Skip to content
Attract young professionals to your association

Attracting Young Professionals to Your Association

Looking for ways to attract young professionals to your association? We’re sharing top strategies associations are using to do just that.

To attract young professionals to your association, you have to understand what matters to them in their early career stages and what really drives them to succeed. Wondering how to get in the mindset of a young professional in today’s world?

This week, Higher Logic teamed up with Community Brands to host a webinar on just that – strategizing for the next generation.

Discussion hosts Vivian Swertinski, Higher Logic Sr. Strategist, and Tara Pawlak, Community Brands Director of Marketing, shared top strategies that associations are using to grow their young professional membership, including:

  • Young member priorities, like job opportunities and professional development
  • Building a network of peers and mentors within your industry
  • Personalizing your communications during recruitment and retention

Fun fact: Job opportunities are one of the most sought-after benefits associations can offer. As Tara noted in the webinar:

“In times of economic uncertainty, association job boards see an increase in job seeker traffic, as professionals turn to them as a resource to help fortify against risk or find new job opportunities.”

Let’s go over some actionable insights from our experts, based on industry data, that can help you reach professionals earlier in their careers.

Understanding Career Stages: When Do Members Join?

If you are a member of a professional membership organization like an association, think back to what stage of your career you were in when you first joined. Were you a student? A recent graduate? Someone with 5+ years of professional experience under your belt? Did a personalized experience impact your decision?

According to the Community Brands’ Member Engagement and Loyalty Study:

“The largest number of members join a professional organization early in their career – within five years of employment. About one-third join before employment. Few join later in their career. This data suggests that recruitment activities should be focused not only on students and recent graduates, but also those in their first few years of employment.”

Key findings from that study also reveal the following data regarding membership satisfaction, renewal, and personalization among these groups:

  • Early career (0-5 years)
    • More likely to feel connected and satisfied
    • Less likely to commit to renewing membership
    • Most likely to demand and expect a personalized experience
  • Mid-career (6-20 years)
    • Often feel more connected than those in later career stages
    • Less likely to feel satisfied, renew, or promote their membership
    • Expects personalization more than late-careerists, but less than early careerists
  • Late career (21+ years)
    • Least likely to feel connected and satisfied
    • Most likely to renew their membership and stick around
    • Least likely to demand personalization

Where does this data lead us in terms of attracting and retaining younger members?

It leads us to the value that you’re offering as an association and the importance of proving year-over-year value via methods like personalization to help support retention among this group. Vivian noted that the best way to deliver a personalized experience is to be very purposeful about how your technology, data, and strategy work together to achieve these outcomes.

For more tips on how to do this, access the full on-demand webinar here 

Define the Experience and Support Members’ Top Priorities

Think about the young professionals who haven’t yet joined your association. Have you defined the audience experience you want to deliver to your non-members? When Tara and Vivian asked this question during the webinar, a quick poll revealed that:

  • 82% of attendees have not defined the audience experience they want to deliver

Vivian highlighted that an undefined experience is just, well, a default experience. And that approach isn’t an effective way to reach today’s young professionals, who grew up in research mode and are accustomed to collaborating, communicating, and seeking quick answers digitally.

Tara said it’s important to think through your prospecting efforts and the types of interaction and engagement young professionals have with your association. Not only before they become a member, but once they join, and after, especially during those early career stages.

Improve your outreach and content by building your strategy around what matters most to young professionals. According to the Member Engagement and Loyalty Study, the top three reasons someone will join an association are:

  • Job Opportunities
  • Certification/Continuing Education
  • Professional Growth

In terms of job opportunities, digest these kickers within the data: 

  • Only 28% of association staff think providing members with new job opportunities is among their most important benefits, while 70% of members say it is
  • And while 70% of members say job opportunities are an important benefit, only 27% of members say their organization is doing very well delivering on job opportunities

Whoa, members are definitely interested in career growth. This huge gap is an opportunity for associations to reassess and improve their career advancement offerings to attract and retain young professionals as they look for support in their early career stages.

Get More Tips on Strategizing for the Next Generation of Membership

The truth is, we’ve barely scratched the surface in this recap of our webinar, Strategize for the Next Generation: 3 Tips to Attract Young Professionals to Your Association.

In this on-demand webinar, you’ll hear Tara and Vivian engage in a deeper, informative conversation about data and strategic solutions around:

  • Why your association’s career center is more important than you think
  • Integrated technology systems and how to combine relevant job opportunities and networking within an online community to provide maximum member value
  • How to assess your website data, communications data, and engagement data 
  • Using the data you have to “observe and serve” audiences, define and deliver the right member experience, and find opportunities to personalize outreach and content
  • The structure of successful mentoring programs, how to turn cold leads warm, content that drives activity, persona development, and more! 

Download the Engagement Trends Report 2020


Gabrielle Wathen

Gabrielle is the Content Marketing Manager at Flockjay. She has a background in journalism, film, and marketing. When she’s not writing, you can find her cuddling her cats Harvey and Wilbur, traveling the world, or storytelling in any way she can. Favorite food: All things cheese. Favorite place: Black Rock City, NV.