Working with Other Young Professional Groups
As we have worked to build our chapter in the Triad area of North Carolina (Greensboro, Winston-Salem and the surrounding communities), one thing we have not fallen short of is finding organizations to help us with our initiatives. Our challenge though is setting ourselves apart among these other young professional groups. We have at least three major active groups and all are helping promote the YNPN chapter.
Yet, due to a small number of active young professionals as a whole, many of our target group is already over-involved and/or may be jaded by the older groups. We are battling misconceptions of being an initiative of one group and another "lets go volunteer and do good things" group. People are also wondering why we need another young professionals group, based in part on those misconceptions. Another person told me of a failed attempt at a Triad YNPN chapter.
Yet, we are overcoming these issues. Here are ways we are building our chapter around those challenges:
- Speaking clearly about the YNPN mission and history: We emphasize that our group is a professional development and support group for young professionals who are paid employees and/or full-time volunteers for nonprofit organizations. We also mention our group is national and the other, bigger, cities it's been established in. People are then excited about their own network geared to them and also being a part of something that's national.
- Working with, not competing with, other young professional groups: If it were not for other professional organizations and the young professional groups, we would not have the traction and support we have right now. Also, it would probably be a membership of just me. Be clear that your YNPN chapter is a complement to other young professional groups and be open to co-sponsoring events and spreading the word about their initiatives. Also, it's worth noting to these organizations that as nonprofits, this is their professional organization. Be nice, be respectful and work to not step on their toes as well.
- Establishing clear communication channels: While YNPN National provides us with iModules for communication, it takes a while to get it set up properly. The young pros in our area kept asking us about our website, Facebook presence and email site, as well as being added to our listserv. We went ahead and established a Gmail account,a Twitter feed, a WordPress page and a Facebook group, which I just upgraded to an actual fan page. I try to communicate as much as possible through one of those channels, so we don't fade in the background.
So fellow emerging and novice chapters, are you experiencing similar challenges? Affiliates and older novice chapters, what are some success stories you can share?