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Molding Young Professionals Through Meaningful Engagement

Association for Corporate Growth– Save the Associations Vol. 12

At the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), leadership did not need to do more than look around at a meeting or an event to recognize they needed to start recruiting young professionals. “You would just look around the room, and you could tell change was necessary,” shared Leslie Whittet, Vice President of Chapter Operations at ACG.

The success of ACG’s commitment to young professionals is undeniable. Just this year, the 30-year-old president of the Detroit chapter was recognized in Forbes magazine for his work and leadership.

[ctt_hbox link=”c0I9A” via=”yes” ]You can’t tell young professionals that they are important to the association and then bar them from taking part in certain activities. “Young professionals want to be in the room with everyone.”[/ctt_hbox]

Successful Trends

About 5 years ago, the association chapters truly began to focus on creating young professional programs. Through experimentation and knowledge sharing, the association chapters had some ideas that didn’t work and a lot of ideas that have turned into successful programs across the country.

Meaningful Membership

“It is not that Millennials don’t want to join. It is that they want to do something relevant,” advised Whittet. When creating new programs, ACG always makes sure that they are creating something meaningful, not just a new offering to have a new offering.

Leadership Development

Especially in the business of mergers and acquisitions, leadership development is important to young professionals. At ACG, there are a handful of common programs across chapters. One popular offering is ACG University. At ACG University, young professionals and professionals new to the industry learn the process of mergers and acquisitions.

Young professionals are also consistently asking for help in developing their networking skills, so ACG focuses on offering many social events for professionals to practice.  The variety of networking events include some that are for young professionals only, where the stakes are lower, and some are association or industry events that can be high pressure.

[ctt_hbox link=”9JLH1″ via=”yes” ]“Don’t just keep doing something because that is the way it has always been done,” advised Whittet. “Listen to your members, try new things, and experiment. If you don’t do anything, you literally have everything to lose.” [/ctt_hbox]

Leadership Opportunities

“We are conscious to give the young professionals their own space,” shared Whittet. “They want a safe place to get experience and it is easier to learn in a room with people like you.”

ACG chapters give their young professionals a lot a freedom. Fellow young professionals run the most successful programs and some chapters even give their young professionals their own board.

Space at the Table

You can’t tell young professionals that they are important to the association and then bar them from taking part in certain activities. “Young professionals want to be in the room with everyone,” shared Whittet. ACG young professionals are learning by just being in the room for meetings and decision-making.

Advice for Other Associations

“Don’t just keep doing something because that is the way it has always been done,” advised Whittet. “Listen to your members, try new things, and experiment. If you don’t do anything, you literally have everything to lose.”

Contact us at Sarah Sladek & Co to learn more about why it is important to get your junior members involved in your association.

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