I’m attending the MCON12 a virtual conference to explore ideas, strategies, and to hear directly from experts on how to organize millennial engagement programs. It is all being done online through video streaming and chats. The networking sessions are also virtual, being held as chats.
I listened to the morning keynote, “The Entrepreneurial Spirit Millennials” delivered by Scott Gerber who is the Founder and Co Founder of Gen Y Capital Partners and the Young Entrepreneur Council. He talked about how Millennials are changing the work place. (See this infographic)
He started some with a personal story of being a Millennial, along with some context of the economic environment and upbringing of Millennials. That they were told they were the “best generation” and that parents wanted them to be better. But with economic realities, those promises were broken.
Ten years ago, he made a decision to start his own business while in college. He made every mistake in the book, but was able to scale a business from 0 to thousands of dollars a month. He had no education in the school of hard knocks and made it up as he went along. By his senior year in college, he bankrupted his company.
He was brought up to believe that he could take over the world. This belief made him take risks and “be stupid” that lead him to failures.
When Millennials graduate, it hits them. They need a job. They get underpaid. Millennials education teaches them to be the king of the castle, not the grunts to get the coffee. That’s why it is hard to connect to them.
He believes that the new economy will change the way young people will be developed today. We have to understand what made this generation think in this way and also understand their strengths. If not, they will have no interest working for established organizations. They’ll tell traditional nonprofits, we don’t need you.
How to Tap into Millennials
- Stop saying that Millennials are lazy and spoiled. Leverage that ego. You are not being creative. You have to inspire Millennials not talk at them. Don’t put them down and make them feel like they are the lowly employee on the totem poll. Talk with Millennials, Work with Millennials. Collaborative with Millennials.
- Millennials are not a market. In one blink of an eye, we can unite behind a single cause and take you out or make you a hero. It only takes one of us to create revolution.
- Millennials are 24-7 generation. The Internet has caused this. Babyboomers think Millennials are lazy. We don’t work hard, we work smarter. We are 24-7 generation. We can get you new business at 2 am on Saturday by being on Facebook. We are a generation that doesn’t know what it is like not to have the Internet or a Microwave. The traditional workplace norm of a 9-5 schedule doesn’t work for us.
- Speak to Millennials. In the corporate world, there is a hierarchy that makes decisions. It’s top down. The upper generation of a company handle the younger generation. “Guess what, we are not good at listening to older folks. We tune out.” Babyboomers need to figure out what Millennials are inspired by your organization or mission and take the ball and run with it. They can be your internal Ambassadors. If you can find a Millennial brand ambassador, they will find and inspires thousands.
- Some advice for using social media to reach Millennial. Don’t just put up a Facebook Page or tweet at us. We’re not stupid. You need a brand ambassador and authenticity. You need to build community. You need real world dialogue. Get other people to spread the world. The concept is simple, but hard to implement. “Most Millennials don’t read your crap, but if you get those ambassadors you will get their attention.”
- Social media and personal branding are a part of the Millennial culture. We are a generation of people who feels it is important to tell their friends what they are doing at this second. If you can tap into the brand of your brand ambassadors you can be successful. Don’t just throw schwag at young people, but include them the strategy discussion and let them know how important they are to your strategy. Sit down with your brand ambassadors over coffee and tell them why it matters and how to inspire them. Tap into their personal brands and find ways to inspire them to promote your brand.
- Millennials want to do something that matters. Upon graduation, their dreams were burst because they didn’t get the corner office but the mail room. Babyboomers need to mentor these young people and treat them like equals, not grunts. Ask the Millennials, “What is your opinion?” Many times those ideas won’t fit, but some will and that could lead to dramatic success.
- Millennial leadership is based on impulse and impatient action. We don’t want to wait ten years or wade through the bureaucratic stuff. Find ways for Millennial to navigate. Let Millennials run with the ball and get it done. Don’t make Millennials desk jockeys. Understand that Millennials will not conform to your rules. Make Millennials leaders and the power to implement their ideas. Leadership comes from trusting people. Should that Millennial fail, teach them a learning lesson.
- Millennials don’t want to use your stupid campaigns, your Twitter hashtag, or another platform. Mediums that didn’t start in our lifetime don’t have meaning for us. That’s what changes business. Message before platform. Your message carries a generation. Your authority carries a generation. Your ability to inspire will take your nonprofit through the next 100 years. You must keep up with technology!
- Let go!!! Millennials have no loyalty to anyone but themselves. Let Millennials harness your brand, let your brand harness Millennial power. Let the crowd own your brand and you will be successful.