With Millennials entering the market and baby boomers exiting, it is more and more crucial for scientific associations to involve young physicians and facilitate an easy handover. Associations have to think about younger generations increasingly and to take action in a way that will deliver value to them. Association congresses are, for example, a great time to promote it.
But the increasing of the membership of young professionals is not enough, and should not be considered as an objective in itself. The challenge for associations is to engage the young generations as an active part of the association’s life, giving them direct responsibilities, creating volunteer opportunities, speaking their languages and answering their specific needs.
There are multiple ways of engaging the new generation, here are some best practices, taken from recent events.
The first example involves young physicians at the highest level, where decisions are made. For instance, you can create a “parallel young board” alongside the executive board, with a representative in the executive board and supporting the congress organisation with a focus on the needs of the younger generation.
Social Ambassadors & communication multipliers
Millennials were born with smartphones in their hands, so you can attract them if you are on social media and communicate with them consistently, with stories preferably. It is a great way for you to explain, for instance, why the association can be useful for their professional development.
Young delegates, in addition, can be involved as social ambassadors and contribute throughout the congress to post and share content and videos on social media. The young social media ambassadors can play a key role when it comes to finding the right action to engage younger generations… because they are perceived as spontaneous, trustworthy and eager to share their personal experience. The ambassadors do not use a standardised language, but they speak about an activity or event they attended, filtered by their own experience, adding a more tangible feature to the ‘content’ that is produced this way.
Also, the young professionals, who play the role of volunteer ambassadors during congresses or other initiatives, will consider the association as a body that takes them into consideration, thus develop a stronger sense of belonging and will easily become ambassadors of the association itself.
Dedicated sessions and networking
Meeting people, exchanging ideas, sharing opinions are always on top of the positive experiences people take home after a conference. Yes, it is important for everyone, but those who are younger are not always aware of that and they go to a conference or follow the association’s activities mainly to develop their own knowledge. That is, of course, one of the key objectives of the association, but networking is also important, and young delegates sometimes need help to network.
Dedicated sessions like speed-dating between young delegates and industry leaders, for example, are a powerful way to establish fruitful contacts. Or, since young physicians have their own specific needs and experiences to share, it is also useful to organise dedicated sessions for this age group. You can organise a “Young Evening” or provide dedicated masterclasses or practical courses where a senior expert is available to openly interact with a small group of young attendees. Or you can arrange parallel meetings giving the opportunity to have 15-minute informal chats with senior doctors in a lounge area for instance..
This article, whose full version will be available soon in the July issue of Boardroom, was provided by the International Association of Professional Congress Organisers, author Patrizia Semprebene Buongiorno, Vice President, AIM Group International (www.aimgroupinternational.com). IAPCO represents today 133 companies comprised of over 9,100 professional congress organisers, meeting planners and managers of international and national congresses, conventions and special events from 40 countries. firstname.lastname@example.org / www.iapco.org