In your 20s, you're a step above the naivety of your teen years but a step below the complexity of the rest of your life. It's at this stage in our lives we have a realistic future ideal, but we may not have the final blueprint down. Our 20s are some of our most formative years. If you think about it, it's kind of crazy how much can change in this one decade. You go from studying to graduating, interning to working, renting to buying, dating to marriage, and maybe even starting your own family. It's a steep life learning curve. So how do we manage this change? We leverage our past and apply what we've learned to our present and future. And just like that, you continuously build onto your foundation, block by block. Networking works the same way.
"Networking" gets thrown around as a buzzword all the time. That little voice in your head is always yelling at you to attend every possible professional event under the sun. You start to feel like it's a dreaded full-time job. This word sometimes has a negative connotation because networking may feel forced, uncomfortable and robotic even. That is, until you change your perspective.
Just think about it. Your network already exists and it's at your fingertips, merely a call or message away. Whether it be school clubs, football games or birthday parties, you've already created a wealth of memories. Who were/are your friends in these moments? In school and in our early professional years, we have this luxury of forming truly genuine bonds. It's not your paycheck or connections that interest others; it's you. Sadly, the older and further along in our career we get, the more we start to question the motives of the people seeking our friendship. So take advantage of the sincerity of your relationships now.
Look no further than your group of friends. Sure, we all may be at the bottom of the corporate food chain right now, but we won't be there forever. You and your friends will go on to become managers, presidents, partners, founders, CEOs, CFOs, etc. These are the decision-makers. Decision-makers impact change. Collaboration opportunities, new businesses ideas, and new roles begin to emerge. And friends help friends. You'll be naturally inclined to keep your inner circle in the loop and seek their guidance.
Also remember, young people have a lot going for them. We are never freer at any future point in time than right now. We have minimal responsibilities, low expenses, high energy, and lots and lots of time. Take advantage of it because you'd be lucky to ever feel this free again. So call your friends back, go to happy hours, grab dinner, meet to watch the game, go out, and continue making memories. Trust me, you guys will have some awesome stories to talk about in the conference room in 20 years.