Cross Generational Networking – We Can Learn From Each Other

Networking has been and will continue to be a critical component to business and social communications. Certainly we have all relied on networking at some point in our career. What’s interesting is how networking has changed and evolved with each generation.

Today, four generations of employees co-exist in the workplace. Their communication styles are all different and the way they utilize networks vary. Regardless of these differences, there is much to be learned and shared across generations around networking and relationship building.

The Four Generations

Traditionalist (currently age 62 and above) prefer a more formal networking structure. They tend to build their network through existing business and personal relationships. They make introductions through others with whom they have established respect and trust. They prefer to network and communicate face-to-face. Traditionalists pride themselves on customer focus, dedication and loyalty. By achieving this, they are able to form long-standing relationships. They are also philanthropic and expand their network through participation in various voluntary capacities such as: religious affiliations, country clubs, non-profit organizations, etc. Traditionalist network mostly with those in their own generation or the generation below them. It’s rare that they network with Gen X or Gen Y unless it is required for business purposes.
My father, a traditionalist who still works full-time, is someone that knows a lot about networking and relationship building. In fact, we joke within our family that he can go nowhere – including on vacation outside of the country – without running into someone he knows. When I asked him what we can learn from his generation about networking he said the following, “focus on customer service, be active in business and social organizations, give back, take leadership roles and don’t ever be afraid to ask for a referral.”

Baby Boomers (currently ages 43-61) are very relationship-oriented individuals. They utilize business and social networks for many reasons including the opportunity to meet and mentor others. This generation has seen the power of networking through cultural change that they were able to drive during their lifetime. For example, the civil rights movement. In business, Baby Boomers are team oriented and use networks to establish and further relationships. At times, their emphasis on relationship building can cause frustration with the younger generations who feel that Baby Boomers take too long to make decisions due to involving many in the process.

Generation X (currently ages 27-42) use of networks is more inwardly focused. This generation is more likely to utilize networks for business opportunity and personal growth rather than socializing. That’s not to say that all Gen Xers are self-centered or anti-social but research has shown that they have a smaller, tighter group of friends and networks. They focus more on internal networking, for example, within the company they are working, then external networking. They also favor more on-line networking resources.

A Gen Xer myself, I spent over 17 years working in large, global corporations. While employed within those organizations, my internal network was large and strong. It wasn’t until I started my own business a few years ago that I realized my external network was lacking. It’s taken time, energy and getting out of my comfort zone to build my network. Now, I am amazed in a relatively short period of time at the relationships I have established and the networking skills I have developed. There’s no question in my mind that building a broad network is essential. Especially, in these economic times, ones network can play a key role in employment and business opportunities.

Generation Y (currently ages 7-26) have embraced the concept of networking early on. Their use of networks starts for social purposes at an early age with the use of on-line resources such as My Space and Facebook. They are the first generation that will be able to maintain and keep a relationship network through the internet from the time they are young through their adult years. By their teen years, they literally have hundreds of cyber “friends” that they communicate with on a regular basis. They have also been engaged in other forms of networking through extracurricular activities and volunteer opportunities. They really have brought a whole new light to networking and will continue to shape it well into the future. Gen Y has no problem including all generations in their network and can see the value from a diversity perspective.

Networking Tips to Share Across the Generations

The bottom line is that each generation networks in different ways, and for different reasons, but all four generations understand its importance and value. Following are some key networking tips that are beneficial across generations:

· Leverage existing relationships to build your network – you will probably be surprised by how many people you know when you really think about it. Start by making a simple list and build from there. Never underestimate the power of a relationship even if it’s one that was formed just moments ago.

· Be willing to experience new ways of networking – there are many, many ways to network that don’t always involve meeting face-to-face. Regardless of your age, try something new. If you typically use on-line networking resources, expand your horizons by attending a few networking events in person. If you’re more of a face-to-face networker, join an on-line network.

· Get involved in a variety of networks – there are literally thousands of different networks available for both social and business purposes. Do your research and talk to others to determine which ones most closely align with your needs and expectations. Once you find a few organizations you enjoy, make an effort to utilize them regularly.

· Practice active listening – remember it’s not all about you. Networking is a give-and-take relationship and one that requires strong listening skills. As you form relationships, make sure that you are really listening for not only what it can offer you but what you can offer to it.

