We all know how vital networking is. Whether you are looking to advance your career, gain perspective, or increase your circle, the benefits are truly endless. As we grow deeper and deeper into a digital bubble it seems millennials are increasingly growing more afraid to network in-person. Why is that? We are absolute pros at networking online, storming up a conversation on any blog or comment section, and even love to engage via social media through comments, likes, IG stories, and more. However, the moment that the screen disappears and we are forced to participate in any offline rendezvous our flight or fight senses alert us to immediately run and hide. According to Forbes, “39% of Millennials admit to interacting more with their phones than the actual people in their lives.” Case in point, we’ve become digitally dependent.
As a communications and PR professional, we are encouraged to step out of our comfort zone and engage in real life. Why? Because this builds a more dynamic relationship; one with a foundation of trust and confidence which cannot be translated through a screen. There is something inexplicable that happens when you can interact with people through eye contact, a sense of humor and shared energy; ultimately, you WILL be remembered. That being said, putting yourself out there can be nerve-wracking. What if you say the wrong thing or are perceived in the wrong way? The key to conquering the fear of “IRL” interaction is pure confidence and purposefully working towards growing that confidence on a daily basis. Take a look at the world’s most admired leaders, (i.e Oprah and Barack Obama), the common denominator in their reputable and endearing presence is the confidence they manifest when speaking to a large crowd. Now note, this special skill was not obtained overnight. A starting point to grow your confidence with interpersonal skills starts at mastering the art of small talk through networking in real life. Through this, you can begin to gain a sense and development of your own speaking skills and body language. You can begin to emulate and observe how mentors who grew up in an unapologetic anti-digital era are able to start a conversation and build a legitimate relationship. One can then take the mental notes and observations made to work at progressing at home and in other conversations to build a network of connections that will be more vital than a LinkedIn connection.
Millennials are already a step ahead in the work field with building a brand for themselves online so why not stand out in-person too? One study states that networking is vital to the success of 78% of startups. The bottom line is interpersonal interaction is not a depleting phenomenon. Us millennials need to work on changing the status quo as we will soon become the leaders in the work field. Communication is key in any given situation; if we can’t communicate amongst each other how will we ever grow?