Millennial Women

The Importance of Community Involvement

As millennials, we are more interconnected than ever—with a variety of social media platforms and constantly evolving technology at our fingertips. It’s easy to  connect with someone on LinkedIn, or follow them on Twitter,  but this month, we wanted to highlight something else—beyond online connectivity—that’s important to a lot of millennials for both personal and professional reasons: in-person, community involvement.

Community involvement can take several different forms, and any activity that helps you get plugged into your community and meet people is time well spent. We’ve reflected on some of the community activities and involvement that we’ve been a part of, and—based on our own personal experiences—can offer the following suggestions:

1. New to an area? Or looking to begin getting involved? If you’re simply looking to get started with community involvement, many non-profit groups have special young professionals or “YP” committees and/or will hold networking events targeted towards YP’s. These are a great way to begin to meet people generally and learn about organizations and initiatives in your community, especially if you happen to be new to an area and/or just want to take the first steps towards getting more involved. Your local chamber of commerce is a great place to start.

2. Looking for professional development? Or looking for ways to invest more time in relationship building? After you’ve been to several networking events (such as those referenced in #1 above), you might find yourself wanting opportunities to interact with other community members in a more meaningful way, beyond attending events here and there. You also might be seeking professional development opportunities.  If this is the case, consider a leadership program. All three of us have been through at least one leadership program in our community. These programs typically span several sessions (several weeks or even months), involve the same group of participants (often called your “class”) and offer substantive professional development training. These programs are great because they can be both an investment in yourself and your career, as well as in relationship building in your community.

3. Looking for ways to effect meaningful change? For anyone looking for opportunities to actually effectuate change in an organization or in your community, consider joining a board for a local charity or non-profit. Board participation is a great way to support a cause you feel passionate about, obtain leadership experience,  get plugged into a certain niche area, and to make lasting professional connections with others on your Board. Board participation can also translate into business development opportunities. Just as one example, many charities and non-profits have fundraising events which your organization can sponsor.  If you choose this route, make sure to become an engaged member.  Get to know fellow board members and offer to lead or join a committee.  Many communities offer a board matching or board bank program to help you identify these opportunities.

Developing community connections can take more time and effort than simply connecting with someone online, or following an organization on social media, but it’s time and effort well spent and really helps develop your network in a meaningful way. Let us know what community events you all are most excited about this summer!

Until next month, Lindsay, Melanie, and Elise.

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