Will They Feel Welcome?

This is the third in a series of posts about recruiting Young Professionals to Rotary.  See the previous posts at the following links, Ten Steps to 100 New Rotary Young Professional Members, and  How to Properly Follow up Your Membership Events.

Here they come.  Excited.  Nervous.  Maybe a little unsure of themselves.  They are coming as a guest Rotarian to visit your Rotary club.  The purpose of their visit?  They are coming to unabashedly promote their business and to meet you in order to expand their professional network and perhaps find a business mentor.  You see, they joined Rotary in order to do community service and to build their business network, and they were told that in joining Rotary they were joining “the original social network.”  And as their fellow Rotarian, you are a part of it.  (Their new network, I mean.)

They will have their elevator pitch all shined up and ready to go when the Club President acknowledges them as a guest from the podium and asks them to introduce themselves. They are going to be very clear and professional as they promote themselves and why you should do business with them.  Perhaps they work in the same business or industry as you do.  Turns out they joined a new Rotary club that was just started in your city and they fully expect that one of the benefits of membership is to meet other Rotarians who might be able to help them build their business.  In fact, the club they joined is full of young professionals, but none of them have the knowledge, wisdom, experience, and contacts that you do, by virtue of the fact that you’ve built your business over decades, and you are, in many ways, the successful business man or woman that they aspire to be.

So here they come.  Will you say, “How dare they come to my club to promote themselves and their business.  That’s not what we do as Rotarians.  They haven’t “earned” the right to come to my club and give this business-oriented self-promoting speech.  Rotary is a service organization, and we don’t self-promote around here.”  Of course, you might not know that this young professional’s Rotary club probably does two to three times as much community service as yours, at least as measured by the amount of “hands on” projects they do.  Their new club exists to do community service projects and to build business networks, and they might do as many as two service projects every month.  In fact, they will probably be contacting your club to partner in a project that they’ve designed in the near future.  They really have some great new ideas for helping people in need in your community.

Hopefully when this eager young professional comes to visit your club, you will do more than extend the usual gracious Rotary welcome.  I hope you will actively search out this serious and dedicated professional after your meeting and give them some encouragement.  Thank them for visiting.  Ask if there is anything you can do to help them.  Perhaps offer to meet them for lunch or breakfast to give them some advice.  In short, give them a sense of just how valuable building a Rotary network can be to them, both in terms of business advice, and perhaps in time, personal advice as well.  If you do this, word might just begin to spread among the next generation of possible Rotarians that this Rotary network “thing” is actually VERY valuable.

Maybe, just maybe, this new Rotarian will be a new member of your own Rotary club.  It’s time for all of us to fully understand that growing a professional network is right at the top of the list for young professionals looking to join Rotary.  We need their energy, ideas, and enthusiasm.  Let’s make sure they feel welcome to our organization. Maybe we didn’t realize it before, but we are a big reason these young professionals joined Rotary.