New age networking - how millennials build and sustain relationships
We live in a complex world dominated by new technologies; a multitude of social media platforms; fast emerging trends and technologies pivoted around the digital space, the environment, geography, culture, consumer trends, gender diversity, and different belief systems.
In Australia, this landscape is ever-changing, and is progressively being dominated by the younger (‘Millennial’) generation, who appears more capable and adaptable to survive in this tech-driven environment.
So how do the Millennials position themselves in this space amongst their peers and in the public, and how do they go about developing and sustaining their relationships to achieve their goals and objectives in life and at work ? How do they use technology as their key weapon to survival ?
We live in a complex world dominated by new technologies; a multitude of social media platforms; fast emerging trends and technologies
The Generation Gap:
There is a 20 year gap between the Millennials and Gen X, and an even bigger gap between Millennials and Baby Boomers. There is no surprise therefore why these generations carry different belief systems; have a very different communication style; and prefer to network in very different ways.
Whilst we closely examine these differences, we must also understand and contrast this against the older generation. By understanding this relationship, it will provide the business leader or manager a unique opportunity to capitalise on their worth within the workplace environment, to enable them to successfully integrate with their older peers.
To support my views on the Millennial generation and provide a further perspective on this new-age topic, I spoke to Omar de Silva (Director of Bachelor Programs at Ducere). Omar is a key pioneer in the development and launch of Ducere's bachelor programs geared towards young aspiring entrepreneurs. As a key person of influence in the education sector and to the younger generation, I was able to hear Omar's perspective on what drives this generation and how they prefer to integrate into society.
"It really boils down to the generalised personality traits of the individual, and the particular attitudes and skills they possess which need to be aligned with the company's culture and values."
(Omar de Silva - Director at Ducere)
I’m always intrigued and curious to observe how the younger generation go about engaging with other people on a day to day. Amongst their favourite choices include text messaging their best 'friend' whilst walking head-down to the tram stop; or watching a live footy game while viewing their friends' Facebook posts; as well as simultaneously checking out where the closest pub is located using their AroundMe app on their I-phone, so that they can catch up with their mates after the game.
When it comes to networking in their business environment, Omar believes that Millennials don't just go out to meet new prospects, but rather combine other 'fun' activities simultaneously using their smart phones to also achieve their immediate goals on a personal level. Essentially, new-age networking is all about having a 'social lens' put over traditional face-to-face networking. Millennials are driven by ease and focused on achieving their outcomes in the quickest and most efficient manner possible. The common denominator is the simplicity of the user experience. Millennials 'work to live, rather than live to work'.
New-age networking is all about having a 'social lens' put over traditional face-to-face networking. Millennials are driven by ease and focused on achieving their outcomes in the quickest and most efficient manner possible.
Are you Millennial Friendly ?
So how do you ‘be-friend’ a tech-savvy multi-tasking millennial and ensure you are accepted in their digital world ? Whether or not you are their manager, peer, or simply the person on the street that happens to need their help, you must understand the basic fundamentals of how they think ! Firstly, you must embrace and understand their abbreviated language made up of acronyms like ‘2F4U’ (too fast for you), or ‘IOW’ (in other words), etc. Secondly, do you support or endorse their favourite brand, product, technology or new-age belief ? Examples include the latest I-phone; the latest App to lose weight like LoseIt!; the latest TV platform like Netflix; or the latest fad or trend.
Millennials are also motivated by a diverse range of digital channels like online chat, social media and mobility, as compared to traditional TV advertising, telephone, or in-store counter interactions.
Nurturing the Millennial:
Millennials are not prepared to wait for their next annual performance review to receive a pay increase or promotion. Their expectation is that they should be incentivised now for their 'hard' work or ‘innovative’ idea. This fact often creates a problem for the Baby Boomer within the same workplace environment; by default the older generation is more accepting of the fact that reward comes from hard work, commitment, loyalty, patience, and earning the respect from their boss or older peers.
A solution to this problem could be to offer employees, regardless of their age, an opportunity to contribute their ideas for new product developments and receive a financial incentive for the successful launch into the marketplace. Another option may include public recognition from within the company for their ‘entrepreneurial’ efforts at large.
offer employees, regardless of their age, an opportunity to contribute their ideas for new product developments and receive a financial incentive for the successful launch into the marketplace.
Regardless of the generation, mutual trust and respect must be core of any relationship. So if a Millennial employee chooses to spend 1-hour each day on their Facebook page to chat with their 'friends' or colleagues, and this produces a fruitful outcome for the organisation and a sense of worth or wellbeing for the individual, then this option must be officially endorsed and widely accepted by management. In reverse, if management decides to limit this resource for whatever reason, then the employee must respect the traditional habits and values of the company. Essentially, trust must be earned through honesty, integrity, transparency, and aligned values between management and staff.
Networking & Social Cause:
Offer employees a chance to network outside of their traditional environment, by utilising available platforms like Meetup.com, Google Hangouts, Ask.fm, etc. This will vastly extend their available networks and resources, enabling them to engage in open discussions, express their opinions, and learn about the greater world, in connection with their role or profession at work.
This form of networking is guaranteed to appeal to the younger generation, and avoid them feeling trapped or locked in an old-school workplace environment. Millennials need an outlet to express their opinions and views towards social matters relating to the environment, gender diversity, culture, trends, etc.
The Perfect Mix
There is no silver bullet for successfully managing and nurturing the Millennial generation. Nor is there a perfect balance between the new-age or veteran employee when building your team in the workplace. 'It really boils down to the generalised personality traits of the individual, and the particular attitudes and skills they possess which need to be aligned with the company's culture and values', says Omar. Each individual is unique and will require a different management approach. It's also about finding people with an 'intrapreneurial' mindset, and knowing how to nurture such people to keep them enthused and committed to their jobs art work.
This article has been exclusively written by Federico Re for 'CEO Magazine' for the January, 2016 print edition.