From: Katie Schiltz, President; Katie Nehl, Vice President; Jillian Lagasse, Chairperson; and Melinda Weninger, Secretary/Treasurer
September 13, 2019
Since our inception in 2005, the Bismarck Mandan Young Professionals Network (YPN) has concentrated on one mission: Career Minded. Community Focused. We have grown from a handful of young professionals to an incredible amount of 250+ members across all industries and backgrounds. While we remain dedicated to the roots we were built on, our demographic has changed over the years.
As we’ve grown, we’ve added teams, programs, partnerships, and most certainly, we’ve added events. In 2018, we held 60 YPN team meetings and 63 YPN events. That equals 123 events, which breaks down to a YPN event every 3 days. As an all-volunteer group, that number is unrealistic and unfeasible to maintain long-term. We also noted our attendance dropping at events that were closely scheduled to other YPN events, a reflection of the fact that young professionals today are busy with work, families, and other events outside of YPN.
At our last YPN strategic planning session in 2018, it became loud and clear that we needed to narrow our focus and really provide programming that reflects quality over quantity. To read directly (in part) from our 2018-2020 strategic plan:
- Our goal is to synthesize team roles and responsibilities to three buckets (professional development, service, social) to reflect greatest needed and requests of members.
- We will build our capacity to provide higher quality, more-focused events and programming
Our bi-annual membership survey tells us that members join the YP Network for service opportunities, professional development, and social events/networking. For these reasons, we are excited to be moving forward with a plan to focus on these three areas.
How did we get here? Over the years, we have been leading up to this, with many co-leads finding their two-year terms as too much of a time commitment. We have also received feedback directly from members, the Chamber EDC, and our YP Wisdom Team, a group of highly successful business leaders in the community, that we can improve our focused effort as a network.
Our initial plan is to:
- Facilitate a transition plan from now through May 2020, when our Annual Cinco Meeting takes place.
- Restructure “teams” in order to be one united network front providing vast opportunities for all young professionals. Eliminating mandatory monthly team meetings will allow members to more freely enjoy other events YPN offers.
- Our Leadership Board will include three main committees, rather than six separate teams. Six people will lead these committees with different areas of interest: two social, two service, and two professional development.
- We will continue with our Wisdom Team as-is.
- Research adding a 3-year-term marketing specialist to the Executive Team (while still keeping President, Vice President, Chairperson, Secretary/Treasurer).
- Downsize on number of events, and set a structured plan going forward
In downsizing the number of YPN events we hold each year, our plan is to hold 35-52 events the entire calendar year; this equals 2-4 events per month, and 1 or less event per week. The types of events will give members enough quality and variety of events each month to choose from, focusing on professional development, service opportunities, and networking.
Many details are still being ironed out, such as our partner program, which is an extremely important part of the YP Network! At this point, we are tentatively looking at assigning someone to manage the partner liaisons. This could possibly be a separate position, not part of the regular YP Leadership Board.
In closing, we are excited to transition toward a more streamlined YP Network with a more focused effort! We want our events and programming to continually be tailored, positive, high-quality, and overall amazing. We look forward to you joining us on this journey! If you have any questions, our door is always open to chat; please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie S., Katie N., Jillian and Melinda