Networking Tip: Don’t Act Your Age.


When we were young some of us heard the reprimand “You don’t act your age.”  Probably more boys heard it than girls. It would float out in the air in classrooms, malls, restaurants, perfect vacation hotels.  You get the picture. You just need to have an ear that hears things.

I always thought it was a compliment in a strange way. I was always pretty happy that I saw life that way.  Why would any young kid want to be an adult?

Not much has changed. I certainly don’t act my age in the way I dress and think and brand myself and select who I network with even to this day.

When I speaking on networking and personal branding to both young people and those you are my peers, I often say that I am the oldest I have ever been in my life and the youngest I have ever been.  Takes a little bit of time to digest but that irony is true.

I think that a great way to learn is to surround yourself with young people.  You learn by listening from others and by teaching.   We often teach what we personally need to know.

There are many advantages to being connected with youth.

You can harness their creativity. All my YouTube Videos are shot at Sparkhouse whose Founders Torrey Tayenaka and Brandon Cammell are in their mid-20’s.  Did I mention that they studied Cinematography at USC and I shoot my videos on a Red Cam.  My iPad is the teleprompter and the speed is controlled by an App on their phones.   I can’t do that.

I have hired paid interns for 10 years.  I give them the experience they need and they give me the knowledge I need in the places I don’t know.  Most often in technology and a new lens.  They may not have seen what I saw in my life but they have their own eyes discovering future things that they share with me so I can be there as well.

Acting your age works up and down.  I can encounter many of my peers that on a networking level know few people younger than them besides their children. I also know a multitude of young people that never network with people outside of their comfort zone.

There is opportunity for both groups to network together.

If you want to connect with youth talk to youth.  Give them content that helps them in their journey.  In 2011 I wrote a blog called Networking Tips For Young People that Hate to Network. It is my best read blog to this day and I have a couple of hundred of blogs out there.  It was fostered by the fact that many young people are awkward at networking.  Many find it intimidating.   Some may think that networker is what parents do.

Yet most young people have no idea of how to get a job today and you get jobs primarily through networking.  The role of colleges is mostly focused on generating enrollment, educating and graduating.  What is not a big part of their mix is a contemporary solution to landing your first gig.  Colleges can’t even overcome the education/no experience hurdle that their graduates will encounter.  They have an Old Normal model to solve a New Normal need.

I wrote about that problem in a blog called Why Young People Shouldn’t Try to Find A Job.  Young people in the New Normal may have as many jobs as you have apps.  You need to evaluate them in a new way today and you know them by networking with them.

And a recent one.  What is the First Thing Young People Should Do the First Time They Get Fired? It is going to happen in the New Normal where there is no First Aid Kit except your network.  They don’t teach that in school.

You can change that. Many people rarely engage with youth outside of their family members.  Talk to every young person you meet.  Your cashier, your barista, your bagger, your car wash person, your neighbor’s kid, young people that work in restaurants and grocery stores.  They will turn into friends quickly.

It is easier for people to stay in their cocoons of familiarity and people that are clones of yourself.  It’s not the best way to grow your network today or stay young.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:


Watch: Sorry It’s My Network Not Yours.

You may also enjoy these articles:

How I Went From UWO to California.

Networking Tip for 2014.  Build Your Community.


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