What Are We Teaching Children about Business and Networking?

My Daddy Is Ambassador and I’m a Brownie

When Martha Taft was a young girl in elementary school, she was asked to introduce herself to a group of people. “My name is Martha Bowers Taft,” said the child. “My great-grandfather was President of the United States. My grandfather was a United States Senator. My daddy is Ambassador to Ireland. And I am a Brownie.”

 I thought of that quote when I recently heard the following story from Nanette Polito from Cincinatti:

In this day of technology, our younger generation understands all the social media and how to communicate through texting, email, instant messaging, and Facebook. We, the slightly older generation, need them to help us wade through it.

But does the younger generation really understand the importance of creating face-to-face personal relationships?

 

As a member of BNI for the last 14 years and an area director for Greater Cincinnati and Northern KY for the last eight years, my son and daughter both grew up on BNI. What I never realized was they were watching from afar and taking it all in.

During the summer months, the kids sometimes would tag along with me to my chapter visits. Because they were business meetings, I would have them sit off to the side. One particular morning my daughter, then 12, sat in a different part of the restaurant. The group did not want her sitting alone and insisted she sit with us. So, I let her.

The meeting proceeded, and it came time for the 60-second commercials; Alexandra was sitting on my right and the commercials were going clockwise. As the gentleman on my daughter’s right stood to give his commercial, I prepared to give mine. But, before I could stand, Alexandra jumped up and said, “Hi, my name is Alexandra Polito. I am 12 years old and a Red Cross Certified babysitter. A good referral for me would be your children, if you need a qualified sitter.”

I was proud—and shocked—and so were my fellow members! Of course, we all commended her on a job well done. Proof? She received two referrals!

Who knew that those years of watching taught both of my children how to network. To this day they both have used those skills. Recently, I was talking to Alexandra about this memory and asked her if her fellow college mates really knew how to network; she stated they really didn’t.

Networking is not something taught in school, and our younger generation doesn’t understand that real importance of that face-to-face meeting and becoming visible, which leads to credibility.

So, yes, we are our children’s most important teachers, they are watching us! Make sure they see you networking and help them to understand what it is you are doing and why it is important.

 

What are we teaching our children about networking?  I’d love to hear a story from you about this.

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20 thoughts on “My Daddy Is Ambassador and I’m a Brownie

  1. What a terrific, terrific story. I can just imagine that confident 12 year-old doing that after seeing it so many times and understanding the concept from growing up within that environment. The confidence that BNI provides (adults and children!) 🙂 says so much about the importance of learning great skills and being around high-quality people on an ongoing basis. Loved the article!

  2. A great, and truth-telling story! I have had many conversations with people defending our youth and their ability to communicate given all the technology advances.

    What I hear in your article is a call to action. We must be willing to expose our youth to powerful encounters for their success. We can’t expect them to get it on their own in a world that doesn’t “show” immediate results all the time.

    Our kids today just know how to do what I call ” Bottom Line It” with their messages. Yes, they’ve removed emotion but they are clear with their needs, desires, issues and challenges. They simply cut out a lot of the jargon to get to the point because they only have 140 characters to do it.

    With networking, they learn from exposure to it. My kids are great adult communicators and leaders today because of the exposure to great networking growing up.

  3. This is a great testimonial to the power of networking! With all the advancements in technology and Social Media, it’s so important to teach others how to take their on-line networking efforts off-line. Nothing will ever replace the human touch!

    Christine L Bowen
    Ambassador, BNI Anne Arundel County MD

  4. This is a great example!

    I work with a few young interns who are wonderful with technology but do not understand networking. We all know that business is just as much about WHO you know as WHAT you know and so teaching the younger generation how to network is setting them up for successful futures.

    Thank you for sharing Dr. Misner!

  5. Thank you for an encouraging story.
    My kids are home schooled have been coming to BNI off and on for 3 years. My wife and 4 kids (12, 10, 8 and 6) help me demonstrate pediatric chiropractic, even adjusting my daughters baby doll.
    They have also done 60 sec educational skits. My oldest 2 acted like a reporter and camera man as they interviewed my about a miracle patient in my office. Another time we acted out a car accident and why everyone in the vehicle should be checked by a chiropractor.
    My kids love educating our members and helping out in the family business.

