Boomer, Gen-X, Gen-Y? We all do it differently.
Millennials (ages 13-29) build professional relationships differently than the rest of us. Digital platforms and electronic devices are front and center for millennials and it should be no surprise that both are critical networking tools for this age group.
Understanding how millennials network may just be a benefit to each one of us boomers.
As a baby-boomer, I continue to use more face-2-face methodologies as the core of my networking. I even (gasp) pick up the phone and call people. I like to meet people out at various events and get to know them by shaking their hand and looking them in the eye.
Millennials first step is to connect with you via one of a few different social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and basic text messaging. While I might find that a bit cold, this is the entry point and first layer of connectivity.
It is said that the key to networking is building long-lasting relationships. Not sure how well you have done in the past, but I find building relationships to be pretty darn hard. I guess that is why the idea of networking feels more like an inconvenience. In order for me to build a long-term relationship with you I have to get to know you. That is why I want to connect with you over time.
Millennials use your social activity (as represented by the posts, shares, likes, photos, etc.) to get to know you. That is why they connect with you on the social platforms as a first move. Your activity serves as a proxy for the face-2-face connections that I use as a boomer.
Lastly, I network to build relationships and I build relationships in order to accomplish my personal and business goals. I am goal driven and evaluate my progress to those goals. And yes, money and status and respect are components of that evaluation. I am a boomer so get over it. (Blame it on my parents.)
Millennials are driven by a much different engine that intertwines business and personal. It is why they have no problems sharing their lives for all to see. They like to work in groups, they look for jobs that have an immediate impact, they talk about what they want before they talk about what they do. And, they are far pickier in how deeply they connect with others.
Boomer? Millennial? Something in between? Building relationships means different things to different people. Understand how others create connectedness and you might jut figure out something for yourself.