Networking Across the Generational Gap

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From X TO Z: Networking Across the Generational Gap

March 5, 2021 7 min read

The opinions expressed by the entrepreneur’s contributors are their own.

My eldest daughter, one of the most beloved twin girls, is finishing her senior at Providence College and is filled with equal parts excitement and fear. You and I are shocked at how quickly the time has passed, but also at the pleasant situation in which our goals are perhaps aligned similarly for the first time. I’ve offered the kind of advice a parent gives – stay focused, streamline your resume, be hectic. I know my guide will be helpful (whether she wants it or not), but as she begins her career and I begin a new phase of myself, I am impressed with what we are learning from each other – especially about networking in the 21st century.

When my girls and my two younger sons were in middle school like many parents, I was irritated by the time and attention they devoted to their screens. Playing games, Snapchatting, making videos for YouTube – it seemed fun, but it sure didn’t look like it did when I was young. At the same time, I expanded my online network with colleagues and friends across the country and around the world. I realized that “face to face” wasn’t that necessary to be able to make connections. it was important to make them meaningful to both sides. My children successfully built friendships and exchanged experiences in their digital worlds, as real as everyone who built them in the backyard, and so did I.

The reason my company, Stellwagen Ventures, is in the industries it operates today – music, sports, investment, media, and entertainment – is because our network does too: my partner Matthew Baxter and I Both professional and personal experience have resulted in invaluable relationships in a variety of industries. For example, one of my first mentors, Adam Block, who I worked with at Sony Music in the early 1990s (before my daughters even had a proverbial wink), provided invaluable support and insight.

Maximizing a connection like Adam’s made strategic sense, but it also provided us with the invaluable advice and guidance we needed to get started with laser-like focus. After decades of building online and offline relationships, the value of our networks was by far our greatest asset, and indeed led to the early deals that fueled our growth and forged our company’s mission: creative collaboration for mutually beneficial Achieve success.

Related: What Is Effective Networking?

Talking to my daughter about her job search and thinking about my own networking strategies, some important ideas about our approaches stood out – and despite our generation gap, we both found that we have a lot to gain from each other’s perspective. When establishing or using the power of your own connections, consider the following network tips on the subject of “Gen X-meets-Gen Z”:

Maintain authenticity

My daughter and her friends can spot a “fake” just as easily as the best art dealers in the world: they know when every Photoshop and filter trick has been used to blur reality (and they rightly decipher the effect this has on growing Mind and body). . They prefer an authentic online presence and share with the same honest approach. Being “real” creates trust and promotes meaningful interaction that is far more beneficial. Authenticity is the key.

Related: Networking doesn’t have to be shoddy

Be brave

I’ve had thirty years to hone my own cold calling skills, so I understand it’s not easy. I’ve learned to look at it from the perspective of having nothing to lose: if the worst that can happen is a no-answer, then I’m right where I started. On the other hand, some of the greatest successes of my career, from my own experiences as a music journalist after college to joining Stellwagen Ventures, have come from cold contact with an acquaintance of a friend. Why wait for the phone to ring when you can pick it up and make the call yourself? Be brave.

Put the “work” in the network

Wiping through posts in blinding anger is like swimming in board shorts – it’s counterintuitive to say the least. I remind my daughter to give about an hour each day to expand her network and learn from it, with the thoughtful commitment she has put into so many other aspects of her life, from school to sports. It’s more than hitting the like button. Do your research, create precise introductory queries and approach the overall task with the necessary focus. The first job you’ll ever have is to get one.

Make it a one way street

Be of value to the members of your circle, stand out, and offer your advice and support whenever possible. For example, my daughter and her friends are in a unique position to provide valuable insight to potential students since the tours and visits have been paused. While she uses her alumni network to build connections, she in turn offers assistance to the admissions department or younger siblings of her colleagues who are starting college searches. By staying connected online, my daughter and her colleagues have been able to help and receive help from friends from all over the country and around the world. Take the time to be approachable and helpful.

Related: 6 Tips for Personal Networking During the Covid-19 Era

Dive deeper

My daughters can spend hours flipping through Tik Tok. Jumping into a rabbit hole isn’t always a negative thing: when an industry, or a thought leader, or a particular business trend or idea gets curious, take it! Ask questions of your network and expand anything that piques interest. When thinking about learning more or pursuing a question, follow your instincts to educate yourself and do it! Always be open and curious.

Listen on purpose

I tell my daughter that when she asks about an informative Zoom meeting, phone call, or F2F meeting for a reason, she shouldn’t worry: most people love to talk about what they do and how they do it. It depends on how we listen. Before a conversation, do your research, set your questions and goals, and train your ears to listen for the nuggets that can unlock your next steps or uncover a problem that only you can solve. A networking session is made most successful, not so much by what we say, but by what we carefully hear from others. Don’t underestimate the power of being a good listener.

As graduation approaches, my daughter approaches the next phase of her life with an engagement I am so proud of. The process is both stressful and challenging, especially in this current environment. The data shows that the next opportunity for them, and perhaps for all of us, comes from the networks we create, curate, and maintain. She is on the verge of creating hers as I realize why I’ve curated and maintained mine for the past 20 years.

A father can teach his children something, but only if he also learns from his children: We are better when we combine our generational experiences – a little Gen X and a little Gen Z create a solid new approach to networking. We both proceed with hopeful optimism, authenticity, hard work, and real goodwill in the digital spaces she grew up in and the ones I have happily adapted to.

Above all, we have one thing in common: We both know that the future is bright.