Networking Beyond Your Generation

 In Entrepreneurship Skills

Entrepreneurs know the value of networking. It is a continual source of leads, industry contacts, important news, useful information, and potential opportunities. That said, it isn’t an easy skill to master for most of us. Even a born extrovert who loves to meet new people can feel awkward in some networking environments.

This feeling can be intensified if you interact with people outside your peer group. People of other generations might seem harder to connect with. As the sole Millennial in a crowded room full of chatting, laughing Gen X or Boomer professionals, you might hesitate to reach out. They have so much in common; what can you add to the conversation? On the other hand, you may feel like you’re on a new path that they would find it hard to understand or appreciate. The same can be true for nontraditional college students who suddenly find themselves mixed in among people much younger than they are.

If you’re planning for a successful career as an entrepreneur, you need to overcome that reluctance. Networking beyond your generation offers significant benefits for anyone, regardless of which generation they were born into.


Key Benefits of Networking Beyond Your Generation

Finding a Mentor

You are doubtless already aware of the value a good mentor can bring to your career. This is true in all fields, not just for entrepreneurs. A mentor can offer advice born of experience in the field, refer you to the right people, or just generally “show you the ropes.” Some people connect with their mentors while in school, while others find them later. Networking is a great opportunity for starting a connection that will lead to mentorship. The people capable of mentoring are often going to be outside your generation, so don’t cut yourself off from connecting with them.

This doesn’t only apply to younger entrepreneurs. Some of those just starting out are actually members of those older generations. They may have left an established career to pursue entrepreneurship. If you’re in that group, don’t shut the door on meeting a more experienced, younger person who’s willing to network with you.


Words of Wisdom

Something all entrepreneurs can benefit from is great advice from someone more experienced. Be open to hearing great advice regardless of what else you may or may not have in common with that person. This isn’t dating–you don’t have to make a perfect match. You just have to connect with others for mutual career benefit. When you make that connection with someone outside your generation, you open the door to advice you otherwise wouldn’t have access to.


It Opens Your Mind

We all have a tendency to get stuck in our own ruts. When you’re surrounded by people who think the same way you do this can intensify. Making a connection to someone in a different age group can be a very eye-opening experience. Their different slant on things can help you see your own ideas and strategies in a refreshing new light. New viewpoints lead to fresh ideas and reinvigorated motivation.


It Widens Your Pool of Contacts

You may be thriving by working with those in your generation. Maybe you’ve started your business with friends from school. Just don’t miss one of the biggest advantages of networking beyond your generation–meeting people across your industry who can be advantageous to know. Openness to connecting outside your generation means you will build up a truly useful collection of contacts of people in many fields, with many levels of experience. 


Making the effort to regularly network will pay off. Furthermore, making the bigger effort to network beyond your generation will benefit you and your career even more.


PHOTO: Open Data Institute / CC-SA 2.0

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