How to engage millennials at networking events
As the forerunners of social networking, millennials thrive on a sense of community. Raised as the digital generation, they have a need to feel constantly connected. The name of their game is inclusivity and connectivity. These guys are all about how things and experiences make them feel, including the events they decide to attend.
At first glance, an association networking event would appear to be something right up their alley. Offers community, offers connection and of course, includes its membership base. Unfortunately, their attendance mandates some slight tweaks – which speaks true to millennials’ form, the generation of disruption.
Structured networking events are considered the norm for both boomers and Generation X, and that reason alone is why millennials will probably think twice. Gone are the days when just offering to buy the first round would get attendees in the door. For the millennial generation, they need a little special attention.
Before you let defeat cloud your efforts of millennial engagement, there is a silver lining. According to a study titled, Millenials@Work: Perspectives on Reputation, millennials think about their reputations at work more than any other generation. They realize that spending time with colleagues outside of work builds on this status – so let’s be real – they need you. You just have to creatively show them why.
They thrive in organic environments
No cheese, please. Millennials can smell B.S. from a mile away. Drop the gimmicks, drop the games – they want honest and open environments. Having Bill Gates show up for a brief meet-and-greet would be an absolute waste of association funds. They cannot be bribed.
While it is ironic they have more virtual friends than real ones, they seek genuine connections above all else. This might mean planning your network events on a smaller scale. Break down your members by common interests – parents, zip codes, specialties within the industry – and make the settings more intimate and very worth their while. Relating on a personal level is just as important as relating on a professional level.
They practice the art of digital vetting
One important thing to remember with millennials is information is no longer a bargaining chip. Getting by on the organization’s name alone would be a rookie mistake. Millennials have a tendency to be one step ahead. These guys vet everything – digitally.
Before they even arrive, they have already looked up your organization, who you are, who your family is, where they live, the last time you went to the gym, and what your dog’s name is. When engaging with millennials, turn the spotlight on them. Ask questions and information gather – they love to talk about themselves.
They believe in high intensity interval networking
Millennials are an active generation. They track their training data with their devices and are very interested in finding health information about food online. Wellness is a daily, active pursuit – and they exercise more, eat smarter and smoke less than previous generations, according to a study done by Goldman Sachs. Unlike their generational counterparts, they don’t value the art of networking in traditional venues.
Remember these guys multitask well – hit two birds with one stone and make your next networking event a high-energy activity. No deals will be done on the green with this group – they want everyone to be included. Try an engaging activity that requires attendees to bond by participation and even burn a little calories as an added bonus.
Bottom line, in terms of millennials, Field of Dreams said it best. “If you build it, they will come.”