I’ll be blunt: over the years, most efforts to appeal to younger rental people have failed and the perception has been that younger people are just not interested in joining associations anymore. The term “not engaged” gets thrown around a lot in these discussions.
As a member of the Young Professionals group within the CRA, I can assure you that my generation and the generations that follow me will always receive a benefit from joining an active association. But, like everything, we all get out what we put in. If you are a member of the joint CRA/ARA Young Professionals Network, the best thing you can do, at minimum, is to attend a local, national or international event.
Some of the fault for our failure to attract the younger generations rests squarely at the feet of the leadership of not only our own association but associations just like ours across the industry. For too long, Young Professional events have centered around social activities and fun events because that is what the older leaders thought would engage us. For whatever reason the leadership forgot about the “professional” portion of the Young Professional Network and thought that we would see value in being handed arcade tokens and being set loose for a couple hours. When that didn’t work they tried some other gimmicky programs that were equally a waste of time. But I will give them credit for trying something new and those events did at least get the ball rolling.
Progressive associations like the CRA and our American sister organization have adapted. The current CRA/ARA Young Professional Network is much heavier on the professional section of its title. If you can spare the time away from your business, you should definitely check out the Young Professional Conference. This year it has been expanded to offer both an east coast and west coast option. I promise no one will hand you any tokens! Instead you will learn about lean management during “Introduction to Lean.” This education workshop will teach you how Lean practices from the world of manufacturing can make major changes in the business you work in.
If you can’t take the time away from your business to attend the conference, then come on out to your next members meeting. I know the name sucks (who wants to go to another meeting?) but the networking opportunities alone will be worth it.
If you’re of the age I like to call “Not A Professional Person of Youth,” or NAPPY if you prefer, but know of someone who is, then there are things you can do to help us engage with them.
The easiest thing to do would be to email or call membership services and have that person added to our Young Professional Network. This will give them access to the conference as well as exclusive content and events.
The other big support you can be to both our Young Professionals and your association would be to encourage them to attend a local event. The insight and networking opportunities will be well worth the time investment.
Mike Maltby is vice-president of Ingersoll Rent-All in Ingersoll, Ont. Mike has been a fixture at CRA Ontario events since beginning his time with the association in 2006, and looks forward to connecting with CRA members nationally in the coming years.
CRA President's Message: Youth Movement
No gimmicks, just great networking.
Young professionals are the future of our industry and developing next year’s leaders, as well as leadership for decades to come, is something about which all associations including the Canadian Rental Association spend a considerable amount of time thinking.