Archive for the 'Young Professionals' Category


Millennial-friendly meetings: Bring on the couches and big screens

millennialsGoogle images of millennials and you’ll find young professionals connected to their smart phones and tablets. You might also find images of colorful workplaces and nontraditional desks. Maybe even a collaborative thinking space.

Much to Baby Boomers’ chagrin, it’s a different world, especially since Gen Y now comprises the majority of the workforce.

And with that comes a different set of expectations: Skype meetings and coffee shop conversations have replaced hours-long meetings.

All this aside, while millennials crave technology, they still value face-to-face meetings – albeit with a different flare – and understand the importance of networking, according to a new report by Skift and Meetings Mean Business.

“Meetings and events offer the best possible platform to help millennials expand their networks, customize their self-education and personalize their career paths,” the report says. “That is why millennials are advocating for more effective meeting design and better ways to connect, both physically and virtually, in a shifting and highly competitive global marketplace.”

Translated: Associations should think differently about events.

Video plays a huge role in the lives of young professionals, as evidenced by the boom of YouTube and Vine. So event planners shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate video into presentations, and, better yet, dabble in live streaming for their events.

networking3In fact, hybrid meetings are becoming increasingly popular, but not just for attendees offsite. Since millennials value networking opportunities, associations could explore broadcasting sessions throughout a venue to allow attendees to learn and network simultaneously. This could spur the advent of “networking places,” comfortable rooms with computers, couches and food and drinks.

At the same time, the report suggests mobile is the future of millennial-friendly meetings. Gen Y wants event apps and social media platforms. Real-time updates via social media allows attendees to join group conversations, regardless of their location.

Of course, all this is good news for vendors and IT providers, both of whom, the report predicts, could see steady growth in businesses from organizations looking to improve their events.

The Skift and Meetings Mean Business report offers dozens of case studies and examples of organizations that have successfully embraced millennials. But here are some key takeaways:

  • Millennials value face-to-face networking experiences (in fact they rank them as the top motivation for attending events), but such experiences should be enhanced with social media capabilities and technology. Enter the rise of hybrid meetings.
  • Millennials expect technology, including fast Wi-Fi, hybrid content, social media conversation, web-based audience participation platforms, comprehensive event apps and other technology to be seamlessly integrated into modern meeting design.
  • More than previous generations, Gen Yers choose professional events based on location. Cities that offer a rich nightlife and awesome attractions will attract young professionals much more than traditional conference cities.
  • Despite common perceptions, millennials’ top communication preference is face-to-face. Second was email and third was texting.

social_media_strategy111Finally, the report offers some additional tips for engaging millennials:

Include millennials in social media and website development — Even though many millennials are still developing their skill sets, they want to feel like their opinion is respected and they’re helping co-create meeting content and experiences. Create a millennial task force for special projects so they can work together on shared goals like new social media campaigns, pre/post online content, app content conversion to web-based platforms, etc.

Kill the cocktail reception — Well, maybe not kill it but definitely add some interactive knowledge sharing that helps millennials develop personally or professionally. Many millennials in this report said the traditional cocktail reception is intimidating because it feels so unnatural to start a conversation without some kind of shared interest beyond the event theme. Apps like MeetingMatch are becoming popular, where attendees can find people with similar interests, and app developers like DoubleDutch and QuickMobile are integrating similar functionality into their products.

Create young professional SIGs — Everyone loves special interest groups because they’re smaller gatherings with people who identify with a niche subject. Planners should think about creating one solely for young professionals, especially at association conventions, where millennials can let down their guard and network in a more relaxed ambiance.


The new association “normal”

John Graham

John Graham, president of ASAE

This month’s guest blog post is an interview with John Graham, ASAE president. Association Adviser conducted the interview and posted it on Aug. 18.

ASAE The Center for Association Leadership, which supports the interests of more than 22,000 association executives and industry partners representing 10,000 organizations worldwide, sat down with President John Graham about new membership models and game changers he sees happening for associations during the coming year.

Association Adviser: John, we’ve been talking about the “new normal” for a few years now. How do you think associations are handling the transition to the faster-paced, “what’s in it for me” demand from their members?

John Graham: Actually, it’s a huge opportunity vs. being a challenge for associations. But a lot of these tech advances are expensive. Many associations don’t have the resources in reserves, but you do have to make the investments. For instance, we’re a larger organization, and we invested about $5 million throughout the last three to four years in our website redesign. We had to take money out of reserves, not from the operating budget. That’s a big commitment in the future.

