Hello, Michael Parker here. I am the founder of Forge Online Personal Training, a national fitness & nutrition coaching company. I am also a member of the Ignite Young Processional group in greater Roseville California. Before the creation of Forge, I spent a career as a fitness professional working with young professionals and have noticed some interesting developments about this group we call Millennials.
We all know that the younger professionals have an over-dependence on technology and are in fact, the catalyst consumer that embraced social media and have fundamentally redefined social connection and networking in general. While virtual environments like Facebook, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter or other media platform provide significant value, there is a kinesthetic aspect that is missing. It seems to me, that young professionals in certain industries have recognized this and are looking for ways to satisfy the absence of relationships.
However, young professionals are resistant to traditional formal networking groups and even some aspects of chambers of commerce. I think this is related to several factors but mostly the formality, expense and structure of their parents networking groups are a total turn off for them. This is why organizations like the Roseville Area Chamber of Commerce are ahead of the evolution in networking.
So along comes Ignite Young Professionals group, which is a great example of how younger pros tend to structure their networking. Formally informal, collaborative and interesting. But here are the top 5 reasons a young professional should get involved with groups like Ignite and why seasoned professionals should support a shift in networking formats:
It’s not that younger professionals do not see the value in networking, they simply have a different viewpoint on what is valuable to them. In essence, they may be the most social generation in history when you consider the scope and borderless terms of modern social media. Aside from the overly formal structure of some long standing “networking” groups young professionals are usually repelled by the aggressive networker. Typically, network groups have by-laws, attendance quotas, referral expectations and time demands. The networking scene that attracts the younger group are less about getting your business card into every attendee’s hands and more about relationships. The young professional approach is taking hold in many groups and thankfully evolving the networking paradigm.
data is now a staple of our society and again, this is because of the mass consumption and instant availability of information and the speed in which it can be accessed. Yet young professionals are seeking learning opportunities beyond the search engine. There is something irreplaceable about direct sharing and having the ability to share across industries, professions and workplaces is appealing. The modern young professional understands actually knowing a person with expertise can be more valuable than a YouTube video. Ignite hosts something called Roseville University and it is a structured educational series and that is great, but the young professional also seeks more organic learning through collusion. Ignite satisfies both the formal and informal learning opportunities.
With information comes discovery. One thing that strikes me about the evolving young professional is their growing interest in local politics, civic infrastructure and economy. I can say that as a long-time employer of Millennials, this is an exciting new trend. It could be demographic and regional but I see younger professional involvement in charity, volunteer work and other community contributions than I have in the past. One thing that I really appreciate about Ignite is the focus on business and community development. Discovery is certainly the gateway to the last two points in this article.
In a broad sense, development is more than learning a skill or trade. For young professionals, they want to be around people that support their effort to be better humans. In general, the younger markets are causing a resurgence of the old-school business consultants and have birthed the social media content kings and queens. Look at the stark contrast between Peter Drucker and Gary Vaynerchuk. Yet the young professional sees value in both because they do not discriminate the source of good advice, likely because they grew up on search engines and not institutionalized dogma. Ignite has embraced this by keeping the group inclusive and encouraging all ages to participate in Ignite events to enhance professional development.
About contribution, I think there is a direct correlation between discovering opportunities to serve your community and actual involvement. When decent humans discover ways they can help or contribute to the betterment of their environment, they tend to do so. Ignite and the Roseville Area Chamber of Commerce do a solid job in communicating these community development opportunities. I encourage network groups, businesses and local government to openly advertise fund raisers, non-profit exposure and any other way for young professionals to get involved. Young professional want to be involved and genuinely care about the environment in which they are raising their children. Ignite is a great gateway for the young pros to discover ways to contribute.
Anecdotally, I have noticed a shift around the business and personal development practices in young professionals over the past few years. This observation inspired me to share my thoughts and I hope seasoned professionals who read or watch this blog will support and encourage the younger generations to continue to engage in local networking & community groups. Also, I would like to energize young professionals to make networking in their local business community a part of their professional routine.
In the end, nothing really beats the kinesthetic and in person relationship experience. Social media is simply a supplement to life. “Ignite Young Professionals” is a group that has begun to redefined networking for the next generation.
By Michael S. Parker
Founder at Forge Online Personal Training