I had an eye-opening experience this evening. It wasn’t a new networking software or a panel of influential blogger. No, it was much simpler than that. I had dinner with a work colleague of mine and his wife. He’s the head of the new business (read: sales) of my firm, and has been in the business for a long time. He’s in his mid 60’s, and was close to retirement until the market tanked. He invited me over for dinner with he and his wife. And I must say, I learned more about networking and business practices tonight than I ever have before. If tonight was any indication, Gen-Y shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the Boomers, but rather look to learn from their wealth of experience.
My colleague came and picked me up from my hotel, and we started having a conversation on the way there, discussing the day’s events in the market, news with our firm, real estate, and other random topics. Once we got to his home, he gave me the tour, and we watched some NCAA basketball while his wife finished dinner, with her joining us for conversation as the food cooked.
The whole evening was somewhat surreal. In the 3 hours from pick-up to drop off, I caught a glimpse of how business was done prior to the ease of digital tools we used. People actually KNEW each other for more than an avatar or screen name. He talked about business friends that he had from his days in the Navy and at previous firms over his 40+ year career. About how he taught himself how he bought his first laptop in 1990 and learned how to create a electronic slide show, and how it blew away the CEO and helped land a very large account. And how technology has evolved.
But I got something else from the conversations. In hearing his stories, I could relate many of them to my own. So things, while advancing at a rapid pace, still haven’t really changed much. Friends are still friends, networking is still empty if not cultivated and given the proper energy, family still matters, and hard work still gets the job done. So as we go marching into the workforce, let’s put down the pitchforks for a moment and see what experience is out there to learn.