Engaging your young professional members (and prospects, even) is tough, especially when it comes to events. Throw the word “networking” out there and people seem to run for the hills.
But you know what makes networking a lot less intimidating and a lot more appealing? When there’s an activity to break the ice. (And no, nothing cheesy.) Remember, young professionals want to connect. It’s a big reason why they joined your association in the first place. Help them do so in a way that’s going to be fun for them.
Events for young professionals can span from fun and silly activities to opportunities for attendees to learn a new skill together. Plus, the growing popularity of virtual events opens the door to connecting with an even wider audience of young professionals.
If you’re looking to up your game when it comes to engaging your young professional members, we have you covered!
Below, we’ll explore:
- Why is it important to connect with young professionals?
- 20 Young Professional Event Ideas
- 7 Tips for Planning Events for Young Professionals
By learning to offer the right benefits for this segment of your membership, you’ll be able to better recruit and retain young professionals for your association.
Why is it important to connect with young professionals?
There are several reasons why you’ll want to connect with your young professional association members. Some of these include:
Sustainability and adaptability
A certain number of members come and go over time, whether because they moved away, retired from the field, changed professions, or any other number of reasons. By connecting with your young professional members, you keep your association more agile. You’re recruiting and cultivating the leaders of tomorrow.
Growth and maintenance
Engaging with young professionals helps to grow your membership ranks and maintain your young professional membership base. You have to put in work to nourish these relationships to keep your membership strong.
Demonstrating your value
By thoughtfully connecting with young professionals, your association shows prospective and current members that you have thriving, valuable programs for young professionals.
Welcoming new ideas
Young professionals often have fresh ideas for events and are current with the latest trends in their fields. Engagement activities with your young professional members can breathe new life into your association.
20 Young Professional Event Ideas
Ok, so you know you need to engage more with your young professionals, but how? Here are 20 event ideas for young professionals that can help you connect with them while helping them network with one another.
1. Cooking Class
A cooking class is a fun, hands-on activity that (hopefully!) ends with a tasty treat everyone can try. Young professionals can use this event to have fun learning a new skill while chatting informally with one another.
Exercise endorphins, anyone? Help your young professionals bond while also sweating off some of their work stress with a kickboxing class or other fun group workout.
3. New Member Mixer
New members who are young professionals are particularly important to engage. They have just joined and are likely eager for connection with others. You want to make a good impression on them to help them see why they’ll want to remain involved with your association.
A new member mixer is a simple, casual way for new members to meet current members. You can also easily pivot this to a virtual mixer. Let new members connect over video conferencing software and use prompts to help them share more about themselves with one another.
4. Escape Room
An escape room is a fun activity where young professionals have to work together through a problem. It can help form meaningful connections and lasting memories!
5. Paint and Sip Class
Let your young professionals explore their creative sides while getting to know each other. Events like this are also perfect for getting photos to share on your social media platforms and through your other marketing channels.
6. Fun Run
There are a ton of 5k runs and other fun runs hosted in different cities, many benefiting specific nonprofits or causes. Create a team for your young professionals to join and run together for a good cause.
7. Silent Disco
Silent discos are a fun way to cut loose, have some laughs, and de-stress from the workday. You can also engage your young professionals who work remotely by hosting this as a virtual event. Invite members to join your Zoom hangout, put in their earbuds to their favorite song, and groove!
8. Professional Headshot Photo Session
Young professionals may be just building out their LinkedIn profiles or other portfolios. Help them out with a professional headshot photo session.
You can also use this time to encourage them to connect with your organization on LinkedIn, update their member profile in your directory, or join any other online forums you host where young professionals can continue to connect.
9. Top Golf
If you’re headquartered near a Top Golf, this is a great venue for hosting young professionals. It makes the planning easy by providing a fun game, music, food, and beverages all in one place. If you don’t have a Top Golf near you, look for similar indoor fun zones.
10. Putt-Putt Golf
There’s also traditional mini golf to try! When the weather is nice, find an outdoor course where young professionals can play a round of mini golf while they get to know each other. Since it’s a low intensity sport, it provides enough of an activity to help break the ice while not distracting from the true goal of networking.
If you were ever a young professional yourself, you probably know how hard it is to pass up some free food! Host a picnic at a local park. You can provide the food, or you can provide the main course and encourage members to bring their favorite side dishes potluck style. It can also be fun to add in a recipe swap or baking contest to the mix.
12. Lawn Games Tournament
Bring out the playfully competitive sides of your young professional members with a lawn games tournament. This is a perfect event for a nice summer day.
13. Cocktail Making Class
Spice up the classic happy hour mixer by turning it into a cocktail making class. Young professionals can learn how to make their favorite beverages, providing a hands-on activity to bond over rather than just handing out drink tickets.
