Attracting young professionals can be a challenge for chambers. Do you segregate them from the rest of the chamber and give them their own group where they can mingle with people their own age or do you assimilate them into your main chamber group? Are chamber young professional groups beneficial or alienating?
This topic comes up in a variety of forms in the Chamber of Commerce Professionals Group on Facebook from awards for young professionals to ways to recruit. Here are a few of the questions we’re answering in this post:
we have run a Man/Woman of the Year recognition for many years. This year we are adding a “young professionals” award … probably will recognize multiple without specifying gender. I’m looking for a creative award name and any proven selection criteria that someone can share.
The Dubuque Chamber has a flourishing ‘YP‘ program… 700 strong! The thing is…I don’t like the term Young Professionals. It is limiting as some potential members perceptions are that YP indicates college age. Has anyone heard of a great replacement name for YPgroups?? Our average age is 32.
How are you reaching out to younger professionals? We are considering an Emerging Entrepreneurs group.
Creative Names for Young Professional’s Award
For chambers looking for an award name for their young professionals, here are a few suggestions:
Glenn Morris Regional business journal does something like that. Our local paper used to do a “Rising Stars” award, but they got distracted and dropped it.
John S. Cox Rising Star, Young Leader
Jill Cutler We have a Pioneer award for someone forging new ground.
Sharon K Sherwood We do a Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. They must be between 21 and 39 years of age, have owned their own business for at least 3 years, must have made contributions through volunteerism and community activities, show professional development endeavors and last must be a member of the chamber. The selection is made by the Exec committee.
Shelle Summers Emerging Leaders
Renee Radcliff Sinclair Many communities do a “40 under 40” or “30 under 30” recognition. That way lots of people get in on the action and are motivated to continue building their leadership skills. I’ve seen some communities choose 1 or 2 standouts from that group from awards like “Most Entrpreneurial” “Community advocate” “Volunteer a Spirit” etc.
Shelby Lawley McNamara Emerging Leader? I don’t like the distinction between man, woman and young person. I think it discredits the young person and makes the man/woman seem ancient!
Christina Green I always liked the 40 under 40 concept until I turned 40.
Ammi Lung Tucker I like the Rising Star mentioned. Generation Next, Future Award… will add more if I come up with more
Susan Williams Our YP group FLEX Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange holds an annual event recognizing young professionals nominated from the community. We name one as FLEX Young Professional of the Year. This is the fourth year of the event. We’ve used the nomination letters and the resumes of the nominees in the past, and have scored based on vision for our region’s future, leadership, entrepreneurialism, and relationship building as the criteria. This year I would like to add brief videos of interviews with each nominee. For objectivity I have asked other chamber directors from outside our region to act as judges. Our event is March 28th and we have 6 nominees. I hope to have everything ready for review by March 7th. Would anyone be interested in serving as a judge? More about FLEX here:
Need a New Name for the YP Group
If your chamber thinks young professionals is “too young” here are a few suggestions for a group that may very well include thirty-something aged members:
RaDonna Hessel We call ours AMP’T – Advancing Modern Professionals for Tomorrow
Mike Paone If I could go back and start ours again I would pick “Emerging Professionals” or something along the lines of leaders of the future
Barry Gentry I’m thinking Tomorrows Leaders. Today. but..not sure. I also like Trend Setters but may sound too techy.
Stuart Harrison “Emerging Leaders” Mike…? I think there might be an organization by that name in Toronto. A lot of YP groups seem to be going with a single word like Spark, Fuel (Milwaukee), Fuse, Hamilton Hive, etc. maybe let them come up with something Barry? How the heck did you accumulate 700 YP’s? Holy Smokes! We’re stalled at a few dozen, and struggling a bit as we’ve created a bit of a wall between our “Young” members and the rest. Kind of over played the under 40 card a bit when we started I think… We’re trying to get them out of standard networking events into Pub nights where everyone is welcome, Policy Forums, a CEO series(where they tour a local company and then have a Q and A with the CEO…) But 700? I’d love to know your secrets!
Stephanie Joy Meisner We named ours the Cheyenne professional network but we also have mentors for the young professionals so it is a mixture of events and such.
Vanessa Bennett We just revamped our YP program. It is called PEAK…Professionals Engaging in Advancing Kingsport. The group is doing social events called Sneak PEAKs. Very proud of where they are headed…YP’s are a huge asset to a community!
Lynn Guillory Last year our Chamber started a Young Professional group at the request of some of our younger members. They didn’t like Young Professionals so I challenged them to come up with something better….Their answer–FUEL Vermilion (Focus, Unite, Engage and Lead) I am so proud of them–78 members and growing.
Nancie Gray Our group is Young Emerging Professionals aka YEP
Jenna Weynand 700 members! That’s awesome! I’m jealous, lol. We stay right around 100 but I would love to find a way to increase our membership. Our annual dues are only $50 so it’s very reasonably priced. Any suggestions, advice or examples of successful tactics you’ve used to grow your membership?
Kyle J. Sexton one of my client chambers calls theirs Pulse, but your brand is defined by the people who participate, not the name or what we may believe the name means without context. Name is less relevant than the people and how you make people feel.
Recruiting Young Professionals
Henry Florsheim We have three different groups that share similar interests – a new YPO, our 20 Under 40 award alumni and Leadership Wichita Falls. I’m in the process of bringing the three groups together to discuss a partnership. The end goal I have in mind is to develop a strategic plan for how our community can better attract and retain young professionals. We’ve budgeted a little money this year to help with that process.
Katie Stice How big or important is the giving back portion of the program? Right now that isn’t a part of our program design yet.
Nancie Gray That has played a key role in the success of our group — it was their decision to do more than after hour type and professional development events. Many of our young pros are looking for a way to give back. Their biggest event of the year is Pinktoberfest which is a fundraiser for the breast wellness center at our local hospital.
Another key – which at times was not easy (and thank you Kyle for this advice) — we limited participation to only those in their 20’s & 30’s. Now they have 2 “open to all” events during the year the Pinktobefest and they host the Leadership Graduation. I’d be happy to talk to you anytime Katie
Katie Stice The only real hesitation I have is segmenting groups. I like to offer and work for the majority, be inclusive. Hmm. Uncertain!!
Melissa Fetterhoff I’ve been working to get our YP successfully off the ground for longer than i remember (tried to start the group when i WAS a yp… no longer qualify myself…) We’ve tried a variety of types of events – the ones that they are most drawn to are things like “trivia night”. whatever works for them – we’ll do it!
we have several segmented groups at our chamber – Womens, Human Resources, Golf (we have a men’s league and used to have a women’s league). The only caveat is that it’s an open group – for example – men are invited to attend the women’s luncheon (if they dare…) etc.
Susan Williams Our group is FLEX Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange. We’ve had very engaged young professionals for several year but FLEX has really come together this last year. I think the key has been giving them the opportunity to serve, while providing mentoring. We also work very hard to help them advance professionally. Our last two board presidents have been under 40 and I have had as much as 1/3 of my 18 member board made up of young professionals, one as young as 23.
Nancie Gray Katie — in general we are a very inclusive Chamber, however, there are times when we have found need to segment whether by industry or in this case by age (the whole staff is over 40, and we kid around about it) to meet the needs of the businesses in our communities.
Katie Stice Got it – thank you. I think we are going to go for it just after we hit the send button on re accreditation. I appreciate everyone’s insight. Susan Williams, LOVE FLEX! I might borrow some of your program