Kim Huggins is the President of K HR Solutions, LLC based in Harleysville, PA. Her company offers services in the areas of organizational effectiveness, leadership development and team dynamics. Kim is a nationally recognized trainer and speaker on the topic of Generational Differences.

Author: Kim Huggins
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The Power of Networking – How Effective Are You?

Let’s face it, you are not necessarily going to find your next job via a headhunter or in the newspaper (though I am not saying that it never happens this way, it is just more difficult to do so). The best jobs are often not advertised. Most likely, you are going to find your next opportunity via a network you have created – a network of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances – who have access to companies and know about opportunities that you couldn’t find out about any other way. Or, if you did find out about an opportunity through a newspaper want ad – you likely have a better chance of getting noticed among the many resumes received when you are introduced through a network connection. However, networks can help in ways other than helping you find a new job. Your network can be a sounding board to help you solve a particularly difficult problem. They can help you further develop an idea or concept you have and can assist you in understanding market trends and help keep you updated on current business topics.

(Social) Networking Tools and Groups

There are some great tools available for social networking. One popular tool is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to keep in touch with individuals you have worked with before or know from college. It is also a valuable method for sharing your expertise and knowledge in discussion groups and/or responding to questions from others on LinkedIn (“Answers”). LinkedIn enables you to expand your network and meet others by asking for introductions from your current connections to others to which they are connected.

Twitter is another tool for networking. Through Twitter you can share information with others and learn from them. With Twitter you don’t need to have a prior relationship or know someone in order to follow them. This enables you to reach individuals you may not otherwise ever have the opportunity to reach. Specific topics of interest on Twitter, such as #projectmanager or #leadership, enable you to connect globally with others who share your specific interests.

There are other groups you can likely find to participate in with like-minded people. For example, I belong to the Employee Engagement Network. This is a global group of individuals who are interested in and involved in employee engagement. Another group I belong to is Business Exchange. BusinessWeek’s Business Exchange allows users to create business-focused topics and share information with other business-focused users who are interested in the same topics.

I’m sure you know of other networking tools and/or groups that you have found of value – please share in the Comments field below.

Networking Events and Conferences

Attending networking events is another way to meet others. You can find professional networking events in nearly every city. These events are sometimes focused on a specific topic or group such as for marketing specialists or individuals who are unemployed and job searching. In addition, conferences offer the opportunity for building your network also. For example, PMI Global Congress is a great conference to attend to network with other project managers and increase your skills and knowledge around project management-focused topics. Most conferences provide networking sessions during lunch or in the evenings – another great way to meet others, make connections and share information!

Networking isn’t Easy! It’s Work!

Networking does not come easy to many people – you have to work at it. You can’t just expect someone who you met once to recommend you for an opportunity or to share information with you unless you work on maintaining and building the relationship with that person. The ability to nurture relationships is a key component of building and maintaining an effective network. Also key is remembering that networking is bi-directional. Your network is just not a group of people who are there to help you find your next opportunity or introduce you to someone who may have a job for you. Basically, they are not there only for when you need them. These are individuals you need to be actively interested in and involved with – people you want to keep in touch with and share information with. You need to devote time to your network on a regular basis. Bottom line – don’t just contact your network when you are in desperate need for help. Keep in touch with them regularly and be interested in what they have going on themselves – not just what they can do for you.

For example, let’s assume that someone in your network is interested in coaching others. Maybe you just came across an article on the benefits of hiring coaches. Why not share this article with that individual? Include a short note that the individual may find the attached article of interest. Ask them how they are doing in finding coaching opportunities. Maybe someone else in your network is already a coach – connect these two individuals. They have a lot in common! Or maybe someone in your network just moved to a new position in their company or took a new job – send them a note to congratulate them on their new opportunity. I regularly share white papers, articles, and interesting books I have read with my network.

Broaden your network. Don’t just network with others in your specific industry. Networking outside your specific job function or your specific industry is a more creative approach and helps you to gain a broader perspective on the opportunities available and on business in general. What you learn from others in your network can help you grow professionally and personally.

Ask for help in building your network. Your network members can introduce you to others. For example, if you are interested in understanding more about the manufacturing industry, ask individuals in your current network if they have any connections in that specific industry. Ask them to make an introduction for you. Similarly, if someone in your network mentions that they are interested in a specific industry or company, and you have a contact in that area – offer to make an introduction. By sharing your resources, you become a valuable partner in the network and help you broaden your network.

