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Piwarun: Building a young professional network

Anthony Piwarun
BMA Milwaukee

Anthony Piwarun is a search engine marketing specialist who sits on the board of directors of the Milwaukee chapter of BMA. He chairs the university outreach and young professionals committee. He spoke to Buzz about the gap that exists between university and mid-career outreach, and the programs that BMA Milwaukee has put in place to engage his young professional peers.

Buzz: Who are the members of the 'gap' demographic? 

Anthony Piwarun: Young professionals – recent graduates under the age of 30 who are in marketing and looking to expand their network and unlock their career potential. We see them as a gap between college students, a segment that the BMA Milwaukee Chapter has been successfully engaging through our University Outreach Committee, and the seasoned marketers who make up the majority of our membership.

Buzz: What are their needs and interests?

Piwarun: The needs are similar to, yet different from, those of experienced professionals. On one hand, they are looking for opportunities to network and learn. On the other, they are newer to the field and are searching for a mentor.

Buzz: What does a BMA membership offer this group?

Piwarun: We think of young professionals as next-generation talent and leadership. Membership allows young professionals to integrate with experienced professionals and see the path to a leadership role.

Buzz: How can BMA chapters build programming to attract and serve these potential members?

Piwarun: BMA chapters can start the process by creating a committee to serve the audience. The BMA Milwaukee chapter has noticed that a YP committee populated by young professionals makes it easier to plan programming that not only sounds interesting, but that also provides value to attendees.

Young professionals enjoy the networking aspect of traditional programs, but they want to network while learning about the experiences of others in a less traditional setting —the local pub, a sports bar, or a conference room at a local advertising agency. We’ve found that having YP programs in these settings attracts a larger audience and provides a higher engagement factor.

Buzz: What has BMA Milwaukee put in place on this front?

Piwarun: The BMA Milwaukee chapter has a YP committee with actual young professionals planning the programming. We aim to have events every other month. In addition to having young professionals on the committee, we also have three YPs on the chapter board, which allows us to give feedback on programming for the greater membership. We have input into what goes on at the chapter level. It’s also a learning experience that we can apply to future responsibilities in our career.

Our program is only in its first couple of years, but I believe that the way that the BMA Milwaukee chapter has positioned and promoted the YP program provides a model from which other chapters can learn.

Comments (1)
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Randy Will
Posted Feb 14, 2013 at 11:50 AM

As former chair of the UOC (2004-09), I am thrilled to see Anthony and BMA-Milwaukee continuing their leading-edge efforts to engage the YP demographic. The dividends are not restricted to the obvious (i.e., membership increases); they include establishing wonderful long-term professional (and personal) relationships, professional development in leadership, and....dare I say, some really fun times! Very gratifying to see BMA's commitment to the continuation of this essential program!

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