One of the common themes that we hear from client associations is the difficulties they experience in recruiting, engaging, and retaining Millennials. As a Millennial myself, I’ve often thought about this issue.

Millennials are thought of as a group that doesn’t value the personal connections and networking that are offered by associations. They’d rather just type their question into Google and get the answer that way, as opposed to calling up a colleague, or attending an event on the topic. Many assume that Millennials have no interest in the traditional membership structure that associations have employed in the past.

Some of the above might be true for many Millennials. Your association can view that as an impossible situation. However, I’d encourage you to try to view it as an opportunity to change, adapt, and appeal to a broader audience. For example:

  • Millennials won’t pay for a full membership? Perhaps your association can try an online-only membership that will grant them access to resources that can establish your association as a source of expert information for their industry.
  • Millennials only want to Google for their information? Perhaps your association can put a greater focus on ensuring that your website is what they find.
  • Millennials don’t seem interested in the typical lecture events? Try something new! Perhaps all of your members might enjoy the occasional happy hour or informal networking event. Or, maybe younger members might find shadowing more experienced professionals to be valuable.

The reality is that Millennials are not going away. In order to stay relevant, you may need to change how you do things in order to appeal to them, as well as to your more experienced members. Try to think of these challenges as opportunities to better your association and expose all of your members to new, valuable experiences. Consider asking a Millennial to help plan events, or join the board. That perspective could be very helpful.

There are many ways that your association can ensure a brighter future for itself by trying to incorporate Millennials. In fact, I might go Google some right now …

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