Networking for millennials: how to meaningfully engage with others


Rule number one: treat everyone you meet with respect, whether they're in or out of your work space. 

So we know you're on a break and building your career is the last thing on your mind, but it's never too early to start and while you have the spare time, take the chance to meet people from different career backgrounds.

Even if you have no passion for a particular career field, for example, the business world, go out and speak to an accountant. Don't see yourself as an entrepreneur? That's okay, but go and spend a day at a start-up business.

Just make that connection and let it grow, says Sherjan Husainie of Leaders Global Network.

Here are four tips to get your networking groove on. with everyone – not just those whom you think are in a position to help you.

Read more: You need to stop being so loyal to your job – here’s why

1. You should ALWAYS be networking

Husainie says that a lot of people network only when they need to network, but he believes you should rather do so when you don't need to, for the simple reason that it comes across more natural.

"A lot of people network because they think if [they] network, they can get to this job. But you want to network so you can build a bond. You can build a bridge with this other person and that is going to help you one day or help them."

He also adds that one should network with everyone – not just those whom you think are in a position to help you.

Those that are above you in your career field might get you places, but "anyone and everyone has something you can learn from... and even the interns today could be the next CEOs in ten years," he says.

2. In a networking space? Get off your phone!

Lifestyle blogger Kaila Walker relevantly points out that the number one stigma for millennials is that they're always on their phones. Sound familiar? We're said to check our phones 150 times a day, engage with our phones more than we do with actual humans, and we go out less and are lonelier than GenX. Scary, but mostly true, according to several studies.

And when you've received the opportunity and you're in the moment, listening is key, says Walker. More than that, have an elevator pitch ready to showcase yourself and your interests, but don't forget to often draw attention to them and their occupation too.

Be prepared with an icebreaker, whether it be about current affairs or your favourite TV show...

That way, Walker says, you're eliminating another stigma: that millennials are self-absorbed and know-it-alls. So remember: listen way more than you talk.

3. Remember, it's not just about you

And that's okay. Drawing from the previous point, your ability to network effectively largely depends on your ability to make meaningful connections that will give off a lasting impression.

Don't be that person.

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It can be off-putting if you make the conversation all about you, so tread carefully by furthering the conversation and adding value to the person you're communicating with. Be fully present with the person you're talking to. 

And be proactive and initiate the first step. Also, don't stay with one person and focus on one conversation, especially if it's not a quality conversation. Let them go and ensure you move around to meet other people. As long as you come in with a curious mindset and enjoy the process, you're doing it right.

Read more: This is why your goals don’t have an expiry date

4. Be prepared

Perhaps a point that needs no mention, but sometimes it's essential you open the conversation with an icebreaker, whether it be about current affairs or your favourite TV show. You need something to lead the conversation especially if you're socially awkward and nervous.

You'll find the process to be more authentic if you simply keep the conversation as natural as possible by finding common ground where you can relate to the person on multiple personal levels.

5. "Networking isn't an 'event'...

... It's an ongoing, organic process of building relationships with people you actually like," says life coach and motivational speaker, Marie Forleo. 

According to Forleo, this should be a lifelong practice of meeting new people that you can contribute and add value to, and one of the ways she says you should do this is to only go to events that excite you, focus on giving more than getting and see it as a gradual, long-term process. 

And if you're a nervous wreck at networking, worry not – all it takes is practice. In the words of internet sensation and entrepreneur Tai Lopez, "You may fail in the beginning, but no one was born a natural networker: the more you train, the better you will become."

WATCH: Networking for introverts

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