In this era of ever-growing social media, tech-savvy millennials have been entrusted with more power than ever to build genuine connections, collaborate on projects and help one another for building lasting relationships that transcend transactions, profits and greed.
While reaching out to others, we have a defining choice to make.
Ask yourself whether you want to become parasitical taker or a resourceful helper.
Do you want to think short term, leverage connections and exhaust your resources really quickly? Or do you want to look at the bigger picture and stay in the game for the long haul for carving a niche for yourself while enriching the lives of others.
In the process of hunting down mentors, peers and authors whose work I can add value to, I reached out to Justin Lafazan. I got very interested in one of his ventures called Students4Students Advisory. Through a series of brief, authentic email exchanges and tasks of adding value to one another's lives, we became friends. And the rest is history. Pleased by how Justin's philosophy resonated with mine, I was very happy to have him as a contributor to my upcoming book on Millennial Networking.
According to Justin Lafazan, connecting should be a little more strategic than originally meets the eye. At 19, Lafazan has founded three companies, given 3 TEDx talks, been featured in Forbes, USA Today, and Entrepreneur Magazine, and consulted with Fortune 500 companies as well as countless entrepreneurs. Lafazan's latest projects - Next Gen Summit and Next Gen Ventures - are about bringing together the world's most motivated millennials and connecting them in meaningful ways to achieve mutually beneficial success.
I really like how Justin defines the four crucial components of the human capital every millennial should strive to accumulate.
First and foremost is mentors. I cannot emphasize enough on the importance of having the right group of advisors who have been where you are and done what you are hoping to accomplish. As an aspiring author of a book that talks about how successful millennials have truly understood the essence of relationship-building, I constantly look to reach out to accomplished authors who can share their insights on the theme with me. Justin frequently talks about the significance of surrounding yourself with the most driven achievers your age, as these mentors shed light on the current landscape, struggles and the variety of paths that can be taken in this technological era .
Second group is of like-minded peers. According to Justin, it is like minded peers that you most resonate with. It is them you can freely share your vision with, get inspired from and get empathy when things get tough. They truly "get it". I can not agree with this more. Being a part of a circle of writers motivates me to do my best to add value to my readers on The Huffington Post. Being surrounded by the members of the 2 Billion Under 20 makes all my crazy ideas seem doable. Having peers who have the same drive as you do can make a tremendous difference on your attitude towards life, work and success.
"The third group is of critics" says Justin. As he puts it, these are the hardest folks to have in your network, but often the most insightful. Even when you're at the top, the critics keep you humbled and true to your journey. I personally have a bunch of people in my life that I reach out for the sole purpose of humbling myself and refining my work through constructive criticism.
The last but not the least group is of cheerleaders who have a profound impact on your emotional state and and keeps you from going all crazy. Justin laughs as he describes these people in a network. He says that they are the mother-figures - those who get you a cake just to celebrate a tiny achievement you'd consider routine. They keep you positive, and even when you fail, they celebrate that you learned a thing or two. Coincidentally, for both Justin and I, it's definitely our mom!
A word of advice? Start embracing the value of building relationships with everyone and anyone even though you do not see how they might help you right now. There is always something that you learn distinctly from every connection you nurture.
Each connection makes you more invested in yourself. Makes you grow. Makes you resourceful. Makes you successful.
At 19, Justin Lafazan is an experienced entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and author. He is the Founder of Millennial Marketing Strategy and Next Gen Ventures, as well as the host of Next Gen Summit, a conference for the most successful movers and shakers of the millennial generation. For more information, including how to get in touch, visit JustinLafazan.com.