What Is Most Important When Starting a Young Professionals Group?

Our community would greatly benefit from a young professionals group. We are torn on how much 'formalization' we should do before the group really even gets off the ground. Should we grow a grassroots movement and formalize it when it is warranted? Or should we set bylaws, find a fiduciary, etc. before recruiting?

Answer

Bruce Hoag (Work Psychologist & Business Coach, Dr Bruce Hoag)
At the risk of stating the obvious, I'd say that you need to decide at what age members cease to be 'young.'

I should also mention that physical, mental, and emotional ages differ. For example, if you read about the characteristics of the various generations, you'll notice that there tend to be clear differences between veterans, baby-boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, the Nexters, and the Millenials. However, physical age by itself is an insufficient marker for categorizing members in a group such as the one you describe. By that I mean that there are baby-boomers who think like veterans, and there are baby-boomers who think like those in the younger generations.

What you might do is to create a questionnaire. The sort of thing I envision would consist of statements about a particular issue, each written with the mindset of a particular generation. Then each applicant could choose the sentence that resonated with him/her. From that you could glean which applicants had the mindset of a young professionals group.

In order to construct such a questionnaire properly, be sure to consult with an occupational psychologist who has a working knowledge of how to design psychometric tests. If it done in the right way, you could end up with a powerful selection instrument; but if it's done in the wrong way, you'll not only accept people who shouldn't be in the group, but also bar from membership those that should.
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