What are your networking stories – the good, the bad and the ugly?

What has worked for you?

How has a network helped you develop professionally?
Resources – Harvard Business Review Articles on Networking

The following can be found online at:

Harvard Business Review, 2008: Start Networking Right Away (Even If You Hate It)

Harvard Business Review, 2006: How Leaders Create and Use Networks

Harvard Business Review, 2005: How To Build Your Network

Gina Abudi has over 15 years consulting experience in a variety of areas, including project management, process management, leadership development, succession planning, high potential programs, talent optimization and development of strategic learning and development programs. She is the president at Abudi Consulting Group, LLC ( ) in Amherst, NH. Gina blogs at

She has been honored by PMI as one of the Power 50 and has served as Chair of PMIs Global Corporate Council Leadership Team. Gina is currently President-Elect of PMI Massachusetts Bay Chapter Board of Directors. She has presented at various conferences on topics ranging from general management and leadership topics to project management. Gina received her MBA from Simmons Graduate School of Management.

Copyright 2009 – 2011 Gina Abudi – All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

Author: Gina Abudi
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How to be Really Successful at Networking

Networking and work-of-mouth marketing has become an essential business skill. We tend to intuitively realize this. However, how well do we do it? Do we set goals and objectives like we do for other business projects and marketing initiatives? When I speak with other business professionals I find that most fully realize the value and power of networking but that they often have a hap hazard approach to networking. Here are some thoughts and advice on how to be spectacularly effective as a networking professional.

Image that you are getting spectacular networking results.

What would that mean? What goals would you have achieved? Who would you be networking with? What problems would these spectacular networking results be solving? These are important questions and your networking activity should be based on the answers to these questions.

Have you ever gone to a networking event and mingled around a bit, talked to a few people and then left? These results were certainly less than spectacular. Have you left without any appointments? Have you left after getting only a few business cards from people to follow up with or perhaps even none? Have you left without even the thought of following up with anyone? If so then you have wasted your time attending the event.

I suggest an approach at a networking event that is virtually guaranteed to boost up your networking to the spectacular level.

Here is what I suggest:

Don’t even think about trying to sell at a networking event. Focus on building your network. Focus on helping others to build their network or to help others reach people that could use their product or service. In short, help others. If you try to sell at the event then you a playing a hit or miss game. If people do not need or want what you are selling you have no chance to make a sale and if you continue to try then you will only turn people off and they will close up to you. This is the last thing you want to have happen. It is a rare networking event that gives to the opportunity to sell and I hope that this is not news to you.

Imagine changing your thoughts about networking into ones of building your network rather than ones where you try to make a sale. What would happen if you changed your approach in networking from “selling”, to getting to know as many people as possible, and then getting them to introduce you to someone who can use your product?

People usually respond well to anyone who will help them achieve what they want. So, shouldn’t you be trying to find out how you can help as many people as possible? Become their referral source. If you help them they will respond in kind by helping you reach more people. Learn how to help the people you meet.

Once you have replaced the “selling” attitude with the “helping” attitude. You are ready to move onto the next phase. This is where things can really get interesting. Now it is time to focus on networking with right people. For spectacular results you need to be networking with the right people.

What are the characteristics of the right people – the right people for you?

o Network with people that think like you do. They are not there to sell but rather to help others and to expand their network.

o Network with people that are good at helping others.

o Network with people that know the people you want to do business with.

o Get together with people that know lots of other people. For example business leaders usually know lots of other people and they know other business leaders.

Where do you find these people?

o Choose events where networking is not only expected but encouraged.

o Join a networking group. One such group is BNI. BNI is a formalized networking organization and the focus is to not sell to the group but rather to increase a member’s network and to generate sales outside of the group.

o Attend networking events where everyone is not trying to sell to everyone else.

o At an event observe people that appear to know many other people. These people have dedicated significant time to building their network. They can be extremely helpful once you get to know them.

o If an event has a host or people to help with introductions then ask to be introduced to the people you want to meet. Remember that you want to meet people that can help you build your network. You want to meet with people that you can help by expanding their network.

o Always be on the lookout for “Power Networkers”. Power Networkers are the people with all the right characteristics.