AA: You referenced ASAE’s hybrid membership model in your opening remarks at ASAE’s annual convention in Detroit. Can you tell us more about how it will work and how other types of new membership models are working for other associations?

JG: It’s going to work exactly like the small staff association model works for us now. If you look at small staffs, generally only the CEO (or executive director) is the member and [the] rest of the staff has to rely on the CEO to share what they learned [from ASAE]. Our new model lets [staff] who wouldn’t normally be members access the same information and resources as full members. That, coupled with our education loyalty program, gives us the opportunity to reach a much larger cohort of an organization’s staff.

AA: John, can you walk us through this new membership model?

JG: Sure. Membership will be based on how many staff members an organization has. So for the price of “X,” the CEO and/or directors will be regular members (including receipt of print member magazine) and all the other staff, if they opt-in, will be electronic members. They’ll have access to the same benefits, but will get the magazine electronically. I think many other associations will adopt hybrid and transactional membership models.

AA: What do you think the biggest membership communications challenges are for today’s association?

JG: There is so much information flowing to people from all different sources that it’s easy for your message to get things lost in the clutter. Even in simpler times it was hard to get your message through. What’s the old marketing rule — it takes seven touches to make your message resonate? Now there are so many other ways to reach people. I don’t [know] what the magic number of touches is today.

AA: Are any new channels particularly affecting the touchpoint equation?

JG: Mobile! It changes the dynamic of how people communicate. Associations used to drive information and content out [to members]. Mobile allows the individual to [proactively] seek the content they really want from the organization and not have it pushed to them. So your organization needs to be nimble and flexible enough to make it easy for the individual to seek content from you in a very efficient way.

AA: Now that members of Next Gen are starting to assume leadership roles, what are you seeing as the biggest differences between their management styles and those of older generations?

JG: What changes more from generation to generation is personal experience each generation had growing up. Every leader, regardless of age, seeks face-to-face interaction and interpersonal relationships. But, technology actually enables communication. The younger generation is much more comfortable with technology. It’s viewed more as a communication enabler as opposed to “something I have to learn how to do.” It’s part of their way of life.

AA: So we can expect more technology-based communication from the next generation of leaders?

JG: No. I don’t see it that way. It’s just that younger people have a much higher expectation for technology. Their management style is not that much different. People think every generation is different, but I just don’t see it. Some of the [perceived] differences have to do with the economy when young people came out of school. For kids coming out of school today, it’s a very different experience than it was for kids coming out of school 20 years ago. The other thing we see is that younger leaders put much more emphasis on work/life balance and are drawn to organizations that value work/life balance.

AA: What is the next “game changer” you see on the horizon?

JG: It’s still mobile. The use of mobile today is as much a game changer as the advent of the personal computer was 30 years ago.

AA: If a typical association team leader got an unexpected 50 percent increase in their annual budget, how do you think they would (or should) spend it?

JG: Two areas: technology and messaging platforms. In terms of tech, associations don’t need to be on the “bleeding edge,” but they should at least be on the cutting edge if they want to remain relevant with their members. In terms of messaging platforms, it’s critically important — especially for trade associations — to invest wisely in their messaging platforms. As they try to get the message out about their industries — from solar to petroleum to mining to beverages — messaging is a critical component of what you do and what members expect.

AA: John, there have been some great speakers and sessions here at ASAE this week. How can attendees put all the great tips and insights to use after the daily grind swallows them up?

JG: An excellent practice is to bring multiple staff to the meeting and make sure you don’t cluster. Network with different people and attend different sessions. Soon after you return to the office, get together and share what you learned — not only with those who were at the meeting, but with many others who couldn’t attend. And think about having more people join under the new membership model for next year [laughing].


Bonus Content – Event Garde e-news – August edition

Heidi Letzmann

Heidi Letzmann, education and programs manager, American Association of Law Libraries

Q & A with Heidi Letzmann, education and programs manager, American Association of Law Libraries

Q: If you had to choose another career path, what would it be, and why?
A: My mom always tells me I missed my calling as a meteorologist since I’m endlessly fascinated by the weather.

Q: What movie best sums up your life, and why?
A: Whoa – I’m not prepared to “sum up” my life just yet, but themes of whimsy, courage and destiny really appeal to me in “Amélie,” “Antonia’s Line” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

Q: If you could spend the day with a famous person, who would it be, and why?
A: It would be wild to spend a day with Dorothy Parker.

Q: Let’s say you had a locket. Whose picture would be in it?
A: Another tough one. Probably why I don’t have a locket.

