This article is part of the Meeting the Needs Series that is designed to help chamber professionals meet the individual needs of certain market segments. See the footer of this article for a list of posts in this series.
Today, we’re addressing the needs of the young professional and while we’ll focus the conversation around the needs of the Millennial, some older adults may also find value in these programs and services, particularly if they are considering a career shift or starting over as may be the case of a parent returning to the job force.
What Does the Young Professional Want?
For chambers of commerce, this question is multi-faceted. The chamber pro must be able to answer this because it directly ties into the programming they would offer to attract and retain young professionals. But it goes beyond that too because your member businesses want the answer as well.
They want to attract top-notch young professionals to join their team just as you want them to join the chamber. If many of the young professionals are leaving your area for other “hot spots” across the country, you may also be looking at creating programs on an economic or professional level that would keep them engaged in your community. Or maybe you’re working to attract local businesses they appreciate like breweries and organic markets in order to retain them.
Whatever the case and whatever your role, keeping young people involved in the community, local business, and the chamber is essential to the future success of your area. There are simply too many of Gen Y (born 1981-1996) and too few of Gen X to do anything other than actively recruit and tailor your programs to their needs.
Young Professional Backgrounds
So let’s talk in a generic sense about what stage of life Millennials are in and what they need most:
- They are at the beginning parts of their career. The oldest members of the generation are closing in on 40 but because of a delayed start and frequent job changes, they may not be as established in their careers at that stage in life as previous generations.
- Gen Y lives at home longer than previous generations and they’re waiting longer to get married.
- They want to make a difference and don’t want to work just for a salary. Members of Gen Y want to know that their job means something.
- Millennials desire professional growth and feedback. This is a non-negotiable for them as they are used to a very hands-on learning environment growing up.
- They prefer flexible work hours and shun long hours at the office.
- Millennials, on average, stay in a job just two years.
- They are not as driven by large salaries as previous generations. They want fulfillment.
Many Millennials dislike being talked about in a stereotypical sense because of some of the negative characteristics that are often bandied around. Critics claim the generation is entitled, critical, wants a work/life balance that goes beyond generations before them, and expects everything given to them because of their “helicopter parents” and being raised in an environment where everyone gets a trophy. Check out what Simon Sinek says about them here:
Young Professionals and Social Media
Over and over again, we talk about these internet and tech natives. Here are some insights into their preferences and exactly how deeply connected technology is to their existence:
- In 2014, 25% of Millennials spoke a language other than English at home.
- 91% of them make their Facebook check-ins public
- 43% of Millennials liked more than 20 brand pages on Facebook and 71% of those likes were driven by a special offer (like this page for….)
- Over half of Millennials have more than 300 friends on Facebook
- 40% of them check Facebook over 10 times a day
- 76% spend over an hour on Facebook daily
- According to the Connected World Technology Report by Cisco, 90% of Gen Y checks their smartphone before getting out of bed in the morning
- 83% use their phones to take pictures (can’t believe that number isn’t higher)
- 80% of Gen Y use two screens while watching TV
But what do these stats mean for the chamber and your programming?
Creating Chamber Programming that Appeals to Gen Y
It doesn’t require you to be Captain Obvious to note the stunning statistics relating to social media usage (and we didn’t even get into Instagram or Snapchat!). They’re checking their phones before their feet hit the floor. They’re checking all day, every day. If you ever needed a reason to post, attracting Millennials is that reason.
But what else do you need to concentrate on? Here are a few suggestions on Millennial-desired programming based on the above statistics.
- Mentorship programs. Millennials desire feedback but most companies don’t have the time nor the inclination to give constant feedback. Mentorships can help assuage that need.
- Experiences. Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than material things. The chamber can appeal to them through awesome events, travel, or experiences they can’t arrange on their own like a meet and greet with a well-known exec.
- Photo ops. As mentioned above, Gen Y uses their camera quite a bit and loves to share those images with friends. Consider adding a visual component or photo space to every chamber event. Millennials will give you lots of social promotion if you give them a fun backdrop in which to do it.
- Leadership opportunities. Millennials are often criticized because they tend to expect instant advancement to the rank of CEO. That can cause them problems when they come from a home where they are told they can be and do anything and then they meet a middle manager who wants to see them “earn” it. The chamber is in an ideal position with its need for volunteer leaders to give them a voice at the table. This can be done through board membership, a leadership program, or even a young professionals program.
- Lunch and Learns. Gen Y is touted for its tech and social media knowledge. Why not give them a voice while you give them a spotlight? Bring them in to talk to other members about using technology or social media. Have them review an app or gadget. Ask for them to explain how to enable a chatbot on a website. Use their knowledge in your programming but be aware that while they are incredibly well-versed in tech, they may not always be knowledgeable about the business application. Their social media use has been largely social. They may not be prepared for business applications. Check with them first so you know the level of their knowledge and how they plan on presenting to the audience.
- Provide understanding. Help employers and Millennials connect through job fairs, generational talks, and specialized networking for generational understanding. When the generations get to know one another, everyone wins.
Marketing to the Millennial
Now that you know some of the things they may be interested in, let’s cover how to market to them in a very targeted way.
- Go where they are. Find out what sites they’re on (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, possibly Snapchat) and participate there frequently. You can do generic research to find out where most Millennials are but you’d be better served to find out where your local ones spend their time. Do this by asking local people in your ideal demographic. Find out what they use most and start conversations.
- Tell the chamber’s story. Remember Millennials want to be part of something amazing. They want to feel like they are changing the world. The chamber is in a very good position to do this, at least locally. And it all starts locally. Tell your story. Talk about the positives you provide for the community. Don’t think of it as bragging. Think of it as courting the Millennial.
- Talk about training. Again, many companies have cut out training for their employees. they simply can’t spare the time nor the expense. Yet, in today’s world, you cannot allow your skills to atrophy. You must always be learning. Chambers offer a lot of learning opportunities. Some are even free to members. When marketing them to Millennials, be specific about what those programs will help them with. Popular topics could be “designing your own career path,” “negotiating your first raise,” “Selling your boss on the advantage of flexible hours.”
- Be open to opinions. Gen Y’s are very opinionated. They grew up in an educational environment that asked them what they thought frequently. In marketing to them, you don’t want to come across as an organization that is doing what it’s always done. They’re attracted to innovation and they want to offer opinions about what they’d like in a group. Use crowdsourcing and show off your young leadership. They’ll be more attracted to your offerings.
- Champion their cause. If you are legislatively active, you may want to consider what causes are important to young people. That doesn’t mean you embrace something that doesn’t make sense for the larger business community just because the young constituents are. But it does mean that if you’re championing a cause for business, you should translate why it makes sense for young professionals too. Maybe a new levy is going to be used partially for more technology training at the local school or maybe revenue from a bill will go to a cause that means something to them. If that’s the case, draw those correlations for them.
Recruiting and retaining Millennials is critical to the future success of every chamber. But you won’t do it through a generic message. Millennials want to be heard and valued. Personalize your message for more appeal and offer them more value on their terms for the greatest success.
Wondering how to meet the needs of young professionals, sponsors, family businesses? Take a look at other articles in our Meeting the Needs Series.