How do you meet these people?

o Building a network is the same as building a relationship. Always keep this in mind.

o Ask to be introduced and then make a genuine effort to learn about the other person. If you cannot be introduced then introduce yourself. Always be genuine and learn about the other person.

o Make arrangements to meet again to find out how you can help that person with network building. As long as you remain on target about helping the other person you soon enough will be asked how you can be helped with referrals for business or to expand your network. This activity powers up this relationship and it benefits both parties.

o Set goals for a networking event. For example, have a goal to meet 10 people and come away with two follow-up lunches or two follow-up meetings.

o Do not be too quick to offer referrals. Protect your contacts and only refer when you know more about the people you have just met. This is why a follow up meeting is so important. Show an interest in learning more about the other person, the products and services and their ideal clients.

o Offer to meet on a specific problem they may have mentioned to you. Again, if you approach this with the intent to help the post-event meetings will be easier to arrange.

Some Ideas on How to Maintain Your Network

Set up a way to stay in touch.

o Use e-mail to send ideas and additional networking thoughts and tips.

o If you publish a newsletter then put your new contacts on your distribution list after asking their permission.

o Once you get to know them better send a note or card on their birthday. Birthdays are often ignored and you can stand out by being the one that has remembered. Also note that people are flooded with Christmas and Holiday cards. It is harder to stand out from the rest by sending a card during the holidays.

o If you find an interesting article cut it out and send it with a short note. This simple act goes a long way.

o For people that you want to get to know better invite them out to lunch.

o Invite them to networking events and ask them to invite you to networking events. At these events help them with introductions and they will help you when you go to their events.

Final Comments

Business building activities take time and attention. Building relationships does not happen over night and with no activity. You get from a relationship what you put into it. What levels do you need to achieve? My studies indicate that in order to have a nice network operating for you that you will need somewhere between 80 and 120 people that you maintain regular contact with. At this level this channel will be a major part of your marketing. You will be able to count on it for significant business.

The bigger your network the more it will perform for you and if you will be able to maintain proper contact with 300 or 400 people then I suggest that your will not have to do any other marketing as your network will be big enough to provide you will all the business you can handle.

So stop selling at networking events, and start building your network. Go to networking events most conducive to network building (rather than selling events).

Set specific goals for networking events relative to people to meet, types of people to meet and follow-up meetings made.

Gary Horsman is President of WSI Global Reach which is an Internet Marketing company located in Woodstock, Vermont. He is a member of BNI an international networking organization – and has contributed to his BNI Chapter as Vice President, Educational Coordinator and is currently the Chapter Mentor and a Visitor Host. He also serves as an Ambassador for BNI New Hampshire. Ambassadors help BNI Chapters to achieve their objectives. He firmly believes in helping other achieve their goals.

Author: Gary Horsman
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Networking Connections 101

5 Picnic Rules

 “Remember me from the picnic?” Summer picnic season provides you with an opportunity to relax, reconnect, and relish good friends and neighbors. It can also provide you with an opportunity to make good connections. Here are five general rules about networking in social conversations:

 1. Talk to anyone; maybe not everyone – Don’t waste the entire event trying to figure out a way to talk to the most popular person at the party. In your strategizing, you might miss making a connection to someone else. That person you’ve never met might be your next best big lead! And even if you don’t get to talk to everyone, having a few really good conversations may provide better results than meeting everyone in a “bums-rush” way.

 2. Be approachable – Eye contact is key. Watch that fine line between making good eye contact and not staring someone down. Open body language and a nice smile can help.

 3. Listen attentively – You’re at a social event, so your business agenda should be placed squarely and firmly on the back burner. Listen for content and make mental notes of the names of family members, other friends you have in common, their hobbies and interests. Making connections socially can play into your business life, but let it happen organically.

4. Know when enough is enough – If you’ve run out your repertoire with someone and want to move on, know how to excuse yourself gracefully. Offer to get another round of beverages. If they decline, you’re free to move on alone. If they accept, strike up another conversation with someone else on your way back to them. Then invite them into your new conversation.

 5. Follow up is key – To capitalize on a true connection, be sure your last words are an invitation to meet again. Even if you kept your interaction strictly social, gain a verbal commitment to get together again socially. The business talk can expand as your relationship does. 

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