We’ve all heard the saying, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’ that will open up doors and create opportunities. Without a doubt, the power to make powerful, as well as positive connections, goes a long way in helping those succeed in this world. Because education is considered the new commodity in many academic circles, surrounding yourself with the right people who are able to guide you, mentor you, and direct you cannot be forgotten.
In understanding the term ‘education,’ I want to be clear that I’m not simply talking about being in a classroom; I’m speaking of using life’s experiences (the good, bad, and ugly) to help inform you on how to use what’s in you to reach your destiny. Let’s be very clear about this. You can have all of the knowledge in the world, but if you’re not connected with the right people, you’ll find yourself frustrated and aggravated. That’s what we need to be teaching our youth today. We need to teach them the importance of networking and connecting with people outside of their immediate circle of friends. Unless our youth are encouraged to expand their worldview from beyond their neighborhood and community, they’ll be left behind. In a real sense, we must make it our duty to expose our youth to other cultures because exposure is educational.
Getting back to why our kids need to value the art of networking and connecting with the right people is because we’re living in a global world that requires global connections. Can we be real for a moment and declare that competition for work as well as a college education is tense? That’s why our children must be equipped with being in the right place at the right time to meet the right people. Engaging in sports cannot and should not be the only means by which our children are connected with outside influencers. We must introduce them to business owners, politicians, presidents of universities, dignitaries, and diplomats. It’s important to note that introduction to other cultures and nationalities doesn’t dismiss one’s own culture and nationality; it simply helps them to embrace who they are as a person without creating preconceived stereotypes of other races.
To help our youth make networking and connecting a tool in which they can use and implement in their developmental stage, we must do the following:
Expose them to other cultures through museum visits and other educational outings
Establish youth entrepreneur programs within schools as well as the within neighborhoods that will encourage participation from youth all over
Set aside time at least once a month to visit a restaurant that specializes in international foods. Why? Because the more our youth are exposed to various foods, the more inquisitive they will become of the country associated with that particular food
Allow our youth to engage in local business meetings (e.g. chamber of commerce). Think about it for a moment. When our youth are able to see how businesses do business with one another, a spark arises and connections can be made
Teaching our youth why they should network and connect may not always seem like an easy task. Competing with television and social media, it behooves us to use these avenues as instruments to elevate the consciousness of our youth to think outside of the box. The days of go to school, graduate, work for the government, and retire at age 65 are over with. We (as adults) have a duty to help our youth understand that networking and connecting with the right people is vital to success. We must marry education with collaboration so that our youth can prosper.
Dr. Sinclair Grey III is a speaker, author, and success coach. Contact him on www.sinclairgrey.org or Twitter @drsinclairgrey