Q: Are you a night owl or a morning dove?
A: I’m turning into a reluctant morning dove, wishing I could stay up all night, but realizing that I perform better in the morning.


Latest ruling could mean more unpaid internships

free_laborIt’s summer…and that means planning season for many of you. Perhaps that planning includes whether to hire an intern for the upcoming year. And with that comes the question: “Should we pay them?”

In September 2013, I wrote a post about the Black Swan case, in which a federal judge ruled that Fox Searchlight Pictures violated the Fair Labor Standards Act by not paying interns during the production of the 2010 movie “Black Swan.” (It was one of our most popular posts!)

The judge ruled the interns performed the same work duties for which others were paid and the internships didn’t provide an educational environment, but instead benefited the studio.

Now, just two years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has thrown a boon to employers – but a blow to interns.

On July 2, it ruled the Federal District Court in the Black Swan case used an incorrect standard – one set by the Department of Labor – to define an internship, declaring that as long as work serves an educational purpose, it can considered an internship – paid or unpaid. Using this test, a person is an employee only if the employer benefits more from the relationship than the intern.

Cutting through the legalese: This could make unpaid internships much easier to justify, and could lead to a surge of them in the workforce.

It’s a touchy conversation among millennials, most of whom expect to get paid for their services. As I wrote in the post two years ago, interns are no longer the “coffee getters” and “copy makers.” Most employers consider interns valuable team members and delegate professional responsibilities to them – many of the same responsibilities for which employees receive compensation.

But the argument remains: Does professional experience outweigh money?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers issued a statement on July 2 in response to the U.S. District Court’s ruling, saying, “At the foundation of such an assessment is the tenet that the internship is a legitimate learning experience benefiting the student and not simply an operational work experience that just happens to be conducted by a student. The core question, according to NACE, is whether or not work performed by an intern will primarily benefit the employer in a way that does not also advance the education of the student.”

Internships-resize200dpi2As further explanation, NACE developed criteria that employers can use to determine which experiences can legitimately be classified as internships:

  • The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.
  • The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.
  • The experience has a defined beginning and end and a job description with desired qualifications.
  • There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework.
  • There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.
  • There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.
  • There are resources, equipment and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals.
  • Unpaid internships in the not-for-profit sector reflect the fiscal realities and limitations for organizations in that sector and are acknowledged accordingly in current Department of Labor guidelines and enforcement practices.
  • All interns, regardless of their compensation, should enjoy similar basic protections in the work setting consistent with all laws, ethical considerations and sound business practices.

At the same time, NACE’s 2015 Internship & Co-op Survey found the current overall average hourly rate for bachelor’s degree-level interns, adjusted for inflation to 2010 levels, is $15.98. In comparison, the average hourly rate for interns was $17 in 2010.

While associations and nonprofits may not be first of mind for interns, they offer valuable experiential learning experiences, wrote Todd Van Deak, president and founder of Philadelphia-based TVD Associates, in an October 2013 Event Garde post.

So it’s important to consider how your organization could enhance interns’ educational experiences.

As a follow up, tell us…do you pay your interns? Why or why not?


Time to breathe…and think long-term

Strategy-Small1Meeting professionals are some of the busiest people I know.

But thanks to periods of economic stability, for the first time in a decade, these always-on-go folks will have time to take a breath and think strategically, according to Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook, 2015 Spring Edition. It was developed in partnership with Visit Denver.

This year has been, and will continue to be, defined by intelligent growth for the meetings and events industry, the report found.

For starters, 60 percent of survey respondents predict an increase in live events, while 56 percent predict an increase in virtual events. Part of the reason: Young professionals are realizing the value of face-to-face networking.

Other key findings:

  • 74 percent of those surveyed predict better business conditions.
  • Industry professionals plan to use mobile apps more strategically this year, including location-based technology for session check-ins and networking.
  • Budgets are still a concern, so organizations plan to host more local meetings, compress meetings into shorter times and increase use of technology.

“It takes opportunity, resources and the desire to be able to think strategically to consider how to improve relationships and to be smarter with how folks use the tools in their toolbox,” said Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter), president of Association Insights — the company that conducts the Meetings Outlook research. “Now is one of those rare times.”

While this is good news, opportunities also bring challenges. For instance, it’s a sellers’ market, so meeting professionals will need to contend with shorter lead times. As such, pop-up meetings are becoming more common. And sometimes, when attendance is low, venues tack on charges.

shaking-handsIn addition, with the increase in live events comes the need to build face-to-face communication skills (much tougher than communicating behind a screen).

