Today’s students are tomorrow’s change makers. With this in mind, recruiters for organizations of all stripes are often tasked with finding and attracting members where the opportunity is the ripest: college campuses.
Industries across the board are constantly innovating, and it will be up to the current generation of students to decide the direction in which it changes. Universities and college campuses are home to some of the brightest and boldest minds today. As a result, they are a hotbed of potential talent and prospective members.
Membership organizations often fail to recognize the value in planting these seeds early. Students are an untapped resource of prospective members who have yet to be introduced to your professional association—or your competitors. College students have a high capacity for new skills and come with a fresh perspective on the industry.
Read on for our top strategies for attracting college students to your membership organization, and the value organizations can offer to students.
Leverage Social Media
According to a survey conducted by AfterCollege, 89% of college students use social media to search for job opportunities and research companies. With the wide range of platforms available, professional organizations should leverage social media to their fullest potential.
In addition to keeping associations up-to-date on current trends, social media provides a platform for outreach that is easy to maintain, update, and scale. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and even TikTok are creative and essential tools for reaching out to this generation by doing the following:
- Create a solid and consistent social media presence
- Regularly post updates about upcoming events
- Highlight the benefits of joining their organization
- Ensure a social media representative is monitoring the direct messages for any inquiries
- Partner with influential student social media accounts to promote the organization
- Create posts with newly-joined student members or alums, as this kind of authentic content will help attract their peers
Optimizing online content is vital for this generation as they spend a considerable amount of time online.
Offer Targeted Benefits
Publishing opportunities, event access, and networking with like-minded individuals are all typical perks of joining an organization; however, associations must create targeted value for the student population.
- Access to Mentorship Programs — A valuable resource for new professionals in the field, mentorship programs allows connecting with experienced professionals who can offer guidance and support as they navigate their career paths.
- Access to Job Boards — A crucial aspect of professional development for students, especially as they transition into the workforce. By joining professional organizations, students can then gain exclusive access to job postings and internships that may not be available through their university’s career center. This benefit is particularly valuable for students seeking employment in highly competitive industries, as it gives them an advantage over other job seekers.
- Scholarships — Tuition assistance or other forms of financial support are always a bonus for students. Organizations that offer special scholarships are an excellent way to target this population, helping them cover the cost of attending events, workshops, or school-related fees.
- Exclusive Discounts on Industry Certifications — Similar to scholarships, organizations should highlight the exclusive discounts on certifications for all members. Since students constantly seek to expand their knowledge, professional associations should partner with and take advantage of these extracurricular training programs.
- Offer Student Fees — Cost is a common inhibitor for membership organizations, so organizations must have student-only dues and fees to join.
Partner With Student Clubs
Professional organizations should partner with student organizations depending on the specific niche and industry. This is an excellent way for students to transition into a similar community after graduation, as they share common interests and goals. In addition, associations can work with student groups to host events or create joint initiatives that benefit both organizations.
This partnership can also allow organizations to promote their company initiatives and highlight why members should join.
Participate in Campus Events
Attending campus events such as club board meetings, career fairs, social events, and other student gatherings can be an excellent way to reach out to students directly. Associations can set up a booth, distribute informational materials, and engage with students face-to-face to pique their interest in the organization’s exclusive benefits.
These interactions help associations build relationships with potential members and answer any questions. This personal touch can go a long way in building trust and credibility with students and may interest their peers in joining.
Additionally, by attending university events, organizations can gain valuable insight into the needs and concerns of college students, which can help them tailor their offerings and benefits to better meet this demographic’s needs.
While having a presence at college campuses is a tried and true method of community outreach, it’s essential to have an engaging and relevant message. One that resonates with the younger generation, who is poised to be the future leaders of professional associations.
It’s essential to recruit students into your professional organization strategically, but it all starts with knowing your goals and the needs of your target population. Then, by directing the right marketing avenues and creatively representing your organization, you can establish a strong presence on college campuses in no time.