Google “Millennials” and you’ll find more than 11,000,000 results. A lot of them will claim to tell you what this group of young people is interested in, what motivates them and their attitude toward everything under the sun. Why should we care? Well, they’re the largest generation in the U.S., the first one to have had access to the Internet during their formative years, and their impact on the economy continues to grow. All of those things will also impact our associations and how we attract and engage them.
I’m definitely not a Millennial (I won’t reveal my generation here), but I work with them, live with one, and, in the role I play with our clients, I need to know what attracts them to associations and events. I want to hear directly from them and I had the opportunity to do just that when I attended a recent panel discussion.
The entire panel consisted of Millennials and they shared it all: how to get them to join an association, what they need from you in order to get engaged, how their career and workplace should make them feel and what motivates them to attend an event. I’ll focus on meeting attendance here because that’s where I found the most food-for-thought when planning for the future.
When it comes to meeting attendance, all panelists agreed that it wasn’t the price, location or keynote presenter that drew them. Here’s what does:
- A majority of the education at an event should be relevant to their current position. Although they are willing to spend time on something out of the scope of their responsibilities, if it’s new to them – perhaps something they can see themselves doing in the future.
- Networking with colleagues using the same tools, sporting the same titles and dealing with similar issues is important to them. And, if you also provide access to senior executives, they’ll be there.
- Marketing collateral should be exciting and contain “like faces.” They want to know that they’ll identify with other attendees and have fun.
- If they can get the information online or from another association, you’d better try harder with your overall program. They want a unique experience.
- If your event ends with a final “thank you” from the moderator, then try adding opportunities to keep the discussion going after the program closes. They know they can easily stay connected and keep the learning going.
- Considering a presenter that gives a three-hour presentation? Think again. These professionals grew up with the Internet. They like to learn in short snippets with pictures and 140 characters or less.
- Once you get them there, you’ll need to make an effort to make them feel connected and valued. Do this and they’ll be back. Skip it and don’t count on a return appearance.
Millenials – is what I’ve shared true of you? Other generations – chime in and let me know what you’ve found when trying to engage them.