I wanted to bring back a popular topic that all associations, not only small staff ones, face. We originally addressed it Dear Betty: How do we leverage pop culture moments to attract people to our site? This topic is a very important issue – how to get young people, millennials, and recent grads to join. Our members aren’t getting any younger, so we need some new blood.
I know who your target audience is – it’s me. You and your board know who I am. Heck, I know you want me…but how much do you really want me? The obstacle you face is that young people look at associations as something our parents do. It’s for old people. It’s for people who are already established in their careers. We’re stuck in a phase in between being a teenager and an adult and joining a professional association for a year is quite a commitment for us! Most of us still don’t know what we want to be when we grow up. That is where you come in.
We want guidance, but don’t push us. Show me resources online that I can explore without committing. Millenials like to watch what’s going on before joining. For example, I have joined several forums and communities but I watch what others say for days, weeks, months, before I feel comfortable enough to contribute. These are not necessarily things that you can capture with your stats but we definitely watch! It’s evident with the popularity of social media that we want to interface behind the comfort of a screen.
Prove to me that I don’t need to be established in this industry to join. If you don’t have a student or young professional membership, you should seriously consider it ASAP. Get them in early, so they stay for life. Key to the success of this type of membership is have the membership price be lower than a regular membership. Remember, young people may not have a steady income and will not be using all of your benefits so keep the rates low. Do you have mentor programs? Do you have networking events catered to young people? Do you have young people working for your association that you can leverage?
Where you find us is important too. Work with colleges or trade schools to see if you can provide something to their students and in return, they know who you are before they even graduate. Is your audience on Groupon, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest? Find a way to reach them in a space where they are already comfortable. Offering free or discounted services, memberships or events for first timers is a good way to start.
I told you this was a hot topic. Check out Sarah Hill‘s recent post for the MemberClicks blog Why New Grads Aren’t Joining Your Association: No Time for Anything Else, Strapped for Cash, None of their peers are doing it, Their parents are still in the workforce, and most importantly -Networking as we know it is changing.
For more helpful information on how to get and keep millenials, check out Adam Thocher’s blog: Millenials! Leadership! NextGen Association Models! Puppies!n Association Models! Puppies!: Volunteer Opportunities, Recognition Programs, Governance Structure.