It began with an email from Marilee Yorchak, calling people to join the board of BMA Colorado. The email ignited a passion not only for BMA, but also for giving like-minded young marketing professionals a community to call home. Now BMA Colorado has built a YP group that creates opportunities for those interested in and passionate about marketing — a place to engage and learn from more than 400 BMA Colorado members. The community we created has people asking what we can do to build similar communities in chapters across the nation.
It started with passion. Christy Schindler, while still a college student, saw something special in BMA Colorado. She and other YPs like Marcus Durante and Carlo Ritschl jumped in, taking a risk and starting what was to become the BMA Colorado Young Professionals.
It grew from the idea of an agency crawl, an event that sparked interest among YPs trying to find the area of marketing that interested them. The event consisted of a party bus, several agency stops, food, beverages — and a vision of the future of the BMA Colorado YP program.
When I came into the picture, the organization hosted a successful event called “Cocktails and Conversations with the C-Suite.” We had several executive marketers and rotating groups of YPs who were interested in talking to them. It became the launch pad for our signature event, which we still call Cocktails and Conversations.
This event has become the program cornerstone. It gives YPs access to executive-level marketers in a laidback networking atmosphere. We provide structure, and we have taken any barriers or intimidating factors out of the equation.
In June 2011, Dave Greves, then president of the chapter, and the entire board took a leap of faith. They devoted a portion of the budget to the young professional program and gave us a seat at the table. Christy and I became program co-chairs. Our goal: Create a community where people would want to stay and would ultimately engage with the larger BMA network.
Their support, along with the help — key to any YP program success — of a group of passionate committee members, gave us the freedom to take our vision and make a run at changing the world. And increasing YPs’ involvement in marketing.
We did it with a three-tier event structure, hosting free meet-ups and for-pay “Cocktails and Conversations.” A top-tier, for-pay Spring Fling engaged graduate students attending area universities, as well as YPs. The event featured a panel of executive marketers discussing the things that they wish they had known when they were YPs.
The result has been support from national leaders, a new young professional membership rate and what I believe will be a strong integration of YPs into the greater BMA community. We are creating the next generation of top-class marketers.