Budgets are increasing, but with a planned uptick in live events, resources won’t go as far. At the same time, food and beverage costs have increased, so organizations will need to come up with creative budget solutions (i.e. purchasing their own AV equipment, rather than renting from a venue.) The key: During budget planning, think long-term and out of the box.

It’s an exciting time for meeting professionals, and to help foster success, MPI lists some tips in its report:

  • Offer attendees more engagement while gathering more data through your apps to help inform future meeting design.
  • Crowdsource: Publicly display social media posts from attendees, such as comments and photos.
  • Make your eRFPs pop with clear details, and consider working with CVBs to streamline the process.

“All of this is opening a new era for meetings, as attendee behavior data is going to explode — and it will help in shaping meeting design in multiple areas,” said Christian Savelli, senior director of business intelligence and research for MPI.

What do you think? Does your organization have a strategic plan? Are you doing things differently? Let us know.


Bonus Content – Event Garde e-news – June edition

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q & A with Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q: It’s a beautiful summer day in Michigan. What would we most likely find you doing? 
A: I hear it is supposed to be nice, mild weather this summer: my favorite! You will either find me taking adventurous walks with the kiddos at one of Greater Lansing’s awesome parks or enjoying a cool summer drink on the back deck with my hubby.

Q: Would you rather swim in a pool, lake or ocean…and why? 
A: If I can see my toes, I vote for the lake!  There is nothing that shouts “Pure Michigan” like wading around in one of our GREAT lakes.

Q: What’s your favorite summer vacation spot?
A: Kayaking is the best (usually with a kiddo riding along).  So relaxing!

Q: If you could be a summer cocktail, what would your name be and what would you taste like?
A: “Summer Chill!”  Mint, gin, sprite, raspberries and blueberries.

Q: What’s your favorite summer smell? Summer taste? Summer feel?
A: Smelling the lilacs in spring reminds me of the green, warm summer right around the corner. BBQ chicken with fresh fruit is a summer must. I’m not one who likes to be hot, so a cool breeze on an early morning walk is the best feeling of summer!


Nonprofits and associations are hiring…even in a candidate’s market

Now hiringWe’re nearing college commencement season. In about six to eight weeks, excited college graduates around the country will don their caps and gowns, ready to hit the workforce with enthusiasm and a bit of trepidation.

And so, once again, we’re reading a lot about hiring – and in some cases, lack thereof.

But there’s good news for graduates and jobseekers in general: Associations and nonprofits are hiring.

According to a recent report by Professionals for Nonprofits, nearly 60 percent of nonprofits increased their staff size in 2014 and 55 percent plan to add staff this year. And, with demand exceeding supply, salaries are on the rise.

In fact, 70 percent of the organizations reported two to 10 vacancies in their organizations. As for hiring priorities, fundraising and membership tied at No. 1, with marketing and communications taking the No. 2 slot, followed by technology.

“In a major shift from 2014-2015, our survey results show that it has become a candidate’s market, increasing the challenge for nonprofit managers to find and hire the staff they need and to pay the higher salaries required,” the report says.

And demographics are shifting. Gen X – those born from 1965 to 1981 – still make up most of the workforce. After a few years under their belt, these employees are ready for leadership positions. That opens the door for Gen Y staffers – those 32 years old or younger – who now comprise half the workforce, as reported in the study.

Gen hiresWith the shift comes changing expectations and skill sets. Gen Y is ripe with entrepreneurial spirit, independence and technologically-savvy minds. They know they’ve got the leg up, which means hiring has become more difficult for nonprofits, the report found. Job seekers can afford to be a bit more selective. Not surprisingly, the top reason for turning down a job offer was compensation. The second reason? A perceived lack of growth opportunities.

So what does this mean for associations and nonprofits?

PNP offers some tips on hiring:

  • Pay competitive salaries
  • Foster a positive workplace culture and environment
  • Cultivate opportunities for growth, training and professional development
  • Avoid a lengthy hiring process so “the good ones” don’t get away
  • Be clear about job responsibilities and rewards
  • Look for potential leadership capabilities in staff and new hires

All this said, here’s my two cents. My first job out of college was working for an association, from which I moved to another association. Neither was afraid to take a chance on a recent college graduate, and showed it by offering me competitive compensation and fun, inspiring work environments.

Both jobs (in the editorial and communications division) were incredible experiences, so I encourage you to tap into the newly graduated young professionals in your area.

meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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