Young Professionals from Columbus Attend 2009 Next Leaders Summit

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

The 2009 Next Leaders Summit (formerly called the "YP Summit") was held in Cincinnati, OH, September 17-19, 2009. The 6th annual summit built on our tradition of being the only forum in the world committed to developing the skills and capacity of our future leaders – and unleashing the power of the next generation to build better cities and workplaces. Summit attendees from Columbus included: Robbie Banks, young professionals manager at the Columbus Chamber, Sarah Black of 100(+) Women Who Care – Columbus Metro, Kristen Jensen of Young Professionals of Columbus (YPC), Elissa Schneider of YPC, Lynn Walsh of YPC and Kim Wingfield of Columbus Rotaract.

This guest post was written by Lynn Walsh, communication and marketing chair of Young Professionals of Columbus (YPC).

A room full of enthusiastic leaders waiting to learn ways in which they can continue to make a difference. The recent Next Leaders Summit was inspiring and contagious. One cannot help but be overwhelmed with energy and drive after leaving a conference like this. To help myself better take all of the information and ideas from a “dream” to reality, I will keep in mind these four things:

“Make it Matter”
Whether it is an e-mail or a huge event, the goal in anything you do yourself or as an organization should be to “make it matter.” Make sure it is relevant and significant to those around you. A YP's time is valuable and you do not want to waste it. The moment people do feel their time has been wasted is the moment you become irrelevant to them.

Know Your Constituents
A key in making it matter is to know who you want to attend your events and participate in your organization. If your group is focused on environmental issues, hosting a “bar-hopping” event may not resonate with your constituents. One great way to know your constituents is to survey them as much as possible. Sick of surveys? Find ways to disguise them: use Twitter to ask questions or post discussion items on Facebook and LinkedIn. Another key part of knowing your constituents is to involve as many people as possible in event brainstorming. Some groups I have been involved in keep the decision makers so close-knit that they and then the group become irrelevant. Be as welcoming as possible to new members and encourage feedback.

Clearly State the “Bargain”
Every organization has a “bargain.” Every event has a “bargain.” If not, then you need to create one. A great question posed to the Summit attendees was this: "If your organization did not exist, would it matter?" It may sound harsh, but if nothing would be different, then it is time to make changes. By creating a reason for being you are then creating a bargain for your members. If you provide something they cannot get anywhere else, they now have a reason for joining, committing their time, money, and resources, and a reason to come back. They will look at it as a bargain and not a requirement.

Personalization is Priceless
This is obvious in almost anything. Think about how you feel when you get mail that has your actual name on it or an invite to an event that was not sent to more than 20 people; you are more likely to pay attention than if it was addressed to “current resident” or sent to a listserv of e-mail addresses. This can take time, but remember time is money. It is more beneficial to reach out to new members right when they join rather than assume they know how to get involved. Another easy way to create personalization is have nametags printed ahead of time for those who RSVP. People will feel as if you were expecting them and it also makes those who did not RSVP feel as if they should next time.

Next Leaders Summit 2009 Fountain Sq. 
Summit attendees (from left to right), Elissa Schneider, Lynn Walsh, Kristen Jensen and Robbie Banks, at The Bacchanalian Society's wine tasting fundraising event at Fountain Square in Cincinnati.

Next Leaders Summit 09 Group cropped
The Summit was organized by Next Generation Consulting and Mayor Mallory's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet. Pictured from right to left: Sarah Black, Lynn Walsh, Rebecca Ryan of Next Generation Consulting, Kristen Jensen, Molly Foley of Next Generation Consulting and Clara Rice of Mayor Mallory's Young Professionals Kitchen Cabinet.