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Millennials Have Rediscovered the Benefits of Joining a Professional Organization For career and business networking, social media is no substitute for meeting your peers face to face.

By John Rampton Edited by Dan Bova

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's not news that millennials love technology. This generational cohort, consisting of 24 percent of the county's population, has ranked "Technology Use" as the top reason for making their generation unique according to a report released by Nielsen. Millennials rely on technology to make their lives easier, both professionally and personally.

When it comes to their careers, millennials use social media platforms to their benefit. Whether it's connecting with colleagues, job hunting or seeking advice, social media platforms seem to have replaced the old-fashion professional organization.

In fact, according to findings from Buzz Marketing Group's, "Professional Organizations Study 2015," survey, more than one quarter of respondents referred to professional organizations as "old school." Additionally, respondents who were under the age of 40 have been leaving older groups in record numbers for the following reasons:

  • 37 percent did not see value in the group.
  • 45 percent reported participation was too expensive.
  • 35 percent said the group wasn't a community comprised of their peers.
  • 31 percent felt that groups lacked technology.
  • 27 percent said it lacked proper curation.

Related: Secrets of Successful Networking Groups

Ninety­three percent of respondents ranked social capital as very important or important to their professional lives. The value millennials put on social capital is fueling the reemergence of younger professional organizations that bring quality to a space diluted by Facebook posts and constant, but distant, connections.

"Millennial business owners and leaders overwhelmingly believe that today's professional communities are a powerful tool to build social currency and further their professional goals," says Tina Wells, founder and CEO of Buzz Marketing Group. "Over the last five years, it is clear that groups like YEC, Summit Series and Levo have transitioned the once-antiquated industry into a beacon for curated social capital, relevant professional benefits and peer-to-peer learning from Gen Y."

A majority of millennials (67 percent) stated they would "prefer to join an organization founded by peers of a similar age," such as YEC and FounderSociety. These groups have sparked a resurgence of professional organization because they are meeting the wants and needs of Millennial professionals and business owners.

According to the Buzz Marketing Group survey, millennial-focused groups resonate with young professionals because they are innovative, tech savvy and useful. The survey also discovered that:

  • 92 percent believe that today's professional groups provide great opportunities to network.
  • 52 percent reported that they are more likely to join a group that is invite-only.
  • 81 percent would join a group that offers a concierge to help them use member's benefits, as opposed to an organization that is self-guided.
  • 58 percent already belong to a professional organization.
  • 77 percent of respondents who are not members of a professional organization intend to join one.

If you are a millennial who remains on the fence about a joining a professional organization, here are the main reasons why becoming a member can be beneficial to your career.

Related: 10 Questions for a Networking Referral Power Team

Social capital: Glenn Curtis notes on Investopedia, "Professional organizations allow for a congregation of intelligent, like-minded professionals that are immersed in the inner workings of the industry to gather and provide participants with access to a variety of opinions and ideas."

Whether it's joining a LinkedIn group or attending an invitation-only conference, networking can introduce you to a mentor or an advisor, and give you the opportunity to share advice with/from peers locally and globally. Social capital is the most important currency in business, and members of professional organizations can access it easily and often. By establishing trust with industry leaders and colleagues you can help each other reach professional goals.

Learn: Millennials who join a professional organization gain access to educational resources like industry research, newsletters, seminars, courses and events where leading industry thought-leaders share insight into the latest trends, innovations, technology and best practices. Members further their careers by staying ahead of their competitors.

Job opportunities: Most professional organizations share job listings that are exclusive to members. Your freshly-formed network can connect you with individuals and companies searching for someone with your specific talents or, if you're hiring, introductions to top candidates when the begin looking for open positions.

Develop leadership skills: Membership in a professional organization brings you the chance to develop your leadership skills speaking at industry events, answering questions on forums or contributing content to the group's newsletter or website. That is practice for becoming a stronger leader that will help you achieve your professional goals by becoming a trusted and respected addition to the group of industry leaders.

Exclusive services and benefits: Being a member of a professional group brings millennials exclusive perks. Besides being a member of a cultural landscape of a professional community, organizations such as CoachesForum offer access to educational resources and invite-only events. Members have access to exclusive deals and discounts tailored to their business needs. Professional communities now provide members everything from healthcare to travel discounts to a complimentary FoundersCard membership.

Opportunity to give back: Because Millennials are so charitable, professional organizations provide a once-in-a-lifetime chance to give back. YEC, for example, allows members to speak, teach or participate in nonprofit organizations like Junior Achievement. Other organizations will coordinate with local charitable organizations, such as food banks or animal shelters, as ways to give back to the community.

Despite their reliance on social media platforms, millennials would prefer to become members of professional organizations that enhance their careers. However, millennials are looking for affordable groups that consist of their peers and utilize technology.

For those considering a membership to a professional group, keep in mind you will get what you put into it. This means you want to be an active and productive member who mingles with other members and contributes to the community by curating useful content.

Related: 4 Can't-Fail Ways to Grow Your Professional Network

John Rampton

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® VIP

Entrepreneur and Connector

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the calendar productivity tool Calendar.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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