Gen Z is coming-of-age. They’re entering the workforce en masse and bringing with them new approaches, new priorities, and new attitudes towards their careers and what it means to network.
Networking, traditionally, was something done by buttoned-up professionals saying things “my people call your people,” and the like. More recently, it became all about your online presence. The value of your network, then, became synonymous with your number of followers on LinkedIn, Instagram, facebook, and Tik Tok.
Experts agree, both networking methods (i.e. fully offline and fully online) are now either extinct or, at the very least, obsolete.
2023 is a new era - and the name of the game is hybrid networking.
The emergence of hybrid networking, and Gen Z’s preference for it, reveals that things have come full-circle. The jury is out, and it’s finally clear that online and offline are salt-and-pepper: They play better together.
But what does this mean? What are the implications of hybrid networking? And how can Gen Zers succeed in this new environment.
Networking in 2023
First, a quick definition: Gen Zers, for our purposes, are people born on or around 2000. So as far as career paths these are young people either entering the workforce for the first time, or they’re very early professionals…Okay, back to networking tips.
It’s all about quality
Quality professional connections are more important than quantity for a few reasons. First, it is typically more beneficial to have a few strong relationships with people who are knowledgeable, trustworthy, and have a strong network of connections themselves, rather than a large number of weak or casual relationships. These strong connections can provide valuable advice, support, and opportunities over time.
Additionally, it can be more time-consuming and difficult to maintain a large number of professional connections, especially if they are not particularly meaningful or relevant to your goals. It is often better to focus on building and nurturing a smaller number of high-quality connections, rather than trying to maintain a large network of superficial contacts.
Overall, having a few strong professional connections can be more beneficial in the long run, as they can help you grow and advance in your career, while also providing valuable support and guidance along the way.
Leave something to be learned
Whether a part of Gen Z or not, "less is more" is an important rule for professional communication because it helps ensure that your message is clear, concise, and easy to understand. In today's fast-paced business world, people often have limited time and attention, so it is important to be able to convey your message effectively and efficiently.
But this is also an important note related to hybrid networking. Say LESS online, and rely on speaking for yourself MORE in-person. In other words, if someone wants to connecting with you (and they live in the same city, etc) tell them a bit about yourself, a bit about what you do, and then (if you’re comfortable) jump to meeting up with them in-person. Suggest a simple coffee shop meet-up. The nice thing about in-person interactions is that it’s much, MUCH more clear when you’re saying too much. Just pay attention to your listener. If they start looking bored, or agitated, or whatever, slow down, finish your point, and that’s that. Alternatively, if you’re being interrupted and stopped short, this is a whole different story and can tell you either something about the person you’re interacting with or, possibly, about yourself (a difference only determinable by one's own self).
But note also that you shouldn't think of in-person meetings as merely an effective way to bowl someone over with your wonderful personality. Go into in-person meetings with in the intention of exploring the reality of working with someone. See how they make you feel and how you make them feel. Go in with good intentions, send out good vibes, and you'll know.
On the flip side, if you’re on the job hunt and a recruiter offers the chance to meet them in-person. You should jump at it! Even IF this reflexively makes you nervous since you may not be used to such in-person professional interactions. It’s FINE, if you’re nervous - but it’s still something you should do. At the very least you’ll learn something about yourself.
Yes, you can use social media
Of course, yes you can use social media to help you network and land jobs. You can also build your own personal website, which often shows a lot of initiative and impresses perspective employers. Either way, use your online presence to:
- Connect with people in your industry: Many professionals use social media to connect with others in their field. You can use social media to find and connect with people who work in your industry or have similar professional interests.
- Share your work and ideas: Social media is a great platform for sharing your work and ideas with a wider audience. By sharing your work and insights on social media, you can demonstrate your expertise and build your professional reputation.
- Join industry-specific groups or forums: Many social media platforms have groups or forums specifically for people in certain industries. These groups can be a great way to connect with others in your field, ask questions, and share ideas.
- Participate in online events or conferences: Many conferences and events are now being held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Participating in these events can be a great way to meet and connect with other professionals in your industry.
Go to in-person networking events (actually do it)
There’s no substitute for in-person networking events. There are plenty of these types of events that are actually fun and interesting, not just ego-fests. Look up something local, or something based around a topic that you find interesting and then GO. Don’t overthink it, just set the intention that you’re exploring and trying something new. Do your best to bring a good attitude and be kind to the people you meet and you simply never know what positive things can result.
As for landing jobs, in-person events are key to hybrid networking:
- They provide an opportunity to meet and connect with people in your industry face-to-face. This can be especially valuable if you are looking for a job or are trying to build your professional network.
- In-person events often have a mix of people from different companies, industries, and levels of experience. This can provide a diverse group of potential contacts and opportunities.
- Attending in-person events can help you build your confidence and communication skills. Meeting new people and engaging in conversations about your career can help you become more comfortable networking and talking about yourself.
- In-person events often have a more relaxed and social atmosphere than “conferences” or formal interviews, which can make it easier to build rapport and make lasting connections.
This isn’t a cliché. It’s a deep truth. Recruiters and executives have seen a million people try to be someone they’re not. There is simply no point in trying to carbon copy what you think someone wants you to be. Instead, do your best to present yourself in an honest and authentic way when you’re meeting someone, and when you’re in private, do your best to build yourself into the greatest version of yourself. And the best way to practice authenticity? Simple, yet not always easy: You genuinely try for your best, and to try your best to do right.
Good luck Gen Zers - your future is bright! and Popl is here to help…P.S. Check out our digital business cards, they're great for networking (both online and offline), as well as for quick contact exchange at in-person events, and many other things.
Want more networking tips?
- Best professional icebreakers | 10 great networking openers
- In-person networking tips for 2023
- 5 key networking trends for 2023 | Networking guide