Thursday, April 2, 2009

Networking - Gen X/Y style

I just got back from a new event in my town called "Business After 6." All the attendees were Gen Xers and Ys. Probably because the local business owner, Shawn MacDonald, who came up with the idea worked with his entrepreneurial friends and promoted it on Twitter and Facebook.
Shawn told me that he wanted something more relaxed. He also said he couldn't imagine going to a chamber event for young professionals that had assigned seating and taught business etiquette.

Most of the people I met where younger than me and owned their own businesses - fixing computers, doing embroidery on promotional items, leadership coaching. In fact, the leadership coach gave me and my husband some free coaching on the spot.

What struck me as interesting was thinking about older workers thinking business etiquette instruction was needed - while these younger workers are so good at networking. I think the networking skills come from less dichotomy in personalities. Your "professional self" and your "personal self" are products of the Industrial Age. Seriously, can you imagine a farmer in the Agrarian Age telling one of his hands to be "more professional"?

I think Xers and Ys are more likely to act the same way at work and at home. We call it "keeping it real." And that's why we're good at networking.

1 comment:

Dave Sohigian said...

I don't want this to sound like a slam against Millennials, but I think that one of the reasons they don't separate "professional" from "personal" is that they are a simpler bunch. Boomers and Gen X'ers both learned to compartmentalize those (and other) aspects of themselves because they often felt their personal and professional lives were at odds. When your personal values (free love, independent thought, time for introspection, etc...) conflict with the values of the "group" (meaning professional life) then compartmentalizing is a reasonable reaction.
I don't think that the Millennial generation will face nearly as much of this conflict of values as Silents, Boomers and Gen X'ers did. The world they will inherit (and rebuild) will likely be much more in their own image with more agreement about values. That will make it much easier to have a single face to put forward in all social interactions.