Strategies for Engaging Younger Members in Associations

Dec 02, 2023

I’ve just wrapped up a couple of interesting projects seeking to understand how associations can engage better with younger members. We took a deep dive into the needs and preferences of the younger demographic and their needs from professional associations. From this work, following are the six key strategies we identified for enhancing engagement and fostering a more inclusive environment for these younger members.

Digital Engagement: More than Just a Buzzword

In our digital age, a kickass online presence is not just nice to have – it’s an absolute must. Think of your association’s digital platforms as your virtual handshake with tech-savvy youngsters. Dive into the world of Instagram and TikTok, where you can share snappy, relevant content that strikes a chord with them. This content should be a neat blend of informative, entertaining, and as concise as a tweet. Don’t forget to make your website as easy to navigate and inviting as a favourite local café, where everything is right where you need it, from resources and events to career opportunities. And yes, GPTs, Chatbots, and AI assistants are your new best friends in keeping these interactions smooth and savvy.

Communication: It’s All About the Feels

To resonate with the younger generation, your communication needs to be as engaging as a Netflix drama. Focus on storytelling that tugs at the heartstrings, highlighting journeys that mirror their dreams and hurdles. Mix up your delivery methods – think podcasts, interactive webinars, and Q&A sessions – to cater to their diverse tastes. The key? Keep it short, sweet, and super relevant.

Community Building: More than Just Networking

Creating a sense of belonging is crucial. Imagine your association as the ultimate social club, where you host events that mix business with pleasure, catering to their interests and helping them build networks and skills. In these socially-distanced times, virtual networking platforms are the new normal. Consider special interest groups for students and early career professionals to provide a tailored community experience within the larger association.

Addressing Their Unique Challenges: One Size Does Not Fit All

It’s essential to understand the unique challenges faced by different groups among your younger members. Different younger members are having different experiences – consider the vast difference between those working in the cities versus those based in rural areas. Acknowledging their diverse experiences and adapting their membership experience is key. Offer guidance on various career paths and provide practical resources to help them navigate their careers like a pro.

Education: Keep it Practical, Keep it Relevant

Tailor your educational resources to suit the palate of your younger members. Focus on practical skills that they can apply faster than they can swipe right. Providing inclusive education that caters to a diverse membership ensures everyone gets a piece of the knowledge pie, enhancing the value of your association.

Battling Professional Isolation: Mentorship is Key

Many young members face professional isolation, more so in less urban areas. Counter this by rolling out a rock-solid mentorship program. This program should be like a matchmaker, connecting professionals with students and early career professionals for career guidance and growth. Add moderated online forums into the mix, and you’ve got a recipe for an engaged, connected community, no matter where they are.

Keeping up with the younger generation can feel like trying to nail jelly to a wall. The market is shifting quickly and these strategies are not a one-size-fits all. Test and refine different ideas to find what works for you.

And, if you need some help, let us know.