Engaging Young Professionals in Your Association

May 20, 2019
Engaging Young Professionals in Your Association

Young professional members are the future of associations, so it is vital to keep them involved. As a young professional (YP) myself, I can tell you that what we want most from associations is a sense of community. This includes being able to make personal connections, use available programs and services to fill gaps in our professional development, and contribute to the association’s advancement.


Despite advancements in technology, we still value face-to-face interactions as they create authentic, meaningful, and valuable connections. Associations are ideal avenues for meeting people. Hosting young professional meetups at conferences and providing opportunities to interact with more senior members help us create connections and see the value of membership.


Young professionals are eager for professional development tailored to their specific needs. Associations have the tools and resources to meet this need. Sometimes, fees can be a barrier to participation, but capitalizing on the skillsets of young professional members can help combat this. Peer-to-peer learning opportunities can help lower costs and generate interest in participation.


To create engagement and keep young professionals interested and invested in the association, invite us to volunteer, and not just on the young professional committee. Having the ability to participate in association operations and contribute to organizational advancement creates a sense of belonging and want to continue membership. We bring different perspectives to the table, which can help the association stay relevant and exciting for younger members, but are not always sure we have the appropriate qualifications for volunteer service. Creating young professional-specific seats on committees or having a willingness-to-serve form letting association staff know who is interested in volunteering when ad-hoc opportunities are available are two ways to bring young professionals into the mix.

Personal invitations to serve let YP members know they are qualified for the role and their opinions are wanted. Once we’re in the room, encouragement that our ideas are valuable and showing a commitment to understanding our viewpoints can make us feel more engaged and willing to further contribute. It’s not enough just to “check the box” saying YPs are participating on the committee. Actively listening to our thoughts on a topic and giving them the same consideration as anyone else’s are essential.

YP members, like all members, want to feel valued and that their voices are heard. A sense of belonging with opportunities to contribute and advance the association keep YPs engaged. This creates a purpose to being a member, value in being part of the community, and want to continue.

Ultimately, YPs want to make connections, build networks, advance our professions, give back, and do good in our communities and the world. This is what associations are made to do, but they will not be successful without members. YPs are current and future members, but the value proposition for membership decreases as engagement with the organization decreases. Engagement leads to continuation of membership and association operations which are necessary for organizational stability and longevity.

Engage your YP members now and there is a greater chance they will stay members and volunteers and you can create a pipeline for your organization’s leaders and donors.

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