Our Abila experts have researched and crafted Key Association Predictions for 2015 to help you gain a clear understanding of the challenges facing your sector in the coming year, and how you can turn them into real advantages for your organization.

Below is a deep dive into Association Prediction #2 – Millennials and Shifting Demographics.

When first launching their careers, Baby Boomers (born 1946-1960) turned to their handy “Rolodexes” to connect with their professional networks; amassing business cards at every sales call, tradeshow, and business luncheon. They also relied heavily on professional societies and associations to extend their networks and careers.

The Internet was a game changer for Gen Xers (born 1961-1980), who began using the World Wide Web and email to stay professionally connected.

Fast forward a few decades, when Millennials (born early ‘80s to early 2000s) entered the workforce. These digital natives had been building and nurturing relationships for years – first via AOL, then Friendster, MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Consequently, Millennials don’t need professional organizations to give them a network. Instead, they turn to professional associations to continue building an already advanced customized network.

To recruit and retain young professionals, associations need to understand this and craft programs, processes, and messages that speak to the needs of Millennials. The key is to provide the tools Millennials need to quickly and easily access the resources, people, and information they need to build their network.

Here are five to-dos to recruit young professionals:

1. Convey in your messaging that membership in your organization will enable them to build a network of like-minded individuals who can help them tailor their career path.

2. Know your members. To do this, you’ll need to become data-driven, and learn to slice and dice your membership into meaningful subsets, and provide access to targeting services. Go beyond traditional demographics, and capture relationship building connectors – likes, dislikes, dreams. That might sound silly, however, wouldn’t it be cool to connect young professionals who dream of starting their own businesses; to be the catalyst that brings the next Jobs/Wozniaks together?

3. Rethink the member directory. The directory needs to be more than a Web version of the printed directory – it needs to be a tool for building a network. For example, is your directory mobile friendly? Can it help a young professional find all likeminded entrepreneurs within 10 miles? Tag them for future correspondence? Invite them to join their network or schedule a networking event?

4. Host Meet-Ups. Meet-Ups are growing in popularity, and are successful because they provide very niche, intimate opportunities for networking locally. While a national meeting may suffer attendance, ad-hoc local events are more likely to have high participation and be considered valuable. Co-branding with local events can extend the reach of national associations and give the smaller, local offices valuable resources and assistance.

5. Understand that one size only fits all when it is designed to fit each individual. Broadly-scoped associations will be challenged by niche organizations as relevant information can be more easily accessed. As such, the approach to content delivery becomes an important part of Millennial engagement. To stay relevant to Millennials, organizations need to think about how content is delivered – how quickly members can get to specific information they need. For example, if your mission is to advance the chemical engineering field, is your information classified in a way that can provide easy, quick, and mobile-friendly access to a sub-set of that profession?

What strategies are you using to recruit young professionals into your organization? Let us know by clicking on the “Leave a Comment” icon, above.