This article is from guest blogger and BNI Executive Director Dana Gallagher.
For the first time in American history, three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – all with different work ethics, values, beliefs and experiences are working side-by side. One generation stands out from the rest because they have become the largest generation in the workforce. Who are they? You guessed it… Millennials!
Let’s take a step back. What is a Millennial? This term refers to the generations born between 1982 and the early 2000’s. Born in the year 1990, I am proud to say that I, myself am a Millennial. In this article I will be focusing on how my generation does business, communicates, and networks.
Face-to-face networking will never go out of style. This leads me to a common misconception; that millennials would rather network with one another via social media than face-to-face. All of my experiences, and everyone I know, have shown this to be the exact opposite. If we had a choice of either type of networking the answer would be face-to-face every time, hands down. Human interaction is one of the most powerful ways to network and connect with others.
With that being said, getting out to networking events every night and seeing people isn’t always an option. Lucky for us, we have other means of building relationships when we are unable to meet face-to-face. So what are some of the other ways we network and how does our different generational attributes effect the way we communicate?
On a daily basis, I communicate with people approximately ten different ways. The most common ways are text messaging, group text messages, phone calls, e-mail, Facebook, Facebook group pages, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, FaceTime, and LinkedIn. Many other millennials use apps, like GroupMe, Voxer, Twitter, Skype, and Kik as a means to meet and connect with other people. Wait a minute, why do Millennials choose to use all these ways to communicate? Simply put, it’s quick, easy, and switching tasks helps hold our interest.
While referring to our communication style, informality is key. For the most part we find it completely acceptable to reach out to other business associates, bosses, and acquaintances via text, LinkedIn, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, or whatever else. As long as we get in touch with the person we need, why does it matter how we do so?
After meeting someone at a networking event, wedding, back yard barbecue, or any other get-together, we will most likely friend them on Facebook, add them on SnapChat, follow them on Instagram, connect with them on LinkedIn, or all of the above. By having so many resources to connect with each other we are able to build relationships faster (from the mass amounts of information online) and keep our relationships longer because of the ease of staying in touch. I may not see you for two years but I know you have become engaged, bought a house, went on vacation, and adopted a new dog, all because you friended me on Facebook. In short, it’s easier for millennials to establish long term relationships.
We are a generation that prefers to socialize and work in groups because we grew up in an environment that promoted constant team work. On a daily basis, our school teachers would have us work in groups to accomplish assignments. When everyone played their part, we learned that by working together we can achieve more, create a better result, and have fun! Our grade school teaching style fostered the belief that collaboration is the most effective way to get a job done.
One of the reasons that BNI is so great for millennials is that it accomplishes two things at once. We are able to socialize in a group setting while also building a network of people who can help accomplish one another’s goals by working together as a team. There is no better support system for a young entrepreneur or business professional than a group of entrepreneurs, professionals, and field experts that can share their best practices and learn together.
Our generation is pursuing careers for more than a paycheck and rejecting the old school mentality of the more you work, the more you’re worth. We believe that success is based on efficiency and results, rather than long hours and harder work. By completing our work quicker, we are able to get more accomplished throughout the day and fulfill our desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
The focus on a healthy work-life balance has caused a change in the beginning stages of networking. Rather than the typical conversation starter, “Tell me about your business,” you are more likely to hear millennials start a conversation off with, “What do you like to do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Why is that? Well, we’re pickier about the people with whom we do business. Millennials prefer to work alongside people whose values and interests align with their own.
Of course, it goes almost without saying that every person is an individual, so keep in mind that some of the characteristics we’ve discussed may not be applicable to every millennial. However, the information in this article refers to the millennial generation as a whole and the common trends that will help you to network and better communicate with them in professional circles.