Networking & Millenials

Last week I participated in an event for the PMA here in Chicago where I helped facilitate a round-table discussion on Networking. What was interesting is that while Millenials are great at connecting TO people, they are not always so sure how to connect WITH them. When it comes to tapping into their own network of friends, colleagues and others, they are simply at a loss for how to even begin.

Some of the “more experienced” members of the group (Baby Boomers and a few Gen X) were quite adept at managing their own networks, and would reference their old Rolodex files or online contact databases, and how they regularly manage and nurture those relationships. A few hadn’t made the leap to online social or professional networking sites. (Which I think is a huge mistake.) For those who did, LinkedIn and other sites may have helped them keep better tabs on people, but for some, real connectivity comes in the form of real face-to-face contact over lunch, drinks or even on the phone. And the info they’ve jotted down on the back of business cards or into Rolodex cards over the years cannot be so easily replaced by technology.

Perhaps most telling was a comment from a recent college grad who contacted me later for advice. He said “I don’t know most of the people I’m linked to on Facebook, and the ones I do know can’t help me get a job.”

Makes me think about the value of your social network in your professional world. Being Gen X, mine clearly overlap. And admittedly I also try to separate biz and personal between FB and LI. But for someone coming into the business today, while they have wonderful tools to automate and make keeping in touch more convenient, they have to figure out which connections are of what value to them, and then find ways to actually create meaningful connections to those people beyond a like, friend or link.