Over the years many have asked me how networking has changed as the Gen Y / Millennial generation have come into work force. I do not think it has changed. Networking is simply about creating long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships between two or more people where all involved find higher levels of success. These actions do not know age, gender, race or religion.
Fast Company magazine had a great article in December 2015 called the "8 MYTHS ABOUT MILLENNIALS AT WORK THAT NEED TO DIE". This wonderful piece, written by Stephanie Vozza, shows that over time the media has created a false image of what it means to be a Millennial. My own interaction with young professionals is that they simply people (not that different at all).
Yes, they grew up with the internet and cell phones, but their hopes and dreams are the same as all young people who have come before them.
My favorite part of the article was Myth #2:
While millennials are more heavily immersed in technology and know how to better utilize it than other generations, Harrington says that doesn’t make them people-averse.
"What was interesting was when we asked how they found their most recent position, instead of saying ‘social media’ like we expected, the number one answer was that they were referred by a friend, relative, or another connection," he says. "They are using the tried-and-true method of networking."When I speak at events, it is the younger generation who most resonate with my message. Some unexperienced organizers worry about hiring me if they have Millennial audience members (thinking the young will rebel against tips that involve live conversations), but those are the people who get most excited about my message of building lasting business connections. These young professionals are hungry to improve face-to-face networking skills, but too often their superiors are not providing them with the knowledge and training they desire. Too many are assuming prefer the digital route and are ignoring the real needs.
While the tools we use to communicate have changed over the years, what motivates people in forming relationships is not really all that complicated. People do business with those they know, like and trust. A "like", "link", "share" or "follow" is not the same as a real friendship, and the Millennials are very clear on the difference.
We all need to give these young professionals a break and not profile them by lumping them with what the "experts" have told us about their preferences. In talking with clients who have special training for young "high potentials" in their workforce, they have come to put NETWORKING as a "must have" topic in their training programs.
As the next generation ages into higher levels of their careers, they are discovering those who are the best connected (and who actively work to build their connections and personal brands) are getting promoted. This is a smart group of people who are clear that honest relationships are their ticket to more success.
I predict we will see a lot more articles that will talk about Millennials and networking, as it is real and it is happening all over the place every day.
Check out the whole article on Fast Company Magazine's Website.
Have A Great Day.