Make this event more inclusive by letting members know that if they don’t drink alcohol, there will also be mocktail options available for them to craft.
14. Wine or Beer Tasting
Many local breweries and wineries offer tastings. These can be a fun way for young professionals to learn about a local business and what goes into brewing their favorite beers and wines. Again, it’s a refreshing spin on the overplayed happy hour mixer.
There are also ways to make this more welcoming to young professionals who are sober. Look for kombucha, apple cider, or other specialty food and beverage makers in your area who host tastings.
The 90s are alive and well, everyone! Plan a rollerblading night at a local skating rink. You can also give it a theme and encourage members to dress up. This is a photo-worthy event you can use to showcase your young professionals having fun together.
16. Trivia Night
Trivia nights are a good way to break your cohort of young professionals into smaller teams to get to know each other while having some healthy competition. With the use of virtual breakout rooms and chat features, you can even pivot this to be an online activity.
17. Yoga or Meditation
Help your young professional members connect while also promoting workplace wellness. Being a young professional can be a challenging stage of life. Providing mindfulness classes is a good way to encourage your members to engage in self-care and find support amongst each other when dealing with stress.
18. Pottery Class
Who says you have to use the mug with your company’s logo on it? Bring your young professional members together for a pottery night where they can craft their new favorite mug to enjoy their afternoon coffee in at the office.
19. Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are exciting and promote teamwork. Organize clues and prizes for teams of your young professional members to play with during a scavenger hunt.
20. Laser Tag
Another great way to get your young professional members moving and bonding in a fun way is with a game of laser tag. Reserve a time at your local venue for your members to play.
7 Tips for Planning Events for Young Professionals
1. Choose an intriguing name for your event.
To make your event truly appealing, you have to get clever with the name. Don’t just call it a networking event. Rather, make your event sound fun—because it will be! It’ll be a fun event with fun people… with the added benefit of networking. Who could resist?!
Here are a few event name ideas to give you a better idea of what we’re talking about:
- For your kickboxing event: Box Talks
- For your ping pong event: Pints and Ping Pong
- For your beer tasting event: Banter and Beers
- For your picnic event: Picnic With Your Peers
Summed up, if your event doesn’t sound like a chore to go to, and it’s something people would actually want to do after work or on the weekends, your attendance numbers will rise.
2. Ask young members what they’d be interested in.
You’re more likely to plan events that your young professional members actually want to attend by asking them what kind of events they want to attend. Sounds simple, right? But many of us often forget this step!
You can email members a survey, conduct an informal survey at one of your events, or pose a question in your membership discussion forum if you have one. However you obtain the information, just make sure you’re remembering to ask!
3. Offer virtual or hybrid events to engage members who live farther away.
If your members live across a wide geographic range, don’t forget to plan events that can engage even those unable to attend in person. Many of the young professional event ideas we highlighted above can be adapted to offer virtual or hybrid options.
4. Assign buddies before or during the event.
Everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to networking and talking to people they’ve never met before. You can help your more introverted members feel more at ease by assigning buddies before or during the event. This makes it so that instead of them having to pick a random person to go up to, they already know who they can begin a conversation with.
You can even have multiple buddies picked out for the events and turn it into a low-key speed networking event where every 5 to 15 minutes or so, you switch buddies so everyone can meet more people.
5. Promote your event widely ahead of time.
Make sure your young professionals know about your event ahead of time so they can save the time on the calendars and make plans to attend. Increase the likelihood of reaching everyone by using a multichannel digital marketing strategy.
You can even come up with a hashtag for your event. This makes it easy to spread the word over social media, which can attract prospective members to your event too. It also facilitates a fun way to collect and re-share photos attendees post from the event using the hashtag.
6. Thank members for attending.
Follow-up is key. Let your members know that you appreciated them joining the event. You can show your gratitude by sending them photo albums of pictures taken during the event and encourage them to share them!
7. Help members continue connecting after your event.
Any good networking event should be the beginning, not the end, of connections. Facilitate continued networking among your young professional members by reminding attendees to reach out and continue fostering connections.
You can also use that reminder to tell them about other young professional event ideas you have in store for the future.
Event ideas to engage young younger members
Engaging with your young professional members is important for ensuring the sustainability of your association, demonstrating the value you offer your members, and getting new ideas for your future programming.
There are many fun, easy activities you can use that make networking seem less drab and more fab! Use the ones from this article as your inspiration. Look for activities that are hands-on, social, and creative—and don’t forget to plan some virtual options for folks as well!
Want more tips for recruiting and engaging young professionals? Check out our free guide here.