On Saturday the Young Democrats of Arizona’s leaders of working and young professional chapters met in Phoenix to discuss recruitment, street teams, and best practices.

The discussion began on street teams for both advocacy and collecting vote pledges, specifically brainstorming locations:

  • Bars, coffee shops, and local hangouts
  • Sports events
  • Cultural events
  • Concerts
  • City, community, and county events

Street teams are an example of peer-to-peer organizing, so you should look for places where young people live or hang out. In Maricopa County there are bar districts, ASU games, county events, First Fridays in Phoenix, and tons of concerts and local events.

Stan Williams, Executive Vice President of YDAZ, talked about how to engage with young people at these places. It is important to be friendly and talk to people as you would if you were hanging out there yourself. You can’t wait for people to come up to you, you have to go talk to them. Another important tip is to make sure that the action you want them to take, whether it is signing a vote pledge or a petition, is as easy as possible.

The other big topic discussed was recruiting and maintaining membership of a young professionals chapter. In Arizona members from these chapters tend to either be alumni of university chapters or brand new to the organization.

One of the big draws of a young professionals organization is that it is an opportunity to meet new people and friends. Once a person has graduated from high school or college it is no longer as easy to find people that are close in age with similar interests. A lot of people that have never been involved before are looking to find new people.

Young professionals groups should be somewhat consistent. Members tend to have busy schedules, so it is helpful to know that meetings are always on the second Thursday of the month at 7 or whatever the time and frequency may be. The way for someone to find out when a meeting or event is should also be consistent. If the group has a web page, the meetings should be posted. If an email or Facebook message goes out about each meeting, you can’t forget to send one a certain month. If you do, people may think that the meeting isn’t happening.

Finally, it is important that the group’s officers and members are inclusive. Being overly cliquish can turn potential members off, and talking above their heads using political lingo can make them feel that they don’t belong or are too behind the curve. Young professionals are going to vary greatly in how much they are going to put in to an organization, and a person who is only able to come to some social events should not be looked down on. Many of those people will eventually do more if your organization does a good job being inclusive and creating events that people want to attend.

Every area and young professionals organization is different. Share your ideas and experiences with street teams and young professionals in the comments.