization, do not assume that they know all the opportunities provided by their membership. Show them the value added by being a part of your group. Quickly reach out to members via email with convenient and easy ways to get involved and make an impact in your organization.

Next Generation members are particularly interested in how they can make a meaningful mark in the communities they are a part of. Point them to towards volunteer opportunities on committees, task forces, or working groups. Serving in groups like this are great to additions to their resumes. Moreover, it is mutually beneficial as their perspective is very valuable to your organization's strategic growth. Also, share ways that they can network with their associates either in person or online. Networking is key throughout one's career, make sure you are leveraging your virtual platforms like social media, member e-Lists (listservs), etc.

You can also use platforms like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Google Hangout, and other virtual conferencing options to make it easier to serve on your committees or to host regular webinar series or special interest group meetings. All of our members have hectic schedules, so being able to volunteer without leaving one's office will allow you to engage more members and even save time. As you think about introducing new ideas and structures for your committees, also explore the idea of adding Student or New Member liaisons. This will allow you to gain new perspectives and also cultivate future leaders for your association. Some associations even choose to have an entire committee for their new or younger members.

It is important for associations to really think about their mission and ways the Next Generation members can help achieve it. If your association is dedicated to education in some capacity, consider offering a scholarship to a student or new member to attend one of your conferences or training with all expenses paid. If your goal is to spread awareness or provide resources, it could make sense to sponsor chapters at universities and colleges. Whatever way you choose to expand to new members in the Next Generation, make sure to keep your messaging impact driven. Show members, especially your youngest members, how you can help them improve their lives and the communities they are active in, and you’ll successfully keep them engaged. 

Gabrielle (Gaby) Webster, MS is a Program Coordinator at McKenna Management, Inc. Gaby works with clients to provide premiere service and engaging programs for their members and prospects. Gaby believes in serving her community and is passionate about educating youth.