  6. What a great story! Alexandra proves exactly what Referral Institute teaches if you want a lot of referrals you have to “Be specific to be terrific”! She asked for the BNI members that had children because she is a baby sitter and received two referrals. If she said I am a baby sitter so any one that needs a baby sitter let me know would not have been as effective. Great job Alexandra by the way will you come to Flint, MI to baby sit?

  7. My son, now 16 has accompanied me when meeting clients, and years ago to a BNI chapter meeting. He is now launching his own business helping people learn to use their computers with greater efficiency and repairing laptops. He is an AVID networker and is able to promote what he does and how he can help people every time he meets new clients. He has been quite successful at getting new clients and is very eager to go on assignments with me so he can meet new people and help them out. (I am a photographer so am constantly meeting with clients both in my studio and at their home and work place). My son has discovered that face-to-face networking works as long as he is really helping. He really enjoys being helpful, and now that he can drive places with me, I can relax more and enjoy my client’s hospitality when appropriate.

  8. I am living through all this with my grandchildren. They seem to master I.T. skills faster than social skills.They do not have a lot of wholesome role models to emulate from the multi-media they are showered in daily. As parents and grandparents, it behoves us to be those wholesome role models so these young people don’t grow up to think the latest apps are more important than their neighbor.

    Wishing You Plenty To Live,

    Tom Doiron
    Atlanta

  9. I worry that kids of the future won’t need their voices. “I just want to talk to my friends” means “I’m going to tyoe out a message to someone” They don’t know how to fight face to face. 140 odd characters is a fantastic way to miscommunicate. When you fight over BBM (Blackberry messenger) you don’t see the hurt in the other person’s eyes and when there is no emotion, how do you patch up? I find that the ability to avoid face to face conflict has led children to a point where there is a very real danger of them not knowing how to communicate effectively at all with the result that those have that face to face skills, will rise to the top of the pyramid. BNI is an incredibly powerful tool to teach people how to use face to face communication. I think it;s time our chapter has a “little networker’s day”

  10. My daughter’s almost four, and thankfully she’s only just discovered how to switch the TV to the childrens’ channel. She sees her friends every day, and is learning how to share and be patient. Of course, she’ll soon learn how to use a computer, so I appreciate this encouragement to get her involved in the business of real-life relationship building at an early stage.

  11. What a great message and story. Despite the advances of technology and the ever increasing use of social media, nothing can replace face-to-face networking. It is important to teach our children the power of networking as children will find such skills invailuable throughoutt their life.

  12. Powerful story with a powerful message. Enjoyed it. Imagine a class on networking in elementary school–the impact would be phenomenal.

  13. Hi everyone, I belong to Tamworth Chapter, Staffordshire UK. I love this story but it didn’t really suprise me. She was a Brownie. Girlguiding in itself helps girls develop to reach their full potential and to take on board all the experiences life has to offer – Girlguiding is a newtork organisation in itself – trust me I’ve been involved in it for 40 years. But Guiding gave me the confidence to stand and deliver my 60 seconds and my 10 mins with confidence. Well done Alexandra a credit to both Girlguiding and BNI!

  14. I worry that kids of the future won’t need their voices. “I just want to talk to my friends” means “I’m going to tyoe out a message to someone” They don’t know how to fight face to face. 140 odd characters is a fantastic way to miscommunicate. When you fight over BBM (Blackberry messenger) you don’t see the hurt in the other person’s eyes and when there is no emotion, how do you patch up? I find that the ability to avoid face to face conflict has led children to a point where there is a very real danger of them not knowing how to communicate effectively at all with the result that those have that face to face skills, will rise to the top of the pyramid. BNI is an incredibly powerful tool to teach people how to use face to face communication. I think it;s time our chapter has a “little networker’s day”
    +1

  15. I can testify that my step-daughter did something similar to kick-off her baby sitting business. She networked at 2-3 school bus stops and before she was home – she was hired

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