What’s in it for me? That is the question you need to be prepared to answer when trying to sell a young professional (YP) on membership. In today’s economy, currency is time as well as money. With YP’s working to make a name for themselves and in some cases balancing a family, it can be difficult to convince them to invest their money, as well as their time, in your organization. Your program needs to be one that they cannot afford not to be member. YP organizations should be providing avenues for networking, opportunities to enhance credibility and forums for engagement and information.
Networking is a major component of YP organizations. Let’s face it, we really do conduct more business with people we know. Contacts are everything and building relationships are essential to your success. YP’s need peer networks with likeminded individuals sharing the same goals. If your YP organization is providing networking opportunities, your members are creating connections. Networking events should alternate between morning, noon and night to ensure a platform for all. A YP organization could plan a morning event where a business host members and provides breakfast while receiving exposure from potential new customers. A lunch event could be an informal Dutch treat or one with a speaker and set agenda. Of course, the evening event tends to be the most social because the workday is over and one can relax without the stress of having to get back to the office.
Credibility helps build your reputation and enhances who you are. Being an active member of an YP organization speaks volumes. Membership communicates personal investment. Employers want their employees to develop professionally and personally. Being a member of a strong YP organization shows commitment to your future. In my community, the YP’s who are being honored in Top 10 Under 40 ceremonies and being accepted into leadership programs are those who are active members of the regional YP group. Being affiliated with an organization that is credible with a strong respectable focus enhances your marketability.
Knowledge is power. Engagement in your community is key. Having your YP programs create awareness and engagement opportunities is a powerful tool. One way you can do this is simply by having your YP organization provide membership with a list of agenda items for the local city council meetings. Communicating between local government and business professionals breeds success for all parties. YP organizations could create a half-day seminar with local leadership, focusing on real, timely issues. Coast Young Professionals (CYP) conducts a forum called Educate & Engage. The agenda, for the program, evolves each year as dictated by current community issues. Last year CYP invited Mayors, city planners, economic development professionals along with local and state elected officials from across the region to the forum for updates. Information was presented and then a call to action was made. Providing tools and resources for YP’s to get involved aids in individual and organizational development.
When selling the importance of your organization to potential members remember the arguments networking, credibility and engagement. Young professionals are in need of development and direction therefore YP organizations are in the position to fill those needs. YP organizations need membership to be a viable, successful institution. Communicate the benefits when recruiting and the membership will certainly sell itself.