Gen Y: DY lk me? txt Y or N

So today I attended a networking class. I was surprised at the audience. Of all the people present, guess how many were Gen Y???

None.

Surprising isn’t it. I KNOW! Why wouldn’t we show up for a free class teaching people how to network and get their name out there? 

2 reasons:

  1. We are the connected generation – and by connected, I mean disconnected.
  2. We are convinced that our work will speak for itself so we don’t need to connect.

Let’s talk about the 1st.

For Gen Y, connectedness (calm down spell check, I made it up) is our strong suit, right? Wrong. Today, many people judge their influence by Twitter followers or FB friends but in actuality, how many of those people could you call if you needed a job or broke down on the side of the road and they’d come get you? Although we are more connected with technology than any generation before us, all it takes is a quick #GenY search on Twitter to find blog after blog from Gen Y people talking about how lonely we really are.

FB friends ≠ friends

The good news is Gen Y wants to learn. The bad news is we’ve never had to learn how to network. 

In years past, deals were done on golf courses and racquet clubs but with the globalization occurring all around us, it’s changing. How do we stay connected? How do we network? If we don’t have those cigar smoking boomers to draw us into their inner circles and sponsor our CC memberships, how do we do it ourselves?

Here are 3 tips to successful networking. I know they’re old, but they still work.

1.Engage; don’t network. Enter the conversation trying to understand how you can help the other person. I know, you’re thinking ‘I need them to give me a job!’ but that’s not enough. Find out a way to genuinely connect and engage the other person by searching for a way to help them. What problems do they face? What challenges do their industries face over the next 12 months? 

2.Talk about their favorite subject – not yours. BTW, their favorite subject??? Them. People love to talk about themselves so ask open-ended questions that will get people talking comfortably. The more comfortable they are, the more they’ll open up. The more they open up, the more opportunity you’ll have to make a connection. You went to the same school, you like the same football team, your boyfriend works for their aunt…maybe not that one… it doesn’t matter. All of these things can be the spark of a wonderful networking relationship.

3.Follow up. I know this is old fashioned, but it works better today than ever before. Know why? Because no one does it! As a general rule, you should follow up in a manner that reflects the person, the meeting and their contribution. What I mean is that if they’re 1,000 miles away and you Skype a conversation, an email works great. If you have lunch with them and they give you a ton of great insight, a HAND WRITTEN note works wonders (don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be in cursive). I recently spoke to an HR director that got 480 applicants for 1 position. Of those, guess how many sent a note? 1. Yep, 30 sent an email and 1 sent a hand written note. Guess who got the interview???

Today we text so much our thumbs are calloused. The reason most of us test is b/c we don’t want to engage in a whole conversation. Trust me, I understand, but in a world where everyone out there is competing for attention, a small thing like this will really set you apart. 

Networking is a skill that Gen Y needs sooooo desperately that the one or two of us who master the skill will be the real leaders tomorrow.

Do you agree? What else does Gen Y need to know about networking and being genuinely connected? Are we connected?

 

 

 

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