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NETWORKING / SEP. 23, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How To Use Generational Diversity To Your Networking Advantage

Networking is something that happens right from childbirth - way before we even realize its formal aspects from a general perspective. And so prior to acclimatising to technologically advanced networking, we had a network of people on the ground that we would interact with. First off, we were guided by our primal instincts as toddlers, then it was the incubation in educational institutions before our current exposure to the real world. Of course, back then, we didn’t have as much technology as we do right now. But still there was an advantage considering the fact that we were...

Less Superficial with Each Other
To be honest, technology has more or less brought about this sense of effortless dishonesty in networking. I don’t know, maybe it’s the convenience of lying while keeping your distance. Or it might as well be that we’ve lied to each other so much that executing consequences of dishonesty would more or less prove to be quite uneconomical to say the least. So having realized that, we’ve become accustomed to the norm of dishonesty. Sometimes it’s someone sparing us from some harsh truth or maybe it’s a well guarded secret being protected by any dishonest means necessary. However, despite all the dishonesty flying around, technology has actually served to...

Bridge Generational Gaps in Networking
Sometimes I find it quite hard to interact with some of my age mates. Not that I hold some misplaced resentment towards them, it’s just that levels of maturity tend to differ despite correlation in age.

Like there was his one time I was invited to join a youth group in my home church upcountry. I wouldn’t relate with them because, in my early twenties, I would want to talk about career goals and ambition. But these guys were actually talking about settling down and starting a family. Plus, they were so traditional and conservative that they made me feel like my potential was being held back.

And so I turned to social media which is quite amazing because I found 40 yr olds acting more young and vibrant (in a good way) than some of my twenty year old counterparts. I also found folks that humbled me with their wealth of experience despite their younger age.

How then does one use Generational Diversity to their Networking Advantage?
I know you must be wondering by now where I’ve given little focus to networking on the ground. But that’s understandable considering the fact that everyone’s busy these days and so social media has for a while now proven to be quite an effective and convenient mechanism in networking even during the most impossible of times.

I mean, you can tweet your mentor while they’re engaged in a serious meeting or something like that. Plus, our ancestors dreamed of this day when a message would be instantaneously delivered half across the world. So you can imagine the potential and added advantage of networking in generational diversity. But how does one fully exploit this?

#1 Relate and Reflect on Shared Experiences to Bridge the Maturity gap
In African Lore, grandparents and grand kids used to form very close ties. This was largely attributed to night stories narrated over a burning fire under a hat. The grand kids would listen intently to the stories of their grandparents because their tailor-made to catch their ears, and keep the narrator engaged as well. Same case applies to generational diversity in networking. It’s not about you or the other party. It’s about finding an amicable solution towards bridging the maturity gap to make the interaction more engaging and interactive. Otherwise, failing to do this will lead to one party speaking while the younger party simply nods it’s head just for courtesy’s sake.

#2 Observe Respectful Restraint While Building a Trustful Sense of Fondness
Friendship is such a wonderful thing. It’s all about sharing the best of times as well as being honest with the worst of times. However, when it comes to relating with someone of a different age group, we will either wear a brave mask of maturity or act vulnerable and innocent depending on how old or young the other engaging party is. But at times, there are exceptions especially when you’re really honest with someone who’s of a different age group. That’s because you’ve become fond of each other and at the same time, there are some subliminal boundaries that have been comfortably established and accepted without necessarily having to state any formal ground rules.

#3 Keep an Open and Flexible Mind that’s willing to Learn from Divergent Views and Respectful Opinions 
Most of us have been exercising these unnecessary restraints founded by the conservative and misplaced beliefs of our backgrounds. For instance, when you look at religion, this is a powerful force that has shaped societies for millennia. And when a belief has strength in numbers, many won’t dare to question it despite obviously gaping loopholes. This limited mindset is likely to choke networking in generational diversity particularly if both of you hold onto strong divergent beliefs and opinions brought about by age difference. But if only you learn to sieve out what’s necessary and adapt it, then you’ll both mutually benefit and have a healthy networking relationship despite opposing views and opinions.

It really baffles me how some of us simply do this sort of PR interaction with people of different age groups. And while we tend to demean younger folk, we also perceive older folk as outdated. Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to insist that you SHOULD exercise generational diversity in networking. Far from the contrary, I’m showing you the immense potential of doing so. In any case, Virgil Garnett Thomson once said, "Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not."

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