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Guest Posts

What’s Your Point?

Whether you are trying to recruit an employee, or a member to your association, you likely have a lot to say in a short amount of time. You need to have a relevant “elevator pitch” that does not sound canned, or like you are reading a brochure. And, it needs to be consistent across various methods; whether it is online, or whether you are speaking to someone by phone, face-to-face, etc.

Whether you are trying to recruit an employee, or a member to your association, you likely have a lot to say in a short amount of time. You need to have a relevant “elevator pitch” that does not sound canned, or like you are reading a brochure. And, it needs to be consistent across various methods; whether it is online, or whether you are speaking to someone by phone, face-to-face, etc.

To start, I freely admit that I consider myself borderline Gen X/Gen Y. This is based on a variety of opinions on the cut-off year and how I find my preferences align with general assumptions based on the generational definitions. When I am researching an organization, what I find on the About Us section of the website are the things organizations have become accustomed to repeating across the board. To be successful these days, you need to be strategic about the message you are putting out there (and that means providing different, relevant information each time).

Here are two areas to pay attention to:

YOUR ASSOCIATION OR COMPANY WEBSITE

Websites that have an About Us page that starts with “ABC opened its doors in 1913…” or some far off year where I cannot even imagine what the world was like tend to bore me, and I will not take the time to read through all of the clutter to get at the meat of the information I require to make an educated decision.

I don’t care if you have been around for 100 years – I want to know why you are relevant today. However, that doesn’t mean that others don’t or shouldn’t care; they may be looking for an organization that is historically significant in changing the industry. In this case, I recommend re-evaluating the way you are positioning your website, and segment the information into categories. For example, your About Us page may say that you are an industry leader in ABC profession, which has consistently provided value to employees/members by… adding point form so that it is easy to read. Your history can then be made accessible by hyper-linking to another page on your site (for example, “To read more about our history, click here).

YOUR IN-PERSON INTERACTION

Prospects determine how much time they spend on your website–and the time per page can be anywhere between 15 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on the information you provide and how it captures their interest. However, you have about 20 seconds maximum by phone or in person to generate interest. And, I have found that what we are putting out there has been regurgitated based on information gleaned from the website, which tends to be used across other training material. And, if you are using the same pitch by phone or in person, what happens? Your audience (your prospect) tunes out, and quickly.

Before jumping in with your go-to reasons for why you are experts or thought-leaders in your industry that your prospect should be involved with (either through membership, or employment), start by asking a question. Have you ever asked them why they are looking into your company for employment? Why they have attended this event as a non-member? Why they downloaded your whitepaper on that topic? Getting their answer can help you determine which items in your value proposition and benefits would appeal to them, and make them want to learn more.

What’s the best way to capture (and keep) your audiences attention? Engage them with information that interests them. It doesn’t have to be too time-consuming; well planned marketing and communication plans combined with appropriate automation rules should take you most of the way through the process.

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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